The binary way of looking at food: Yeh healthy hai aur yeh nahi

We are a nation of dieters and pursue diet advice given by experts, friends and family, even strangers. We follow the rise and fall of every diet trend and know everything about food and health. But more often than not, we have a fixated approach towards food. Looking at food we are constantly asking ourselves – Is this healthy or not?

Don’t you agree? We all have that inner voice that screams ‘Do not look at it!’ every time we drool over bacon and eggs or an aloo paratha with butter. Why? ‘Well, that is because they are very high in fats’!  You reply.

But, try and look at it this way: Don’t you think we look at food as per its nutrients level and not as a whole – as a balanced meal? For example –

  • Egg whites give us good protein and yolks give fats (read: heart diseases)
  • White bread vegetable sandwich with cheese is unhealthy, but 3 whole wheat toasts with low-fat butter is a great choice for breakfast and so on…

Witnessing the evolvement of nutrition science and unshackling the fads for 8 years, I feel it is of utmost importance to talk about how we need to look at food as a whole.

First things first, stop over-analyzing!

We are all fixated with our understanding of food in two important segments:

  • Healthy: Low carb, high protein, low fat, honey, low salt etc.
  • Unhealthy: High carb, high fat, low protein, sugar, low sodium salt etc.

This is how our brain works. But, let me tell you, this binary way of looking at food is flawed and here is why:

  • We need to stop weighing with respect to the ‘bad’ nutrient:

A ‘bad’ nutrient does not cause so much harm at times if eaten in a small amount. We have all grown up on cakes, pastries, biscuits and sweets. Cutting down these foods completely from our diets just because they contain the “bad nutrient”- processed flour and sugar, only makes us crave for these things more. Plus, at times, we try to balance our cravings by eating double the portion of the “right nutrients”. Let us analyze the nutrients and the quantities of the below mentioned foods and decide which is better:

  • A small piece of ‘gulabjamun’ or ‘a dollop of srikhand’ for a mid-snack say at about 3 pm.
  • 2 mangoes after a meal or a bran muffin with low fat ice-cream.

While looking at it in the binary way, obviously the 2nd option is better but only if had in half the quantity. The 1st option wouldn’t cause you any harm rather it would satisfy your sugar cravings in the most amazing way and keep you satiated till your next meal. Consuming too few calories can make you ravenously hungry and will reduce your metabolism and muscle mass also.

  • Focus more on food pairings:

A balanced diet is a mix of proteins, carbs, fats and vitamins and minerals. Too much or too less of any food group is an unhealthy diet. You can’t just have salads for lunch or dinner thinking that it is healthy and is the key to losing weight. Similarly, bacon when paired with eggs and beans can constitute for the perfect breakfast.

A proper food pairing is essential in maintaining good health. Pair your food with various food groups creating interesting combinations to give you all the essential nutrients.

  • What you eat is as important as how much you eat:

You cannot convince yourself to eat healthy if you are eating double the quantity of what you think as healthy. What would you choose in the situation below –

  • 3 slices of whole wheat bread
  • 2 slices of white bread made as a toasted sandwich with tomatoes, lettuce, mozzarella cheese and salt and pepper

If we analyze the nutrition content we will find that the 2nd option is more wholesome and gives your body all you need in terms of carb, protein, fat, fiber etc.

A  so-called “healthy” food can have an unhealthy effect if had in enormous quantities, paired wrongly or prepared wrongly (added sugars, added salt and preservatives etc.)

  • Look at where it is coming from:

All the canned and packed healthy food items need not necessarily be healthy. A quick peak at the ingredients listed on every pack would show you the alarming truth of the amount of salt, sodium, MSG, sugars and other preservatives added to them. A canned fresh fruit juice with the power of extra fruit HAS a lot of sugar and preservatives else it won’t survive a shelf life for so long. Don’t get duped by whatever is marketed as healthy. One needs to know where it has come from. An avocado, which is not locally grown in all the parts of India is definitely not as healthy as the locally grown coconut. It must have stayed in the cold storage for months before reaching you. There is nothing nutritionally exotic about imported fruits and vegetables.  Local produce has much more nutrients than the imported ones.

Still eyeing food with a binary outlook? Ditch the blinkers of ‘yeh healthy hai aur yeh unhealthy’ to gain a different perspective of looking at food.

Still not sure how to find out how healthy the food you love is? Start with bon happetee. With bon happetee you get ‘health bhi and taste bhi’.

How do we do it? Well, apart from giving you personalised meal recommendations, we also score your meal!

What do we mean by scoring? Well, scoring is cutting edge revolutionary process of assessing whether your meals help reach your daily targets. We combine latest developments in nutrition science and combine that with algorithms and mathematics to arrive at a score, on scale of 1-10 to tell you how good your meal is.

Mostly a meal score of 8 or more is considered good.

The score considers things like overall portion of the meal, various nutrients and whether the meal is balanced with various kinds of food groups the body needs.

Ya, ya…feel like it’s all Latin and Greek. Let me simplify it.

  • 2 parathas, salad and bhurji is an awesome combination and gets you a good score. But what if you feel like eating a rasgulla, and don’t just because it is a sweet. Come to bon happetee and it will tell you that 1 paratha, bhurji, salad and a piece of rasgulla have more or less the same level of nutrition. You got your health, and taste too! That’s where pairing comes in useful!

  • In the evening if you feel like having a spice bhujiya snack. Don’t suppress your craving. Go ahead and have it in a small portion. But remember to not repeat it more than once a week because the app will catch you!

bon happetee is all about food and food lovers. We encourage you to eat what you love with our special scoring system. Quit the binary way of looking at food, and adopt the bon happetee way! We promise you will never be disappointed, upset, frustrated and irritated with the food on your plate…EVER!

Akansha is the Founder and Consultant at Beyond the Weighing Scale. With a wide range of expertise and skills, she is adept to speak about nutrition, health, lifestyle management and physical activity. She is a popular food columnist, a passionate foodie, a health enthusiast, an avid traveller and a happy yogi.

 

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