You Are What You Eat

In today’s world, there is not a more universal topic of discussion than that of food and nourishment. This week, ‘gourmet queen’ Asha Khatau introduced us to a wealth of ideas to help make our meals more nourishing and more delectable. Khatau has run cooking classes for the past fifteen years at Epicure, a brand she established herself. She also has eight cookbooks, numerous awards, and highly acclaimed titles to her credit.

Khatau’s talk was founded on the premise, “You are what you eat”. She extolled the benefits of healthy eating with the argument that every cell in our body has a shelf life: after every few days, the cell changes. Thus, whatever is on your plate will soon be in your body, affecting its formation at a cellular level. She urged Rotarians to think twice about whether what is on our plates is worth entry into our bodies with the question, “Is this food which is [on] my plate going to form good cells for me inside?” Her resolution involves building good cells in the body by consuming whole grains, pulses, vegetables, and fruits. Khatau explained, “The nutrients and the food you eat provide the foundation of the structure, function, and integrity of every little cell in your body. From your skin to your hair and from your muscles to your immune system, your body is constantly repairing.” A major part of Khatau’s talk was devoted to engaging busy entrepreneurs and working professionals. Khatau revealed how working for eight to ten hours daily requires a good energy store in the body and that a headache or upset stomach could be related to an unhealthy diet.

The speaker demonstrated how feeling “brain-fried” is rooted in the brain releasing oxidants, which can be countered by consuming antioxidants such as nuts, fruits, and herbal teas. She advised the working populace, “Eat like an athlete.”

Khatau also alerted Rotarians about the detrimental effects of consuming processed foods, plain flours, and sugars, as these induce lethargy and must thus be replaced with foods that instead generate a healthy state of being. Her advice for breakfast entails drinking a sufficient amount of water, followed by a small breakfast right after waking up, and a heavier breakfast comprising of complex carbohydrates, such as whole grain oats, fruits and nuts, right before leaving for work. Protein could also be included in your breakfast meal plan in the form of quinoa (which can be added to upma) as it has a high protein content.

Thereafter, Khatau warned Rotarians about the negative effects of caffeine. Although it may evoke a ‘feel-good’ factor, it can quickly reach the bloodstream and make us tired. So if we feel like our bodies need a boost, we may opt to have a cup of coffee in the mid-afternoon.

A great learning from the session was the advice on how we must plan our meals; For example, if you know you will be having a heavy dinner, then choose to have a light lunch, thus ensuring balance within your system. She emphasised the importance of light dinners that should be eaten between seven-thirty and eight pm. Khatau also highlighted the importance of drinking water every hour or so. (Though water intake can be reduced post five pm so as to prevent disturbed sleep.)

A special take-away from this engrossing talk was Khatau’s explanation of the power of mental affirmation in the dietary domain, such as mentally repeating “I do not like desserts,” and being creative with the mind to alter dietary intake.