The first time I came to India was in 2011. It was an assault on my senses. It was heart breaking and beautiful. It was as challenging as it was inspiring, but the one thing that forced a half bobble of confusion from my neophyte head, was the amount of people I noticed very. . .ahem. . .overweight.
Coming from America, I’m not shocked by unhealthy living, but I never thought of India as a place of similar habits. Then, I began to watch what people were eating and how much. Bread and rice for breakfast, bread and rice for lunch, bread and rice for dinner. Fried bread wrapped around sugar soaked bread. Biscuits with tea all day long. Sugar. Sugar. And more sugar.
Still now, almost 5 years later, I am perplexed by this phenomenon. I mean, don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of very, very, very thin people here. But I’m constantly surprised by the rotund waistlines everywhere I go. How could this be?
After doing some research on India’s health statistics, I found out that “India is the diabetes capital of the world,” according to the Indian Heart Association, with 62 million diabetics. That number is supposed to double by 2030. Insane, right?! I couldn’t fathom India would leave America in the dust of the race to WALL-E living. . .or worse, death.
As part of homeschooling our teenage daughter, we have declared the next month on learning about nutrition, and we have started with a war on refined sugar and the ever so culturally loved bread. This is not because we don’t like to eat ice cream or have toast with our eggs or think gluten is the enemy. This exercise of taking certain ingredients out of our diet for 4 weeks is so that we become aware of what we are eating, when we are eating, and how much.
To start the month off, we watched a really great documentary called “That Sugar Film.” Have you seen it? If you are interested in learning more about what sugar does to the body, definitely check out this flick. It is in the same breath as “Super Size Me” and is quite fascinating.
We all know that sugar isn’t “good” for us, but do most of us know what that means? “That Sugar Film” offers a great visual of how sugar breaks down in the body. We learned that sugar turns into fat in the liver. Things like bread, pasta, cakes, cookies, ice cream, and all things loaded with sugar essentially break down immediately into FAT! Yuck!
But, what was truly the most interesting part of the documentary, was that Damon Gameau (the main character), replaced his already healthy diet with items labeled as “healthy products” and just increased the amount of sugar he was eating, keeping the caloric intake exactly the same. Did you get that? That means he didn’t change the amount of calories he was eating, he just changed the amount of sugar. In two months, he gained 10cm (4 inches) on his waistline, among many other complicated health issues that could ultimately lead to things like diabetes. Whew!
We are just about to complete ONE week without bread and wheat products and no desserts. I’ve never been so much into either categories, so I’m feeling the same, but Oshanna and Amit are quickly becoming aware of how often they supplement their hunger and their emotional state with ingredients that are not optimal for daily functioning. It is a great learning experience for all of us.
I encourage everyone to read labels, look at what you are eating, and take care of yourselves. If you have blood sugar problems, or mood swings, or can’t get rid of that unwanted belly fat, look at how much sugar you are consuming and from what. I bet you will be surprised.
If you feel inspired to join in on the fun, I would love to hear about your month of awareness and how it makes you feel.
Anyway, may you all be goangood! xo