As a mother of two and a working professional, a trip to the supermarket meant loading the trolley with the yummiest snacks that my kids and I can have while we breeze through my busy day. Those who are following my blog will know that in early 2018, my family and I committed to health transformation.
When anyone in the family falls ill, as mothers, we feel responsible and feel guilty. Our minds keep racing towards finding out what could have gone wrong.
As I walked along my fitness journey I realized, as mothers, we make all efforts to ensure that our family is always healthy.
Television, social media, apps, hoardings, store promotions, sales – just everywhere one sees products that profess to make your family fit as a fiddle.
The irony is that the very products you are buying to make your family healthy are the same ones that that are harming them.
I made many mistakes without realizing that are actually harming my family instead of helping them. After discussing with my husband, we underwent a total lifestyle change.
Here are 7 ‘healthy’ foods in my kitchen that were secretly killing my family.
1. Store bought ghee
Browse through the internet and you will find scores of links speaking about the benefits of ghee. There are hundreds of brands available that provide the convenience of just opening a bottle & offering “goodness and health” to your family. Store bought ghee contains chemicals and preservatives that are harmful to the body. At the same time, they are heavy on the pocket too.
Solution: Make ghee at home. It’s very easy & convenient.
Impact on health: I noticed that my husband’s & my acidity went down completely. Also, there is a certain fragrance of purity in home-made ghee. I have lost weight despite daily ghee consumption. My family loves the taste. My son feels more alert and at sports in school, my kids run faster.
2. Health Drinks
The goodness of milk flavoured with scoops of health powders. There are so many commercials that depict modern mothers who lovingly make their child chug a glass of milk that contains the “health” powder. The downside, again, is that they contain preservatives and flavouring substances (chemicals). So your child is actually chugging down a glass of chemicals in the milk. Most importantly, it also contains SUGAR – that poses several health risks in children and adults.
Solution: Make health powder at home using dry fruits.
Impact on health: I noticed that my children’s stamina was much better. They felt less tired despite a hectic schedule as school and play. The health drinks used to give them a burst of energy and then a low (natural effect of sugar) – with homemade health powders, they are getting healthy from within and also stay active throughout the day.
3. Refined White Sugar
Sugar is very important for the body and provides energy for all our activity. However, your health depends on the kind of sugar you are consuming: refined or natural. Refined sugar comes loaded with health hazards ranging from tooth decay to unhealthy weight gain to lifestyle diseases like diabetes. Many of us cannot do without our morning ‘chai’, the sugar in it seems to help us to kick-start our busy day. Sugar makes us dependent and taking it away from your diet can cause cravings.
Solution: Use natural sweeteners like organic jaggery for tea, beverages, and sweets. You can get loads of healthy sugar from all kinds of fruits. Alternatively, you can use raisins to feed your or your family’s cravings.
Impact on health: After you and your family get over the initial withdrawal symptoms of staying away from sugar. You will find yourself far more alert and focused and your weight loss will be faster. There are many other physiological and psychological benefits of ditching refined sugar.
For a while now, a packet of biscuits has become a quick replacement for meals in many households and offices. One finds it easier to open a pack than cooking a meal to crave hunger pangs. The downside is that apart from containing preservatives and chemicals, biscuits contain an unusually high amount of salt and sugar that is harmful to your family’s health.
Solution: Use your weekend wisely. Plan and prepare simple snacks that can substitute for biscuits – nashta puri, khakra, shankar pali, chakli, thepla, dhokla, kachori, etc. The advantage of preparing these at home is that you can control the proportions of salt/sugar and the quality of the ingredients used.
Alternatively, you can scout for home chefs who would be happy to provide you with these healthy snacks at a lower price than the store.
Impact on health: You will notice how your family gets healthier and calmer because of the decrease in harmful stuff they consume.
