Jun 27, 2019

Saffola Fittify Gourmet Breakfast Mixes Quinoa Upma / Poha

A few days back, I was explaining to a startup founder about my blog.
Me: "I help people decipher the ingredients list and nutrition facts of packaged foods, so they can make conscious food choices."
Him: "Interesting....but do you see it is making a difference?"
Me: "I hope so"
Him: "No one reads the labels. Packaged foods have become a way of life and we can't escape from it"

And the conversation continued in different directions.

It is a sad reality that most people don't read food labels. Because of this, many brands are fooling consumers in multiple ways. Be it the use of health tags, unbacked health claims, namesake mention of ingredients that are perceived to give good health etc. 

Let me share yet another example of how brands exploit our attraction towards "superfoods" and target people who jump to buy anything IF oats/quinoa/kale/millets/moringa etc are mentioned in the packs.

I have already written about Saffola Fittify Gourmet Meal Shake and Meal Soup. Do take a look if you haven't yet read them.

In this post, let's look at their "gourmet" breakfast mixes.

Saffola Fittify Gourmet Quinoa upma

The pack highlights quinoa in all possible ways - how it is a superfood, natural source of protein, 9 essential amino acids etc etc. BUT look at the ingredients list and the truth reveals itself.

Roasted semolina (rava) constitutes 64%. Quinoa is ONLY 9%. 
As I keep reiterating, we shouldn't blindly go with the nutrient values in gms. It is important to check for the source of the nutrient. Given that quinoa used is so less, the protein also comes from soy protein isolate (3rd ingredient). 
Dehydrated veggies is around 4.2%, hardly any nutrition there.

The same story repeats in their other breakfast mixes as well.

Saffola Fittify Gourmet Quinoa poha

Rice flakes used is 58%, whereas quinoa is ONLY 7%
And the oil used is corn oil, one of the worst possible cooking oils.

Saffola Fittify Gourmet Millet upma

Semolina (rava) used is 71%, whereas mixed millets contribute ONLY 12%. It is so easy to make a millet upma WITHOUT any rava. What's the point of such ""gourmet" mixes?

Saffola Fittify Gourmet Millet poha

Rice flakes used is 67%, whereas mixed millets contribute ONLY 12%.

Clearly, this brand is so misleading. The packaging MAINLY highlights quinoa, millets and their health benefits. BUT the amounts used are so minuscule.

People who live abroad, this is the kind of "gourmet" stuff we get in India. When I talk about quinoa, oats etc, please look at the reality here in INDIA before you judge my posts. You might get the best ingredients and high quality packaged foods in the country where you live in, where there are stricter regulations and packaging norms. None of that is happening here. People are being misled by brands left, right and centre. 

Jun 26, 2019

Why I don't use the hashtag #eatclean anymore

Yesterday, one of my Instagram followers had replied to my post that I should start using #anueatsclean tag. During my initial days on Instagram, I used to add this hashtag #eatclean to many posts but I no longer use it. And there is a reason behind this decision.

The term "Clean eating" has become associated with fancy super foods, imported produce, calorie counted / macros distributed plates and latest diet fads. Since I don't subscribe to any of these ideas, I decided not to tag my posts with #eatclean.

Nutrition and food has become a passionate topic for many, including yours truly. And each of us believe our ideologies strongly. Yes, these are our beliefs. I believe that avoiding packaged foods and eating fresh, local, seasonal and traditional foods is one of the important elements behind good health. 

I never said in any of my posts that calorie counting is bad OR macros tracking is bad. All I say is that I don't believe in calorie counting or macros tracking. I don't believe in latest diet fads. If you believe in these, good for you. But let's accept the fact that there are also people in the world who don't believe in these latest trends. If you don't want to accept them for their different ideologies, do unfollow them, so you can be at peace. I have unfollowed many people who promote packaged, junk foods. Believe me, I'm more at peace when I scroll through my feed.

The concepts of nutrition, food chain and diets have intentionally been made so complicated that one cannot claim that a particular diet form is superior or THE BEST to solve all health issues. As individuals, we tend to BELIEVE or NAVIGATE towards a certain form of eating. It works for us and for our family. It may not be the ABSOLUTE truth but we tend to perceive it that way. 

Until and unless we grow the food ourselves and embrace the garden-to-plate (farm-to-plate), we wouldn't be able to claim that this particular food is THE HEALTHIEST. The binary way of thinking will not help us to choose the right foods.

I prefer to take the point of view - "It's all relative". How healthy a certain food is as compared to something else?

To give you an example, cauliflower is being pitched as the low calorie food and it is being extensively consumed by those who are on low carb diets. But as a person who BELIEVES in eating seasonal produce, I wouldn't buy cauliflower in summers. I'm not aware of the kind of chemicals being used in order to meet the demand for cauliflowers all throughout the year. I'd rather pick summer veggies like gourds, cucumbers and ladyfingers that are in alignment with nature and so the use of chemicals would be RELATIVELY low (again, it is an assumption that I'm making).

