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Maggi row: The joy of junk food just paled a little

The joy of junk food just paled a little

Written by Leher Kala | New Delhi |
Updated: June 8, 2015 1:10:31 pm
Maggi, Maggi ban, Maggi row, Maggi controversy, Maggi noodles, instant noodles The Maggi fallout is that it has started an important dialogue on how we in cities live, what we eat, and our relaxed attitudes to our children eating out of a packet.

All along the two hour route from Manali to Rohtang Pass, a circuitous and bumpy highway with spectacular views of snow capped peaks and the Beas, tourists break for the only form of sustenance available: tea, and Maggi noodles. It’s something of a tradition. The minute you reach snow point and the winds are icy, there’s bound to be a stall selling a steaming plate of Maggi. Trekkers, in fact, just lost one half of their menu. Will be just as well for those currently on a mountain if they conduct checks on Heinz baked beans after climbing season is over.

When we were growing up in the ’80s, there used to be this product, Fry-ems. Little round things something like the Mercedes logo, you had to dump them in hot oil and they would become crunchy, salty, balls. I don’t see them anymore. That was the extent of packaged foods we ate, rarely, on occasions. Now, there are Smileys at kids’ birthday parties. Smiling potato wedges that you can pull out of a deep freeze months after purchase and serve. It’s best not to think about what goes into making it edible for so long. My 12-year-old son was calculating, he’s probably consumed about a 100 packets of Maggi so far. He listens, agog, to the information pouring in, much more seriously now. The Maggi fallout is that it has started an important dialogue on how we in cities live, what we eat, and our relaxed attitudes to our children eating out of a packet.

Irrespective of whether Madhuri Dixit proclaims a junk food as healthy or Preity Zinta models for chips or Dhoni for a cola brand, the educated middle class in India has been well aware that all these products have no nutritional value whatsoever. This is not news to us, though, of course, we weren’t expecting to get poisoned by instant noodles. But we can’t claim we were fooled by celebrity endorsements.

Our kids have been merrily tucking into these items entirely with our knowledge and if not exactly active, with our passive encouragement. In the incredibly versatile culinary expanse that is India, and in light of these new facts, the city parent needs to take stock of why our kids are indulged so much, to their detriment. It’s a wake-up call to figure out ways to improve their diets and systematically stunt the new proclivity to burgers, pizzas and chocolate.

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It’s not going to be easy. Outings in cities are to malls, not parks. Kids play on computer devices more than outdoors. In the TV show Man Vs Food, the host participates in food challenges that involve him eating copious amounts to the point of sickness. It’s a runaway hit. The entire culture has veered towards sedentary entertainment and an unhealthy obsession with fast food. Every parent, at some stage, struggles with meals and finding the balance between healthy and treat foods. Urban India struggles with a time deficit and making even a simple dal, sabzi and rice cuts into whatever few hours you have left. Cooking, after a hard day’s work, is a painful and tedious chore.

Eating healthy requires planning and turning a deaf ear to grumpy kids complaining about dinner since their taste buds have been ruined with artificial sweeteners and high sodium. The reality is when there is absolutely no option, kids will eat whatever is there if they’re hungry. It’s the best way out or at least till they’re wise enough to think hard about what they’re consuming.

📣 The above article is for information purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional for any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition.

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