“There is no sincerer love than the love of food” said George Bernard Shaw. And true to his words, man lives to eat. All his activities are centred round gathering, cooking and eating. But food today has assumed different connotations. It is not just something that is needed to live but it is something that people live for. As everything else, food has been garbed by the threads of sophistication and finesse.

The culturally and geographically diverse country of India is also exemplified by its equally diverse cuisine. The states and the people are defined by their food habits. For instance, the Punjabi people are known for their robust appetites. Their meals are simple, sizeable and hearty. The most famous being the tandoori items. Similarly, Kashmir is famous for its apples, nuts, and strawberries, so their meal consists a lot of exotic desserts. The Kashmiri chillies and saffron that are not too spicy, impart a rich red colour to the food.

Down south, Keralites use a lot of coconut oil in their food due to abundance of coconuts, which is also the secret behind their glowing skin. People in the coastal states of Orissa and West Bengal eat a lot of fish and fish items generally made in mustard oil.

Due to lack of fresh vegetables in the arid states of Rajasthan and Gujarat, people use a wide variety of dals (lentils) and pickles.

Andhra Pradesh is famous for its Guntur chillies and that is why Andhra food can be really spicy and hot. Similarly Chettinad cuisine from Tamil Nadu is famous for spicy non-vegetarian food.

The usage of spices characterises the Indian cuisine. No wonder, Aishwarya Rai was portrayed as an ‘Indian' in the movie ‘The Mistress of Spices'. Spices tickle our taste buds and one hardly thinks about cholesterol levels, while savouring the mouth watering dishes.

During festivals our platter is practically laden with all kinds of eatables be it for Christmas, New Year or Pongal! And so there is a need to eat healthy and eat smart.

One must be conscious of what to eat and how much to eat. There is a need to understand the limitations of the stomach and be sensitive to the needs of the body that requires a great deal of awareness of the self. Avoid eating too oily stuffs, prefer fruit juices over aerated drinks and instead of sitting down after a heavy meal; go for a walk. Store in a lot of fruits and vegetables and lean meat once the festive season subsides.

Have control over the waistline. As Mark Twain once said- “The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don't want, drink what you don't like and do what you'd rather not”. So all those gourmets, you can still satisfy your taste buds and not blow like a balloon by choosing the right diet this festive season and continue to live to eat and not eat to live! Bon appetite!

Ratnika Sharma and Karishma Lodaya

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