5. Instant noodles & pasta
This one is truly heart-breaking. My love affair with instant noodles dates back to childhood days. However, the fact remains that these contain a high level of salt, preservatives, and chemicals. With great difficulty, I removed instant noodles and pasta from my kitchen. I had to take efforts and cook fresh meals each time my children or husband had hunger pangs. However, I noticed that they reached out for healthier alternatives over time.
Solution: Plan your meal times in a way that you can serve fresh snacks like poha, upma, idlis, dosas to your family. If you are a working person, you can keep fresh fruits, home-made snacks handy.
Impact on health: With great difficulty, my kids moved away from unhealthy food to healthy food. It led to better moods, higher energy levels, and assertive behavior.
6. Vegetable oils
None of the vegetable oils is vegetable at all. Cooking oils are processed using chemical solvents, steamers, neutralizers, de-waxers, bleach & deodorizers before being bottled. For many years, I was misled into buying ‘healthy’ oils for my family till I came across this DNA article: Why you should avoid consuming vegetable oil at all costs.
Experts say common oils you must avoid include, Canola, cottonseed, soybean, and corn.
Solution: Use home-made ghee. Alternatively, you can use organic unrefined virgin coconut oil for high heat cooking. For salads, hummus etc, you can opt for extra virgin olive oil. Check and make sure that these oils don’t have anything else added to them.
Impact on health: I am finding a marked change in my husband and my cholesterol levels. We feel healthier and it has contributed to my weight loss.
7. Package juice
Many health-conscious individuals say no to aerated drinks and alcohol and reach out for a packaged juice instead. As mothers, we find it convenient to place a tetra pack of juice in the child’s dabba.
Did you know that Packaged juices are high in fructose and low in fibre? It can lead to increased insulin resistance. Next time you grab a packaged juice thinking its healthy, stop yourself immediately. When compared to freshly squeezed juices and fresh whole fruits, packaged juices are unhealthy. This article from Times Of India tells you why. (click to read)
Solution: Eat or serve whole fruit in the form of fruit salads or eaten as is. If your children or family members are fond of juice then prepare and serve freshly squeezed juice.
Impact on health: You will ensure that you are not loading unnecessary sugar, preservatives or chemicals in your family’s body. Whole fruits are rich in fibre and contain enough good sugars to help your family remain healthy. You will notice the positive impact of this lifestyle change in their complexion, stamina, alertness, mood and concentration levels.
During religious festivals, this year, we served fruits as prasad along with traditional sweets. Our guests were pleasantly surprised and even happy to take a break from the heavy food they were consuming during their visits to other people’s homes.
The other day, my friends grimaced when they were served tea without sugar. It was a tough task to explain my side of the story to them.
It’s really difficult to make a switch given that we have busy lives and so many friends and relatives to entertain. However, if you remain firm, loved ones will see reason and comply. If you plan well then you will be able to depend on healthy homemade food and snacks for your family.
I noticed that my husband, children and I are calmer, happier and more energetic. My children are now aware of the hazards of unhealthy eating and stay away. For me, in the beginning, it was a huge task, a challenge in planning and implementing it all. It has helped tremendously, health wise and money wise as well. We have saved money and trips to the doctor by throwing out these harmful things from our kitchen.
Will these harmful products disappear from your life?
The answer is ‘NO’. My kids sometimes bulldoze us into buying instant noodles, the extended family brings food as gifts, adult guests demand sugar and my kids’ friends request biscuits. It’s tough to say NO all the time. But I can safely say that we have progressed to a once a month consumption just because we don’t buy any of these at home.
It’s a roller coaster ride. But not stocking them in the kitchen has helped tremendously.
Do you agree with this post? I would love to read your own experiences. Do leave a comment and don’t forget to like and share this post with your friends and family.
Dear Reader: You must know that I am not a healthcare expert and nor am I posing to be one through this series. I am sharing my personal experiences and journey. I urge you to speak to your healthcare professional before trying anything in this series.
The content of this blog post contains information pertaining to the author’s own personal experience. It is not a substitute for a qualified medical professional’s advice. Please consult a nutrition specialist or doctor for more information.