Sambhashanam

Healthy food vs Junk food

by Shobs(Sourced from: Infinithoughts)

Do you wonder why so many diseases and newer problems? The answer is fast moving lifestyles have made people store boiled vegetables for a week in the freezer bags, cook food during weekends and eat packaged foods right through the week. We have reached a point where we need to be educated on why we need to eat home-made food.

Mom, there is nothing to eat! How often have we heard this yelling at home? I walk into the kitchen only to discover one of the little ones with his entire upper body inside the refrigerator. He finds the top shelf with three litres of orange juice, the doors filled with jellies, bread, buns and the bottom shelf showcases leftovers from the previous two nights' meals and several packages of cheese and tinned drinks. He munches one of the leftovers and packaged foods. Times have changed and so often we hear that we need to change with changing times. Change we do, but by leaving behind some of the basic fundamentals of eating habits. Do you wonder why so many diseases and newer problems? The answer is fast moving lifestyles have made people store boiled vegetables for a week in the freezer bags, cook food during weekends and eat packaged foods right through the week. We have reached a point where we need to be educated on why we need to eat home-made food.

Have you ever looked at what a burger at a casual dining restaurant is made from? There can be tons of ingredients, some with names you haven’t heard of or cannot pronounce. Eating home food has numerous health benefits, but more importantly it gives you the option of what ingredients you decide to use or omit in your meals. When you cook at home, you can keep your foods natural and whole. If you have special dietary needs such as limitations on salt intake you can make dishes that suit your health needs. You don’t have to fret if the dining establishments have a low fat dish or if there is any extra sugar used in a meal. One of the reasons most people have gained weight is due to the portions that many dining restaurants serve you. They are much larger than necessary. People who eat home cooked meals are known to be more energetic and healthier.

I am not against eating out, but definitely not for eating out all the time. There are people who live on fast foods, packaged foods and semi-cooked foods, which are bought from the market. This can be very harmful in the long run. There is always this question about the makers of pre-cooked food, bought from the market, on their food handling standards, their employees’ personal hygiene, nutritional value that they add, etc.

When we cook at home we make sure that the raw grains are thoroughly washed and drained which to a large extent removes the artificial colour and the pesticides in them. When we eat food in restaurants we don't know whether these precautions have been taken. This could rise to smouldering intestinal infections and gastric ulcers in the long run.

Traditionally, cooking was a whole day affair with no grinders, microwaves and mixers. We can never go back to traditional cooking methods, but we need to know that traditionally earthen utensils were used and in villages they are still being used. Earthen utensils cook rotis, dais, vegetables, and sambhar in low heat. Cooking in low heat has many health benefits whereby the delicate vitamins like the B-complex don’t get destroyed and are preserved. Traditional drinks like buttermilk, coconut water and lemon juice provide many health benefits and nutrients. You don’t these benefits when you consume drinks packed in bottles or Tetra Packs. The gradual change in your digestive system can be very harmful.

If you are looking for an easy way to delight in a healthy lifestyle for you and your loved ones, one of the most effective ways is to live on home cooked meals. Surviving on outside food is not only quite expensive compared to eating home food, but also not ideal for a health conscious society. It can take and it has already taken a toll on our health. Diseases can sprout from unknown directions. At home we let the flour rise through natural mechanisms which add to the nutrient value and vitamin content of the flour (while making idlis, pakodi and other food items which require the flour to rise). In ready to eat foods and junk foods, they use rising salts like baking soda which are oxidants and have the potential for causing cancer in the long run.

There are many benefits of home cooked food that we all need to know and reinforce. Fresh food is richer in nutrients, in antioxidants, vitamins and micronutrients when compared to preserved and packaged food sold commercially. Fresh green chutneys ensure much nutrition through antioxidants, many other micronutrients and vitamins. Home-ground chutneys add flavour, taste and nutrition to food. Chutneys can be a source of infection when the raw ingredients are not adequately cleaned or washed. Many of the chutneys bought from shops have preservatives, which are very harmful as they contain extra salt and are also oxidants, which are carcinogenic. Also fresh, home- ground ginger paste is healthy whereas using the ready-made paste is harmful as it has preservatives and salt; in the process of preserving many of the vitamins get destroyed. You wonder why cholesterol levels or obesity is on the rise? One of the factors is that we have no control over what kind of oil is being used in outside cooking. Probably the oil might have become rancid. On the other hand the oil we use at home is what we think is healthy and we can keep changing different oils.

Daily cooking in the house allows us to have variety. Seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables get consumed. These prevent diseases, put us in tune with nature and improve longevity and immunity. There could be 100 more reasons on why home-made food is better than stored food or packaged food. Let’s occasionally eat out, but not survive on it. Healthy eating!!