A Balancing Trick

  Vibha Varshney |     June 7, 2021

It was 1 pm and the whole family had gathered around the dining table to check what was for lunch. Steaming bowls of daal (lentils), rice and baigan ka bharta (mashed eggplants) along with fresh rotis (homemade bread) were arranged on the table.  

But this was not what Babbi wanted to eat. "I would rather have a burger," she wailed. Mother would not hear any of it. The lockdown had given her a chance to feed healthy, wholesome food to the family and ample time to explain why she wanted them to eat the food she cooked. 

It was now normal to have a brief discussion on food before each meal. The family sat down and Mother began: “It is the 7th of June today – this day is celebrated as the World Food Safety Day.”

“While the Food Safety Day had been originally designated with the aim of creating awareness about food-borne diseases caused by microbes, today, even junk food, which can lead to many diseases later in life, can be included. This year, the Day’s theme is ‘Safe food today, for a healthy tomorrow’,” said Mother. 

Looking at Babbi and her sister, she went on to add: “Eating safe food is especially important for you children, as you have to ensure that you grow into healthy adults. What you see on the table is a balanced diet—it has carbohydrates, proteins, fibers, and nutrients that are important for the body to grow and develop. These nutrients help you grow tall, have strong bones, good vision and a healthy skin, besides other benefits. Do you know that salads have fibers which will help you poop better tomorrow?”

“The burger, on the other hand, is not balanced food. It is ultra-processed and has high amounts of fats, sugar, and salt. It will give you a lot of calories but very few nutrients. Such food is linked to diseases like diabetes and hypertension later in life,” said Mother. 

Meanwhile, Babbi's Father had already served the food. It was a norm in their house that the first serving was small and just enough to fill the tummy. Second servings were according to your hunger levels. It was just yesterday, that Mother had given a long lecture on food wastage, when Babbi tried to throw away a half-eaten apple. 

The family began eating, but Babbi was still not convinced. She asked if this food was enough for her because she played a lot and needed energy. "Should I not have more fats and sugar and chicken every day?" she asked.

“The idea is to have a variety of food each day, because each food has its own nutrients and goodness,”Mother explained patiently. By then, Babbi was already enjoying the food in front of her and was barely listening to Mother. She knew what was for dessert and wanted to finish the food on her plate quickly and get to it. She had seen her father cut sweet mangoes and keep them in the freezer. Babbi loved mangoes!


Small Bites

Did you know that the year 2021 is the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables? An important thing to remember in this context – and in the context of food safety -- is to always wash raw fruits and vegetables with clean water before you eat them. 

About the Author

Associate Editor, Down To Earth

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