Date: Sept 23, 2010
Setting: Seventeen parents and twelve teachers closeted in a room
Occasion: My 15-old son’s Parent Teacher meeting
We heard Dr. Satish Inamdar explain.
Dr Inamdar is director of The Valley School in Bangalore. Dr Inamdar practiced medicine for many years before turning into an educationist. He’s 74, and fit as fiddle.
“Because the Indian gene and processed food don’t seem to go together,” he continued. “Our children have become slaves of processed food. Largely because the parents themselves enjoy such food and lifestyle.”
I heard another friend explain this to me, quoting her uncle who too specializes in cardio-vascular disease. “Indians need to exercise at least four times more than Americans and Europeans to stay as healthy as them, as our gene cannot handle ‘their kind’ of food habits.”
Yet, wily-nily, we are letting our children adopting more and more of the ‘westerners’ food habits, right here in India.
But we ourselves do little to control the situation.
If we did, Pizza Huts wouldn’t have several customers waiting to be ‘accommodated’ during lunch and dinner hours; and McDonald and KFCs wouldn’t have serpentine queues behind their cash counters. After all, children don’t earn enough (even by way of pocket money) to visit these places on their own?
(It’s embarrassing to confess but despite being aware of these realities, I took my son to Pizza Hut last week.).
Well, the idea is not to blame anyone. But to do something, as Dr Inamdar warns, so that our children don’t end up being unhealthy. I guess this is as important as the quality education we strive to give our children.
Here are a few ideas I could think of. It’s a start. Please help expand the list.
- Let’s make Pizzas at home. Though a pizza will always remain ‘junk’, irrespective of where it is made, we can be make it healthier by using more green vegetables and lesser cheese. Moreover, it takes little time, and cost just a fraction of what specialist pizza eateries charge (it costs about Rs.20 to cook to healthy green vegetable pizza at home).
- Like pizzas, even burgers can be made at home, especially the ones with vegetables. There is fairly good choice of burger buns available.
- Let’s seek restaurants that serve healthier food. Facebook can be a great tool for this. Discussion, recommendations can help us not only discover new restaurants, but also save us from nasty surprises that experimenting with unknown restaurants throw.
- We need to educate our children in earnest, so they can maintain some kind of balance. I know children have neither the ear nor the appetite to digest such ‘rubbish’! Remember, if we can sell million dollar software and solutions to smart buyers, I’m certain we can do a better job of selling healthier food to our children. It’s a challenge worth taking head-on.
- Most important, we have to ourselves stop glorifying junk food. (By the way, Dr Shetty categorizes masala dosas and samosas as junk food too). If possible, we have to stop eating such food ourselves. I know this is the toughest of all. But then, charity has to begin at home.
I know Healthy Mind, Health Body sounds like the most clichéd title or phrase I’ve ever heard or made! But in connection to our own children, it’s perhaps the most significant. Else, we’ll end giving them spending a fortune to provide them with great education and ensure their success, yet leave them vulnerable on health front.
Please do share your suggestions.