 I'm a vegetarian but I don't consume a lot of dairy products. I have read many reports on the harmful practices being followed in producing commercial dairy products. So that has made me believe that I don't want to depend on dairy for my protein needs. I BELIEVE that plant-based protein sources are relatively BETTER options and I try to buy organic as much as possible. Again, it is my assumption that there are no pesticides residue in the organic dals I'm buying. 

These are examples of conscious decisions that I make based on my beliefs. As humans, it is natural that we gather evidences to support/reinforce our beliefs. In the era of social media, we tend to share these evidences and proclaim our beliefs to the world.

"We are what we eat" - you might have heard of this familiar proverb. "We are what we consume" - Our beliefs get formed based on content we consume from books, social media, videos, articles, podcasts, direct interactions with people etc. My beliefs related to food and nutrition are being formed, thanks to my family elders, Dr.Sivaraman, Rujuta Diwekar, Luke Coutinho, Dr.Khader, Healer Baskar, Semmai vanam's Senthamizhan and many others.

So long story short...I believe in eating fresh, local, seasonal and traditional foods. I don't believe in calorie counting, macros tracking or latest diet fads. My posts will reflect these beliefs. If you are offended by these, please feel free to unfollow me. 

Jun 20, 2019

Epigamia Greek Yogurt Smoothie Review

I had already posted about the ingredients in flavored Greek yogurt. This one is the newly launched smoothie variant in a plastic bottle. The price point is Rs.70.

This 200ml strawberry flavoured pack contains a whopping 24.3 gm / 6 TSP of sugar. Yeah, 6 TSP. The total fruit content is only around 7%. 

And the best part is this line "our smoothie is just like your lassi". Really? I don't remember that we add permitted enzyme, stabilizer and acidity regulator in our lassi. And definitely not 6 TSP of sugar. I'm not even looking into the protein content, given the high amounts of sugar. Will eat a bowl of dal / sundal for my protein.

Yet another junk masquerading as healthy. Would the new investor Deepika Padukone include this in her diet?

Jun 18, 2019

Book Review: Parenting - Innocence to Inner Sense by Aarti Rajarathnam and Brinda Jayaraman

 Though social media usage is attributed to several issues, I must admit that I discover interesting people and their works through social media. Early 2014, a friend on FB shared a video snippet of a talk by Dr.Sivaraman and ever since I saw that video, I have become a big fan of him, read all his books and articles. His works have made a tremendous difference in my food habits since then.

A few months back, I stumbled upon a hard-hitting talk given by Aarti Rajarathnam on modern-day parenting issues. Since then, I have listened to many of her talks. So sensible, patient and relevant for today's parenting challenges. I also found out that she had written a book on the topic of parenting along with Brinda Jayaraman. 

I was so happy when I realized that this book is on Kindle Unlimited

This book dives into depth about four parenting styles, the issues both the child and parent need to handle and the impact on the personality of growing children depending on the parenting style being followed. This was an interesting chapter with relevant case studies.

The chapter on quality time is something we modern parents need to hear. This hard-hitting line sums it up - "You should never be substituted by an object or gift."

"Children know when you are not paying attention to them and it affects them deeply and often makes them feel rejected and unwanted because you make them feel that someone else or something else is more important."

Importance of social skills, respect for others, rules and boundaries are explained in detail. The reasons for a child's misbehavior could be attributed to one of the four Cs - the need to connect, to feel capable, to feel counted and to feel courageous. The explanation was just brilliant and I could relate to many scenarios.

The book keeps getting better as we progress. The chapter on "Mental toxins" was so impactful. The difference between poison and toxin felt like an aha moment to me, and I could relate to this when it comes to why parents feed junk to their kids.

"Poison is any substance that causes instant death. A toxin is a substance that causes a slower death often with subtle or no symptoms."

Mental toxins being referred here are excess use of gadgets, television, video games etc. The author has explained on the possible ill-effects of such use and how it affects the child. She has also given many guidelines on how to set rules and moderate usage, how to use technology effectively, importance of PLAY and outdoors. 

There is also a chapter on various parenting myths. The one that I really loved was the difference between bribe and reward. It was mind-blowing. I have been making this mistake with D - only IF you do this, you will get this. 

"The difference between a bribe and a reward is that in the bribe scenario the child is in control though you think you are and in the reward situation, you are truly in control but are able to get the desired outcome or result from the child. "If-then" rule implies a bribe and "When-then" rule implies a reward."

The final chapter on mind, body and spirit talks about many useful practices that contribute to holistic development of the child. Lots of helpful tips and guidelines here. I'm sure I need to read this book one more time to fully absorb the material.

