You are what you eat

If we want healthier lives, we need to move towards healthier food choices

Juggun Kazim February 28, 2016
The writer is an actor, an anchor and a model. She is currently the host of ‘Morning with Juggun’ on PTV Home and can be reached via Twitter @JuggunKazim

They say you are what you eat. But the question is, do you really want to be what you eat?

Let’s look at what’s available in the grocery stores these days. The chicken you buy is injected with all kinds of steroids; the fruits and vegetables have been sprayed with pesticides; sugar and flour are being whitened with bleach and your steak comes from a cow, pumped full of antibiotics.

Obesity is a huge issue, not just in the United States, but in many developing countries as well. Let’s go step by step. A chicken is made four to five times its natural size in one-tenth the time it takes to be fully grown by injecting it with hormones and steroids. Now, you eat that chicken. Upon consumption, those same hormones float in your body. You are on a serious high-protein, low carb diet. What do you eat a lot of? Bingo! Chicken! So that same high protein diet that is supposed to help you lose weight, not only makes you gain weight but you develop a weird hormonal imbalance as well.

If you are a vegetarian, you have another set of issues to deal with. The fruits and vegetables you eat have quite often been treated with pesticides and fertilisers, not to mention exposed to contaminated water. You may think you are living a healthy, yogi-like lifestyle but the truth is that you are missing many of the vitamins and minerals that should be present in your meals. Even the lentils and legumes we buy are polished and cleaned with chemicals.

Lets not forget fizzy or soft drinks. These colas comprise colour additives, preservatives, stabilisers, plus a huge amount of white sugar. Leave a rusty nail in a glass of cola for three days — it will be shiny and good as new. If that’s what it does to the nail, imagine what its consumption can do to your insides. And, by the way, sugar free colas aren’t particularly good for you either. This is because the aspartame in the diet colas is actually a weight loss inhibitor. It clashes with your metabolism and slows it down. So even if you don’t gain weight, you won’t really lose it either.

Most of us can’t live without sugar. But white sugar is not just terrible for your body. In some cases, it is bleached with bone char made from animal bones. Does that sound even remotely healthy to you? Not to me. As for the spices we use, even those are often adulterated.

Take turmeric, for example. Homegrown dried and ground turmeric doesn’t stain your hands, has more flavour and possesses healing properties. The one out of the box appears to be like coloured talcum powder.

If all this wasn’t enough, the water we drink out of the tap is filthier than gutter water. As a result, many people filter tap water first and then boil it. Mineral water has become questionable at best. It is supposedly safe to drink but there are now so many fake ‘mineral’ water brands available in the market so there is no way of knowing what you’re drinking.

I am the parent of a nine-year-old child and frankly, I’m petrified. I took him to a nutritionist and she shared another rather disturbing fact. According to her, the so-called brown bread that I had been making him eat for the past two years was just that — brown, only in colour. Most of the brown breads available in the market are not whole wheat or multigrain. As a mother or concerned homemaker, what does one do? How do you switch over to organic completely and what’s the guarantee that what I’m buying is purely organic?

The developed world is moving towards an organic lifestyle but we are still stuck in this processed and tampered food rut. We can’t seem to let go of the three white poisons: sugar, salt and flour. Sadly, Pakistan actually produces a lot of the organic products that are found in grocery stores abroad but Pakistanis want the boxed, processed goods instead. Then we wonder why cancer and organ failure has become so common. If we want healthier lives, we need to move towards healthier food choices. According to one report, your fitness level is determined 85 per cent by the food you eat and only 15 per cent by your exercise levels.

So, it’s high time we take control of what we eat. If nothing else, think of growing vegetables and fruits on your roof or in your garden. Buy organic eggs and chicken from a reliable source, switch to brown sugar (Shakkar or Gur) and honey (unprocessed), use extra virgin oils, get your spices ground from the pansari, boil water for 10 minutes before drinking and pray really hard that you stay healthy. 

Published in The Express Tribune, February 29th,  2016.

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Rex Minor | 5 years ago | Reply They say that you are what you eat. But the question is, do you really want to be what you eat? Yes madam, but they also say tell me what you eat and I shall tell you what you are. It is the DNA and the metabolism which determines the life span of an individual. I guess most if not all of us know what is a healthy or unhealthy food today: the most complex issue is the balance which one needs to have in choosing the portion of the ingredients, since what prevents the growth of cancer cells can also cause cancer if taken in larger quantities? The traditional golden principlel is still valid today, if one does not have the time and patience to select a healthy diet for ones self then eat a grilled piece of beef steak of the animal growing on a farm will suffice since it has all what a human needs to stay healthy. Rex Minor
Solomon2 | 5 years ago | Reply Well now Ms. Kazim, after writing this column will you put morsel to pen and write a "healthy eating" cookbook?
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