To Eat or Not to Eat?

A delicious box of cashew laddus lies innocently on the dining table. My heart wants to eat, but my brain calculates the calories. There is salad with lots of broccoli nearby, and it is definitely delicious, so I settle for that saying the sweet is reserved for after the meal.

To further my chagrin, my parents proclaim how in the old days, ghee was served in “dhonnai” cups, and nobody was any the wiser! Of course, these ghee drinking tummies have provided us with hours of glee! Under my wise tutelage, my cousins and brother all aged between 9 and 2, would eye-ball the said tummies from the side, and swing from the loft above for an aerial survey. The owners of the tummies were too sleepy to take notice – how couldn’t they be after wolfing down a meal consisting of vada^, payasam, 8 different kinds of vegetables, pacchidi, platefuls of rice, kesari, dhals, lentils, rasam, sambhar and curd?

Total calorie intake of 1 meal approximately = (Total calories required per day) * 3!

The tummy game was played as follows. Once the surveys were completed, each member would provide a “guess-timate” of the size.

Unit of Measurement used: palm lengths

So, I could say 6 palm lengths, and quietly measure the tummy with my palm to see how far off the mark I was! Occasionally, the tummies would begin to turn midway through the measurement process (the owner trying to shift positions during the nap!) Then, we had to change strategy slightly and measure from the base of the tummy to the belly button and multiply the result by 2.

Thank god, these meals were not a regular affair! I cannot imagine the effect it would have had on people’s health!

The other day, while shopping at Costco, we lingered longer than necessary at the dessert section. There were 4 different flavors of icecreams packaged together (competitively priced), a large box of Tiramusu (also competitively priced) and a box of sugary mini puffs (also competitively priced) to choose from. My brain unwillingly looked at the nutrional content on those containers and my hand put them back!

My heart stopped at a smaller store on the way back to obtain a smaller pack of icecream.

To use the most hackneyed expression of all time – ignorance really is bliss. Maybe, we too would have been wolfing down cartons of delicacies, had we not read about obesity, calories and cholesterol levels. And maybe, teams of brats led by nephews and neices would have been measuring our tummies!!!

^ Indian delicacies made with no regard to calorific content, but pays the best compliments to the tongue!

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18 thoughts on “To Eat or Not to Eat?”

  1. Hillarious to imagine the kids measuring the tummy of well-fed priest. I sincerely hope that don’t measure up to them 🙂 (in tummy width)

  2. Hillarious to imagine the kids measuring the tummy of well-fed priest. I sincerely hope that don’t measure up to them 🙂 (in tummy width)

  3. Saumya, you really come up with some very interesting topics.

    Cause and effect are very dicey things. But knowing what we know, the dilema is but- a natural process.

    In times of famine and unavailablity of food- fat happens to be the most intense store of energy. Hence our bodies are tuned towards maximizing that input. Forward to current and our economic being today- Fat happens to be a rule rather than the exception.

    Perhaps if this situation continues, in a few million years, the human body may evolve to dislike fat. Then imagine a nuclear fallout and the world is hungry and the human body rejects fat….. har har har — the battle between evolution and the environment continues…..

  4. Saumya, you really come up with some very interesting topics.

    Cause and effect are very dicey things. But knowing what we know, the dilema is but- a natural process.

    In times of famine and unavailablity of food- fat happens to be the most intense store of energy. Hence our bodies are tuned towards maximizing that input. Forward to current and our economic being today- Fat happens to be a rule rather than the exception.

    Perhaps if this situation continues, in a few million years, the human body may evolve to dislike fat. Then imagine a nuclear fallout and the world is hungry and the human body rejects fat….. har har har — the battle between evolution and the environment continues…..

  5. I am always confused about the fat consumption to tummy ratio.

    My theory: If you take just fat, your tummy should reduce.

    Reason: Fat is lighter and has more energy. So, logically, if you take more fat, you get all the energy you want and yet, you should not put on weight..:).. Not only that, your body needs more energy to break up fat so the resultant energy that the body acquires should be lesser…

    Conclusion: I attributed large tummies to extra carbs. It not only occupies most of the stomach (in terms of weight) and pushes its boundary outward, but also, when unused transforms to fat around the tummy…So, more carbs could be more tummy + more fat…

    So, sometimes, eating fat and not carbs may not be very bad after all….

    Disclaimer: It is assumed that you will burn the fat you consumed..:)

  6. I am always confused about the fat consumption to tummy ratio.

    My theory: If you take just fat, your tummy should reduce.

    Reason: Fat is lighter and has more energy. So, logically, if you take more fat, you get all the energy you want and yet, you should not put on weight..:).. Not only that, your body needs more energy to break up fat so the resultant energy that the body acquires should be lesser…

    Conclusion: I attributed large tummies to extra carbs. It not only occupies most of the stomach (in terms of weight) and pushes its boundary outward, but also, when unused transforms to fat around the tummy…So, more carbs could be more tummy + more fat…

    So, sometimes, eating fat and not carbs may not be very bad after all….

