Food Wisdom

Food Wisdom

In Ultimate Grandmother Hacks, nutritionist Kavita Devgan makes a case for the traditional eating wisdom from our grandmother’s kitchens.

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Kavita Devgan

Rewind to ‘grandma’s hacks’

Today’s generation is spoilt for choice and that choice confuses them. Earlier, if our diet was 80 per cent Indian or local, 20 per cent was experimental. Today, it’s the other way around. We have so much exposure now and anything new sounds much more exciting. Unfortunately, what is old and traditional is made out to be difficult to follow, when it really isn’t, and this is combined with the perception that it is boring. That is perhaps why we have lost out on these traditional eating habits. I wanted to bring these back into our daily routines.

Listen to your gut

I sent a questionnaire to all my WhatsApp contacts, asking them how they eat, and I realised that nobody just eats. It’s always either with a book in hand or in front of the television. It’s very important to focus on your meal. If you just pay attention to your food as you’re consuming it, your body will tell you when to stop. But if you’re not even looking at your food, you won’t know when to. Your body will tell you that the burger that you’re eating is humongous but if you don’t even look at it, you’ll just be chomping away.

Choose wisely

I believe in the principle of moderation, so for me no food is bad food. By following simple rules like monitoring the portions or choosing wisely, you can incorporate desserts in your diet. For instance, if you have a choice between a gulab jamun and a rosogulla, choose the rosogulla. At least, it will give you some calcium and protein. Choose your desserts well so that along with taste, you get some goodness from it too. And most importantly, don’t feel guilty about indulging your sweet tooth.

Minimise harsh cooking practices


The less you do with food, the better. Overcooking leads to loss of nutrients. Shift to simpler cooking methods that do not require the food to come in contact with high-heat. Barbecuing, deep frying and high-temperature grilling can easily be substituted with sautéing, boiling or dum-cooking. Even the utensils we cook in, anything that has any coating on it or presents the risk of any chemical leaching into the food, should be avoided. Traditionally, earthenware, tender coconut or bamboo were used to cook in and we can easily go back to these.

Turn over a betel leaf

While the young generation looks down upon paan, it is a very good habit. Every single part of it — from the leaf to the ingredients that go into the traditional paan — is nutritious. It satisfies cravings for something sweet after a meal, it helps digestion and the chewing action works the salivary glands. The betel leaf, once exalted as a stimulant for the central nervous system, is rich in vitamin C, vitamin A, riboflavin, thiamine (B1), (B2), niacin (B3) and is packed with antioxidants. This, of course, is paan that does not contain tobacco, supari or choona.

Eat With Your Hands

Studies have now shown that it is far healthier to eat with your hands. The mudra formed while eating with your hands helps heal the body. This also helps you pay attention to your food. I also hope that even if people don’t follow it, they won’t ridicule those who use their hands to eat.