I'd highly recommend this book to ALL parents. Please do read.

"To be in your children's memories tomorrow, you have to be in their lives today" - Barbara Johnson


Jun 16, 2019

Book Review: The Magic Weight Loss Pill by Luke Coutinho and Anushka Shetty

I have been following Luke Coutinho's works for the past couple of years. His thoughts on wellness, nutrition and fitness resonate with me so much. Needless to say, I've become a fan and look forward to his videos on FB/youtube. When he announced his new book "The magic weight loss pill", I was pretty excited and I had pre-ordered a copy.

If you have been listening to his videos regularly (like me), you would definitely hear his voice as you read this book :-)
The focus area of the book is LIFESTYLE and it is prescribed as a magic pill, not just for weight loss but for general fitness, well-being and for a healthy life. The first part of the book covers the four pillars of good health - balanced nutrition, fitness, sleep and emotional detoxification. Many examples and case studies are covered, along with ailments-specific explanations. The second part of the book talks about 62 lifestyle changes, explained in an easy-to-implement manner.

What I loved about this book is the simplicity of the writing. Many concepts like detoxification, hormonal balance, acidity, inflammation, stress response etc are explained in layman terms by demystifying the jargon. The explanation of gut health and how nutrients are absorbed from the large intestine using the fishing net example was just amazing.

Apart from the 62 lifestyle changes, there are quite a bit of takeaways that one can implement in their life, by going through the first part of the book.

A few powerful phrases that made an impact on me:

"Less is more when it comes to the consumption of protein"

"All cravings could just be an unhealthy gut communicating with your brain in the wrong language"

"If you want to eat sweets and junk food, never do so immediately after a workout"

"Using exercise to lose weight or as a remedy to eating the wrong food is the reason why weight loss continues to be the most wanted and yet most elusive goal for most people"

"If I were given a choice between artificial sweetener and white sugar, I would pick the latter because the human body is not designed to break down aspartame."

"Working out for one hour everyday and then sitting for the rest of the days makes you just 4 percent more active than someone who doesn't work out."

The only thing I wish that was different in this book is the structure or the way in which the 62 lifestyle changes are presented. It could have been grouped under the 4 pillars or in some other logical group, so it would be easy for us to relate or remember. Nevertheless, the take-aways are plenty, that this lack of structure doesn't matter much. 

Do pick up this book if you are interested in nutrition, health, fitness and of course, weight loss.

Jun 11, 2019

What's inside packaged milkshakes?

Over the past year or so, there has been a rise in the number of packaged milkshake brands that are being launched in India. At the same time, I also notice the proliferation of milkshake outlets in every nook and corner of Bangalore - Frozen Bottle, Keventers etc. 

What are the factors influencing the growth of milk-based beverages market? What's the growth rate of milk production in the country? How is the local demand trending? Are people shifting from packaged fruit juices to packaged milkshakes/flavored yoghurts etc? Or is it because of flat or declining export demands? Something worth exploring.

As part of my daily news updates, I go through fnbnews to learn about new product launches. I came across this launch announcement a few days back - ITC launches dairy beverages SunFeast Wonderz milk in 4 variants. 

A Bigbasket search for milkshakes shows up at least 7-8 brands of milkshakes with many variants, all of them with the usual promise of "high protein / high calcium / added vitamins & minerals". But a peek into the ingredients list and nutrition facts will clearly show how every single brand is loaded with sugar. Here's a quick comparison of the popular brands.

1. As you can see, each brand contains around 5-6 tsp of sugar per pack. Do note that the nutrition facts table shows values per 100 ml whereas the pack size is either 180ml / 200 ml. We need to be conscious of this fact.

2. The shelf life of all these packs is close to 6 months. How does milk stay fit for consumption for 6 months? Obviously, there are various additives added to increase the shelf life - emulsifiers, stabilizers etc.
3. I have only looked at the vanilla flavors of these brands. The fruit flavors have hardly any real fruit pulp but contain many synthetic food colors and artificial flavors. For example, Sunfeast Wonderz fruit n milk mango flavor emphasizes "mango pulp and bits" in the front label but if you look at the ingredients, mango pulp is ONLY 4% and mango bits are 2.5%. The yellow color comes from synthetic food colors - INS 102 and INS 110.

4. Paperboat uses this tagline "drinks and memories" but I don't remember our mothers/grandmothers adding xanthan gum/guar gum/carrageenan to our milkshakes. Let's not fall for such emotional traps (nostalgia, guilt, fear) being used extensively in marketing these days. 

Most of us have a mixer/blender at home. Let's make milkshakes at home IF we want to drink them. Totally not worth buying these tetra packs of sugar, synthetic colours, artificial flavors and additives.

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