    Disclaimer: It is assumed that you will burn the fat you consumed..:)

  7. Suresh, I think your last point is the biggest caveat. Big picture, if input calories are less than output calores- I suppose one wouldn’t be able to store the fat.

    But in the normal case, the extra fat is typically a dollop over a rice laden plate. Now knowing what we know that to extract energy from carbs is easier for the body… I suppose the fat is stored away for *that* rainy day. This is in additions (as you mentioned) to the extra carbs transformed into storage fat.

    This doesn’t even touch the topic of side effects (good or bad) of a fat based diet.

  8. Suresh, I think your last point is the biggest caveat. Big picture, if input calories are less than output calores- I suppose one wouldn’t be able to store the fat.

    But in the normal case, the extra fat is typically a dollop over a rice laden plate. Now knowing what we know that to extract energy from carbs is easier for the body… I suppose the fat is stored away for *that* rainy day. This is in additions (as you mentioned) to the extra carbs transformed into storage fat.

    This doesn’t even touch the topic of side effects (good or bad) of a fat based diet.

  9. I still remember the good ol’ days when my daily ritual after dinner used to be listening intently to my father’s tummy! He had a rather nice urundai thoppai in those days and believe it or not, used to hear wierd sounds inside.

    Thought it funny then and used to go into splits of giggles but who knows, probably like you dad said, had to do with the donnai’s of NEI AKA Ghee which went in during each meal

    😉

  10. I still remember the good ol’ days when my daily ritual after dinner used to be listening intently to my father’s tummy! He had a rather nice urundai thoppai in those days and believe it or not, used to hear wierd sounds inside.

    Thought it funny then and used to go into splits of giggles but who knows, probably like you dad said, had to do with the donnai’s of NEI AKA Ghee which went in during each meal

    😉

  11. As you said, “Ignorance is really bliss”. Everyday, I count my protein,carbs,fat and fiber intake.
    Just to make sure I take them in the right amount and ofcourse the right variety.I wish eating was very simple and I could just eat whatever is available.
    But again, reading about vada,payasam…etc brings all pleasant memories and my tummy aches for them too.GHEE in “DHONNAIS”…Hmmmm Yummy!!

    Manohar,
    I thought my body had evolved into a fat rejecting one, only to end up dreaming of all kinds of FAT(alias YUMMY) delicacies after reading this blog.

  12. As you said, “Ignorance is really bliss”. Everyday, I count my protein,carbs,fat and fiber intake.
    Just to make sure I take them in the right amount and ofcourse the right variety.I wish eating was very simple and I could just eat whatever is available.
    But again, reading about vada,payasam…etc brings all pleasant memories and my tummy aches for them too.GHEE in “DHONNAIS”…Hmmmm Yummy!!

    Manohar,
    I thought my body had evolved into a fat rejecting one, only to end up dreaming of all kinds of FAT(alias YUMMY) delicacies after reading this blog.

  13. Mano, That was just a vetti comment..;)…focussing mostly on the tummy part…:)

    I would agree anytime on the fat-free diet… I think, as long as know calorific input/output ratio of ours, and plan our diet based on that, I think we should be okay… In the bigger scheme of things, anything is fine as long as it is in moderation (Alavukku minjinal Amirdhamum Nanju). So, dont eat more carbs or fat or both..:)

  14. Mano, That was just a vetti comment..;)…focussing mostly on the tummy part…:)

    I would agree anytime on the fat-free diet… I think, as long as know calorific input/output ratio of ours, and plan our diet based on that, I think we should be okay… In the bigger scheme of things, anything is fine as long as it is in moderation (Alavukku minjinal Amirdhamum Nanju). So, dont eat more carbs or fat or both..:)

  15. shoba,
    Add this to the list then… delicious creamy cakes, with fresh cream on top. Light reflecting off the cream and showing to be pure white (white is good). on the same table, there is gulab jaamun. With the sugary syrup viscously lying idle and the jamuns floating around… waiting to be eaten. Ice creams…. in rainbow colors…
    *did i hear stop?* :))

    suresh,
    well said about balanced eating. A few people in my family are like that. They eat a bit of everything and never overdo… hale and healthy with nary a worry. 🙂
    but me- think sriks x 5

  16. shoba,
    Add this to the list then… delicious creamy cakes, with fresh cream on top. Light reflecting off the cream and showing to be pure white (white is good). on the same table, there is gulab jaamun. With the sugary syrup viscously lying idle and the jamuns floating around… waiting to be eaten. Ice creams…. in rainbow colors…
    *did i hear stop?* :))

    suresh,
    well said about balanced eating. A few people in my family are like that. They eat a bit of everything and never overdo… hale and healthy with nary a worry. 🙂
    but me- think sriks x 5

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