Why is it so difficult to 'eat right'?

Eating healthy on a daily basis can be challenging


Sushmita Bose

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Published: Fri 31 Mar 2023, 2:14 PM

Last updated: Fri 31 Mar 2023, 2:16 PM

“Are you eating right?” is a question I keep hearing. What does it mean? Does it mean having the right portions of carbs, proteins and fats in your daily diet plan? Or does it mean decreasing certain food types and increasing certain others because “don’t buy that carbs-proteins-fats mumbo jumbo, you need to imbibe a customised plan to suit your ‘health and fitness goals’?” Or does it just mean eat (mostly) salads and fruits and lean meats and fatty fish (because that’s the ‘good fat’) — and cut down on the fried stuff?

There are more permutations and combinations about ‘eating right’, but my question today is: why is it so difficult to eat right, whatever that permutation and combination might be?

It happens to me all the time. I wake up in the morning on some days and decide, from today onwards till thine kingdom come, I will eat right. Of course, I will be using basic common sense: eat stuff that will not go on to pile up calories.

So there I am at work, feeling particularly proud of myself that I’ve only had idlis (steamed, therefore, deemed ‘healthy’) for brekkie, and am carrying a carefully-curated colourful salad from the Spinneys’ ‘to-go’ section for lunch. On cue, someone walks into my room with a tray of delectable-looking, sugary sweet laddoos.

“What is this?” I want to know, knowing fully well what that is.

“Laddoos,” responds the tray carrier. So-and-so has come back from holiday to a place that specialises in extra sweet and extra ghee-laden treats.

“Oh no,” I fake steely determination (my heart is already melting like that ghee did when it was whisked into the confection that comprises the rest of the laddoos). “I can’t… I’m on a, er, diet.”

“Come on!” the tray carrier laughs. “Have one. Start your diet from tomorrow.”

I capitulate in a shot. In fact, the laddoo turns out to be so good, I ask for a second one.

This happens without fail. Temptation comes calling at all odd hours to ensure I do not get to eat right (whatever that means).

The other day I met a friend who was talking about eating right himself. “I’m putting on too much weight,” he’d said glumly on the phone. “Let’s have a healthy breakfast somewhere.” We zeroed in on a low-cal joint and tried to be enthusiastic about it.

On the day of the breakfast meet, I pinged him to say shall we forget about tedious oats and whey, and instead go to this amazing-yet-unhealthy eatery close to my place that serves the best bedmi pooris (puffed up, deep-fried Indian bread served with unimaginably good potato curry and spicy pickle) in town?

I was expecting some form of protest. Not everybody is like me, after all. But there was none. He agreed in a trice.

While discussing how tough it is to “eat right”, we devoured a plate of bedmi pooris each, then ordered some more oily snacks, and a round of bitterly sweet dessert, and washed it all down with two cups of milky tea (each).

“Don’t put sugar in the tea,” I warned the waiter pompously, while my friend burst out laughing.

“You want sugar-free tea?” the waiter asked.

“No, I want the sugar separately — you guys put too much sugar… at times, too little.”

Yes, I do feel guilty — but when I do, I think back to what my grandmother told me when I was six years old and wasn’t under any pressure to eat right in the modern-day sense: “Eat whatever makes you happy — nothing can go wrong then.” I know grandma was giving me a convenient line, but I still seek sweet succour from it.



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