Eat shoots and leaves

If I have to give you one single dietary advice then it has to be this: Stop eating whatever you eat.

I got this insight after extensively going through the various dietary plans that are popular these days. Some seriously say don’t go anywhere near ‘carbs’ (carbohydrates of our days have undergone weight-reduction and become ‘carbs’ now). They are such a villain that some of you may already want to stop reading this as it contains straight references to carbs. A few others insist that fats are still the Syria of the food world, the quintessential problematic part that can’t be handled easily. And don’t even get started on protein-rich stuff. Because they can not only be harmful to you but they are also dangerous to the entire world as they are mostly elitist food and environmentally unsustainable.

So, basically, what I figured out is, away from certain items from the plywood family, there is not even one edible thing in the world that is not harmful from some standpoint or the other. So you are better off giving up whatever you generally eat. This does not mean you should try out stuff that you generally avoid eating. That will be even more dangerous. This is where the world stands now.

But dieting was not such a confusing exercise when we were growing up. All dietary books had just one chapter that began and ended with the single line: Don’t overeat. And people who followed it were generally happy and lead a contended life. And then one day they died. That was all to it.

But when the 90s arrived, dieting suddenly became some convoluted and complex science whose truths kept changing almost every hour. First they said cholesterol was extremely bad. Then one fine day a group of scientists came up with the startling finding that mostly belonged to masala movies: Cholesterol, like the Kamal Haasan character in the film Aalavanthaan, was basically twins. There was a good cholesterol and a bad cholesterol (rim shot). If you ate too much of fat you acquired bad cholesterol. But it is the same fat that gave you the good cholesterol too. So you had to ingest the same fatty food in a manner that you retained the good cholesterol while letting out bad cholesterol. It was like after going through Debonair you were asked to remember only its articles.

A bit later, out of the blue, in a dramatic twist, fats, which were all along built up as a baddie, was classified a softie, and carbohydrates that we all had been very friendly with till then was now the nominal Nambiar: The unrepentant malcontent. Today if you tell some diet-conscious people that the air that they breathe contains carbs they will immediately rush to their dietitians to prepare a chart for alternate lifestyle that involves no breathing.

But which foods contain carbohydrates? Well, here is a handy chart to know all about it:

Foods with bad carbs: Anything that you have as part of your regular food.

Foods with good carbs: Industrial cardboard.

Seriously, rice, wheat, soft drinks, sugar, potatoes and every other stuff that make your food agreeable are no longer dietically kosher.

Also sometime back, scientists, putting on their lab coats, emerged out and told people to completely give up gluten stuff. And the people too rushed to the markets to pick up gluten-less products (“can I have a can of gluten-free drinking water, please?”), and it is when the shopkeeper asked them what the heck is this gluten did the people realise that in their hurry to dash to the market they had failed to find out what gluten is.

To be fair, nobody till date knows what is gluten. Actually, there may be no such thing as gluten. Popular guess is that scientists, like they always seem to do, just made it up after an usual weekday afternoon of several beers.

Anyway, post the 2010s, the dieting industry has become multi-billion dollars worth and also, in the process, become totally insane. I particularly refer to this new fad Paleo diet. The Paleo diet is about only consuming the types of foods eaten by early humans (Paleo age people who had not developed brains) before mass agriculture. Paleo is free of grains, legumes, dairy, sugar and, most certainly, common sense.

Why would you want to eat stuff that people who had not even fully evolved ate? You think they were healthy because of what they ate? Nah, the truth is they were healthy because there was no such thing as a fancy diet then and, more importantly, there was no medical industry that was preying on the inherent fears of people.

And then there is also something called Ketogenic diet that seems to be a cult group that is into fat pornography. They have no carbs or proteins but they just feast on ‘dietary fat’, whatever that is. This diet, we are told, helps in weight loss and better energy. You can wolf down a huge tandoori chicken plate as long as you know for sure that the chicken had not consumed any bread or pasta (bad carbs, you moron) before it was killed.

If this is the case, what is the secret of smart eating? Eating smart just involves listening to your body closely. And when you listen to your body, you innately know what it wants. And, right now, it wants a masala kulcha and some aloo mutter.