Many weekends ago, my eight-year-old niece asked me if I could get her the Kid’s Meal from an outlet at the food court. When the server at the counter handed over the box to us, she told me she didn’t want the burger. She was there for only a specific toy. She mentioned a YouTube video — courtesy of which, she knew that junk was bad for her. “Also, mom makes yummier burgers at home!” she added. In the past too, I’d watched how she and her friends had been quick to say no to chocolates i.e. if they’d had their share for the day.
What makes these anecdotes worth sharing is that how none of us (parents, friends, aunts, etc.) feel the need to raise a brow at any of these situations — expressing concern, pride or surprise. Not any longer. What is there to react to? You don’t discuss the normal, the routine. Just like knowing as an adult that excess caffeine is bad for me, the kids know excess candy is bad for them. Right? We are all mindful eaters. Period. Correction, we have all gradually become mindful eaters.
If I were to rewind to five years ago, I’d be able to share with you a comparative analysis worksheet on the many types and flavours of instant noodles available in the market. Potato crisps were our (husband and I) go-to midnight snack. Today, we prefer watermelon cubes to it, any day. Also, whole-wheat spaghetti is much loved by us.
When did the change occur? When did the philosophy of eating well make its way into my life?
Maybe when the supermarket aisles lined up boxes of Greek yoghurt and I learned it was a great substitute for cream cheese and Mayo. Or maybe when my reading list got overloaded with ‘stick to healthy eating habits’ articles and Instagram began to suggest must-try smoothie options to me. Or maybe when I noticed that my mum, a schoolteacher, was giving away ‘Healthy Lunch Box’ certificates to the students.
The change surely didn’t happen overnight. Neither was it a result of a burning medical issue or a taskmaster forcing us to follow suit. However, it did start with us not stocking sodas and processed juices at home. Lemonades gelled okay with the taste buds of those who visited as well. Soon, we were carrying fresh fruit (to work) in a box. Also, I didn’t realise I was consuming less coffee and more lemon tea until the tea bags at my desk began to vanish. Unconsciously, but I too was saying no to chocolates when I’d had my share for the day. Incidentally, this Diwali when my sister offered to bake a rose-carrot-no flour cake in place of the rich Indian mithai — the guests, including me, were thrilled and couldn’t have enough.
What’s my equation with food, I am often asked. How do I take my food? Very seriously, I laugh. But I am no health freak and I don’t intend to be one. I am not obsessed with each granule of sugar that I add to my food. I don’t hop on the weighing scale every now and then. I order in on weekends, just as I enjoy the cheese pizza on weekdays when I crave one. I don’t deprive myself of anything tasty, calorie-rich; but at the same time, I don’t overreact when I am served a kale salad with pumpkin seeds sprinkled on top. As winter sets in, I am looking forward to fresh soups. Eating healthy is not a conscious decision for me; it’s my reflex. More importantly, as I pen this, I don’t feel the need to gloat about having shared my healthy meal plans. This episode is just a page from ‘Dear Diary’ with the regular updates.
And I know, I am not alone. Look around, conversation starters on eating well, exercising enough, and staying fit are no longer best sellers. We’ve been there, done that. No longer do we coax or question one another on good eating habits. It’s just what we do. We have singled out our choice of ‘count the calories’ apps just as we have found our preferred grains, snacks, and desserts. The discussion about healthy eating is no longer about whether we’re saying no to French Fries — it’s a given. We’ve moved on and found our comfortable spot in Phase Two and are now debating on what tastes better — sweet potato or avocado fries.
No longer does mindful eating have anything to do with #healthgoals or #weightloss targets, it’s a mere habit — it’s seeped into our lives, effortlessly. It’s become our routine, kids and adults alike.