Remember the good old days when eating a huge Birthday cake over two days, all by yourself, was not a cardinal sin? Why one cake? Fifty years ago, during the last trimester of my first pregnancy, I could polish off two over two to three days.
Those fantastic days of childhood, when breakfast with bapaiji meant a huge bowl of malai to be mopped up with steaming-hot chapattis and washed down with fudina tea before leaving for school. In those days, ‘eating’ was a pleasure, a way of life, NOT a transgression. “I had a huge lunch”, did not amount to a church confession. No one had heard of words like cholesterol and triglycerides. Fat was not fatal and not only was every item cooked in pure ghee, but it was also poured over the rice ‘for extra strength’. Our grandparents never fell sick so often, but died a natural death around 90 to 100 years, attributing this to, “Asalnoo pure ghee.”
Those days, sin was not eating but marrying a non-Parsi, committing adultery or siphoning off funds from an orphanage. The four-letter word called SCAM was unheard of, though we had another very explicit four-letter word; which was never to be used by good girls, at least not at home! In today’s highly progressive, sophisticated and enlightened times, things like adultery or marrying a non-Parsi are treated like minor misdemeanors, which can be easily overlooked. Real SIN comes wrapped in a silver-foil and is called assorted chocolates and has more than a thousand calories per kilo.
Of course, we all love close encounters of the high-calorie kind. The more ‘sinful’ the food, the better it tastes , but the Diet Police Force lurks here, there and everywhere, in the guise of a demanding husband, caring friends or relatives. The Force is always on duty, watching if you eat cocktail nuts by handful or one by one as you are expected. Just as you get a good grip on the deep-fried chicken leg, some neo-vegetarian lady (the one who used to polish off chicken dhansak at your parties) points out that you’re biting into a ‘traumatised dead body’. Your theosophy friend says you’re sharing the sin of slaughter and tries to make you feel guilty. And just as you take a second helping of the rich dessert, a friend says, “Are you sure you want to do this?” You reply, “Like hell, I’m sure. Couldn’t be more sure!”
It’s as if what you eat is no longer a private matter between you and your stomach. It is everybody’s business. According to my psychiatrist friend, it is the key to your sub-conscious – a matter for psychoanalysis.
Loving your food, says the psychologist, has nothing to do with your hunger. You assure him that you are a nutritionally alert, God-fearing weight-watcher at most times, that this party-eating has been carefully worked into your weekly calorie allowance and that you aren’t substituting food for having missed out on mother’s love.
Just look at the ‘poisons’ we pile on our plate, which were earlier called ‘food’. Today, health experts are striking off almost every item of food from the menu. Salt and sugar are bad.Fat is out. Meat and eggs? You wanna die of cholesterol? Vegetables? They’re sprayed with insecticides. Chicken? Fed with artificial hormones. White bread amounts to poison. So what’s remaining to eat? You almost feel like committing suicide by eating yourself to death. At least, that way, you’ll die happily!
As children, we ate ANY and EVERY item of food we liked. If you are a child today, are you allowed to eat that way? Forget it! Don’t have sugar kiddo, bad for your teeth- good for the dentist! Don’t develop too much fat cells in childhood. And, God forbid, if you are an overweight teenager, your fate is worse than death. We all know that it’s very wrong to be judged by our skin colour, race or sex. So why do people judge us on basis of our body shape? If you are fat, why do people jump to the conclusion that you are lazy, greedy, out-of-control, have no will power, lacking in self-esteem and too stupid to count calories? And if you successfully get into shape, good for you. You will be seen as smart, nutritionally literate, a terrific person in control. And, if you have also lost weight and kept it off, congratulations! Now you can apply for sainthood.
Today’s low calorie, low cholesterol food doesn’t taste like food at all. Can you imagine eating low calorie chocolates and mithais? Wouldn’t you prefer death by the good old fashioned pedas and chocolates? However, a person who can invent zero-calorie mithais and chocolates is sure to become a billionaire in no time. Any takers?
The Law of Weight and Well-being (used by some), states that, your happiness is inversely related to your body weight. It seems, the more you weigh, the unhappier you are. Not true!! We can be a bit heavy and a bit happier at the same time, which reminds me of a fat jolly gentleman I met at a recent party who asked me, “Are you married or happy?” My prompt reply, “Both!” Similarly, you can be BOTH, fat and happy. Your happiness does not depend upon the number on the scale! It’s your mental attitude that counts. However, we should always avoid extremes- go easy on potato chips because being fat is bad for your health and your spouse may lose interest in you. These days, to make your spouse happy, all it takes are three little words. No! Not: “I love you”- that is hopelessly outdated. The current soul-soother is, “You’ve lost weight!!”