It’s Not Just Maggi!

A few years ago, before I was bumped off by her, my lunch used to come from Ms. Vijaya Venkat’s health service. She would make it a point to keep telling us about the five white poisons; sugar, salt, maida, oil and milk and her vegetarian food used to be extraordinarily good despite the minimal use of these “poisons”.

Over the years, I have realised that she was both right and wrong. I have followed her “only fruits till lunch” dictum quite religiously, but I disagree with her when it comes to milk, salt and oil. I personally don’t drink milk because I am partly lactose intolerant, but if you are not, it is a wonderful food. Salt and oil taken in the right proportions are good for the body as well.

The problem is with sugar and maida. These are pure carbohydrates (carbs) and the prime reason for the shooting “chubbiness” that is hitting all sections of our society.

Last month, Christopher McDougall released his new book “Natural Born Heroes”. The book dizzily moves from parkour to Greek resistance fighters to abstinence from carbohydrates, but the one message that shines through is that the best way to stay fit is to let the body burn fat. And for that to happen, our carb intake has to be as less as possible. A good way is to avoid high glycemic index foods (rice, refined wheat, sugar, etc) and to move towards foods that are low glycemic index (broccoli, nuts, eggs, cheese, etc). I did that last month and while the first week was as tough as a Jain “athai”, after the second week the craving for carbs was gone. Given that in our society it is virtually impossible to avoid carbs, I am slowly managing to eat carb laden foods as sparingly as possible.

Maggi is among the most carb rich foods there is. Which is one of the reasons why when you are traveling in Ladakh, at virtually all restaurant stops, the staple food is either Maggi or “thukpa”, which is also a local noodle soup, fresher, but with less carbs than Maggi. Hot Maggi is cheap, heats up the body, provides instant energy and feels nourishing, which is why it is so popular in cold Ladakh.

Forget the lead content and the so-called “ajinomoto” issue. The problem with Maggi and similar foods really is that of carbs. Cornflakes in all forms, virtually all chocolates, Coke, Pepsi, Frooti and all similar drinks and virtually all processed foods are essentially unhealthy and go straight to the belly or the buttock.

Michael Pollen has a simple mantra. Avoid anything that comes in a tin or is packaged and processed. Eat fresh produce, cooked fresh. This automatically leads to a healthier food lifestyle and a significant reduction in the intake of all foods that are high in carbs.

After turning 50, you realise that the only important thing is your health. And eating right is perhaps the single most important thing that determines your health, after your genes.

Maggi should be banned, but not because of the lead content, but because it just is an extremely unhealthy food item. Period!

21 Comments

  • Sunita wrote:

    A very informative article. And true after 50 one needs to take care of health as by then you begin to realise that is the only true wealth if you do not want to be bed ridden or dependent with unheard of ailments. Thanks Bhavin..carbs aare surely going oit from my menu! Err…maggie waas anyway never in the picture.

  • Bhavin Jankharia wrote:

    The less carbs the better. Have fun.

  • Crispino wrote:

    Great article Doc. Finding it really difficult to control my eating. All that you say is so true.

  • Bhavin Jankharia wrote:

    Should keep it under control. Running helps bring in that discipline.

  • Every ass likes his bray so we are herds and herds have no brians

  • Herds have no brians and banana people are still chasing it.

  • Neel Tandon wrote:

    For making up the necessary caloric needs according to one’s ideal wt it would be difficult to meet the target without a reasonable dose of carbs. And these could be the healthier ones such as mixed grains and the likes Bhavin

  • Bhavin Jankharia wrote:

    True, but nuts, dals help in making up the calories.

  • Namita wrote:

    Cornflakes also? Always thought it was a healthy breakfast!

  • Bhavin Jankharia wrote:

    Nothing that is packaged and processed Namita is healthy.

  • P. Vennkatraman wrote:

    LCHF as the new acronymn in vogue is.
    Low Carbs High Fat.

  • Bhavin Jankharia wrote:

    Hadn’t heard that one, so thanks.

  • Armaity Suresh Patel wrote:

    Just like the lady mentioned by you who warned you against all whites, I too used to tell everybody when I used to see the T.V. add encouraging children to have Maggie soup by emphasizing, “Khao Piyo” “Piyo Khao” by a film actress. I used to wonder how the little children could digest a lot of maida?? That to daily?? Were their parents not bothered or concerned about their children’s health? These children grow obese. So lead or no lead it should be banned from our diet.
    Thanks Bhavin and take care!

  • Bhavin Jankharia wrote:

    It is a lot of maida. Fine if it is consumed perhaps once a month. But daily? As a regular meal? That would not make sense.

  • V.Subramanian wrote:

    Our parents and grand parents never had to contend with issues of packed processed foods as they were virtually non existent. The occasional visit to a local restaurant was a luxury and considered an outing. Wonder how the today’s young parents grapple with issues of their kids avoiding packaged food or beverages. The TV channels are replete with such ads. Even some of the school canteens stock them. It sure is a big challenge for working parents. If celebrities are liable for endorsing Maggie, so are all those who exhibited their endorsements and earned several lakhs per second.

  • Bhavin Jankharia wrote:

    That is true. Basically, anything in a package should be avoided or had in really small quantities.

  • laxman wrote:

    Dear Bhavin,very good article with clear message to avoid carbs.Water/air and food-beverages all contaminated or adulterated.How to live in Metros or urban areas/
    MSG and ajinomoto both dangerous for health over a period of time and can affect kidney/liver or heart.
    Bur survival has become really difficult with adulterated food stuff and polluted air and water.

  • Bhavin Jankharia wrote:

    Perhaps Laxman, but we can still try our best to control the quality of the food we eat.

  • M R Sundaram wrote:

    Liked Maggie, had lot of appetite quenched by atta, wheat & Oat based Maggie! But bid a (sad :( ) farewell to Maggie since last week. Have stock , but not touching it. Feel guilty to give to any one – should discard it to dust bin.

  • Siddhi wrote:

    While, I am not great Maggie fan and kept my family reasonably far from it, mainly due to maida, the sudden ban on Maggie and reasons given are unfathomable. A country surviving on adulterated milk, water, fruits and vegetables, banning a product due to excess lead etc. is beyond normal senses. Some deeper reason – not known to general public can be a good matter of writing a good book!!!

  • Excellent blog! As a traditional rice eater I’m unable to figure out how to eliminate rice and wheat. I think it’s not as easy as it seems. I recently came across a diet plan called Dash Diet. The NIH pdf for the Dash Diet is very specific on calorie reduction and assures lowering of BP, but following the plan is a difficult do.
    Your right. Maggi should be banned or at the least carry a label saying “May cause Obesity in susceptible individuals”

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