Junk Food

5:41 PM

In the years I've spent in India the most common stereotype I had to debuke is the one about my diet. As a foreigner most people around assume that I live on junk food only because I can't cook. This tend to irk me and downright anger me when the assumption is made by a Doctor as it happened in the past. I have PCOS, am overweight despite all my best attempt to loose weight and regulate carbs and fat intake...period.

Now this weekend I went to see an endocrinologist to check how I can tackle the PCOS issue in the best way, and she sent me for a whole set of tests which I did on Sunday. One of these was a glucose challenge test. Normally you do that type of test when preggo and I had two of these last year indeed.
While waiting there to get to the end of my whole test, I was in company of a pregnant lady who was going through the same test, she was there with her own mother. At one point the mother asked me why I was doing this test since I clearly had a baby already and didn't look preggo. I told her it was due to an hormonal imbalance and that my endo wanted to get all the numbers in hand to decide how to tackle my lack of weight loss. At one point she made an affirmation, about how I should stop eating junk food and giving a few examples: Pizza, pasta, meat...
I politely told her that no I was not eating these things but Indian home cooked food, and she was surprised.

What surprise me in truth is the definition of junk food around here. In Europe junk food is anything of low nutritional value that comes loaded in sugar, grease and starch. Here it seems that medias, people and even doctors think it's potato chips, burger, meat, pizza pasta, continental food.
No one seem to put Indian snacks such as aloo paratha, pakoda, aloo tiki, aloo bujia, samosa and the like in the junk food category, nope mind you they are just "oily food".
The other thing that is quite odd is how some doctors will tell their patients "Eat only home cooked food", so what if home cooked food is fried, and seasoned with a generous serving of ghee? it's still Indian and therefore healthier than a pasta dish. Call me whatever you like, but for my part I fail to see why ghee rice is healthier than a pizza.

Now time to put things in the right place, a classic Mediterranean thin crust baked pizza which has very little cheese, loads of fresh tomato sauce and veggies as a topping is NOT junk food, a pizza hut pizza is. In the same way that a home made tandoori chicken is healthier than a butter chicken swimming in thick gravy. Both aloo bujia and lays potato chips are junk food. And pasta has about the same nutritional value as white rice, so if you want to call pasta junk food then add the rice in that category too please. Lean meat isn't evil and unhealthy, if you are vegetarian then fine do without, but those who eat a little of it especially if it is grilled poultry and fish aren't in the wrong.
French fries is junk food, but so is a samosa, or an aloo tiki, the latest being a fried potato cutlet topped with a sweet chutney and some sour cream or curd and sprinkled with coriander leaves and in some case fried vermicelli.
Even if you make these at home and therefore fall into the "home cooked food" category, they aren't good.
A reasonable serving of dal, a vegetable low in oil and 2-3 chapati makes for a healthy Indian meal. A whole wheat pasta with a home made low fat tomato sauce too.

Declaring a cuisine from an entire country of region unhealthy simply because it's foreign and because only the worst of it seems to be known around here is downright insulting to the people coming from that place, and telling them the only way the can be healthy is to eat Indian is ludicrous.

Personally I love Indian food, and know how to cook it too, but I can say the exact same thing about continental, Italian, and even Thai and Chinese as I know how to cook a few dishes from their repertoire too. Every single region on this planet has a fare share of junk food item, and a whole lot of healthy dishes as well. Instead of saying all foreign food is bad, and all Indian food is better, people should do better to look what they have in their book. The culprits are fried food, saturated fats, bad low fiber carbs, and how the protein, carbs and fat ratio is looking on your plate.


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