A dash of Pepper…

…with a splash of Mint


Posted by Pepper on January 18, 2012

Have you seen these kind of warnings displayed in restaurants?

I’ve seen them a lot of times, and each time I wondered, what motivates us to ignore these warnings and consume such food?

This is what it says “Warning. Chemicals known to the state of California to cause cancer, or birth defects or other reproductive harm may be present in foods or beverages sold or served here”

We were out having lunch this weekend, and I noticed the warning put up at the entrance of the restaurant. I pulled out my cell phone and took a picture. The irony was that the restaurant was bursting with people. Nobody seems to really care. Putting up these notices is a legal requirement in the state of California. A lot of restaurants display them. And we have all become so immune to these threats, we just pretend to not notice and binge on that favourite food of ours.

And even if we do care, can we really do anything about it? There are carcinogenic agents present in almost every single thing we ingest. Can we stop eating then? Sure we can cut down on the junk, but that doesn’t mean the non junky food is not adulterated. In India especially, the amount of pesticide present in fruits and vegetables makes them poisonous. It is scary.

This link says, “In the end what the consumers get is daily doses of a cocktail of deadly chemicals, in much higher quantities than safe limit.”

And this one that says, “Out of five internationally-banned pesticides, four were found to be common in vegetables sold in the Indian markets”

There is sufficient research to prove that we live in a very toxic environment. Neurological damage, kidney problems and cancer are on the rise. It is a terrifying reality and I don’t know what we can do to stop it. A lot of us remain oblivious to the fact that our daily consumption is poisonous. Our diet is toxic.

One of my goals this new year was to eat healthy. We can’t do much about the contamination around us, but I wanted to do all that I could within my means. I thought our diet was pathetic. No, we didn’t eat rice, we had absolutely no fried stuff, we didn’t consume too much of sugar, and yet, everything we ate seemed wrong. For one, we ate a lot of ‘chapatis’. We ate those with a good quantity of veggies and curries, but I wanted to do away with the daily consumption of rotis.

The past few days, we’ve been eating a lot of fresh salads, fruits, sandwiches, stuffed wraps, sprouts, greens, eggs, and other stuff. But that is dinner. Now that I am not working and I am home alone all day, I have no enthusiasm to eat right during the day. I have often wished Mint would come home for lunch. It would motivate me to cook a healthy meal, and most importantly, it would ensure I eat right, and at the right time.

Maybe it is just me, but the idea of having a solitary meal makes me feel devastatingly lonely. I always associate meals with good company. I do enjoy my own company during the day, but ask me to sit down on the dining table and eat a quiet meal by myself and the silence begins to prick me. It makes me feel like I am all alone. Since I have no interest in those lonely meals, I think of ways to get done soon. On most days, I eat quick, make do meals like Maggi or Mac n Cheese. And on some days, I don’t eat at all.

This is really not how I want it to be. I don’t know how long our healthy eating phase will last, but for now, I want to rectify my behaviour and make sure I eat something substantial during the day, even if I am all alone. I’ve made this resolve a number of times in the past, only to fail miserably in a few days. I’ve had grave fights with Mint because of this very attitude of mine. He says he feels most helpless when I don’t eat right and he isn’t around to make sure I do. I have made several promises to him in the past, and not lived up to them. This time, I want to give it another try, very sincerely. How hard can it be to take care of your own self? I will do it. I hope.


54 Responses to “Look!”

  1. first first!!! 😀

    I suggest you watch Food, Inc on netflix. It is a very good documentary on food practices in america. Another (unasked for) suggestion: get your produce from farmer’s markets. The fact that veggies in safeway are on shelf for literally months makes me want to not eat them. We do get our traditional desi veggies form indian store once in a while, but mostly its seasonal produce from farmers market. You have got to believe me on this that it is better in so many different ways! Ok, il stop my bhenji type advice and add that I have not seen this sign in restaurants here. Maybe next time il watch closely. And something which one of my friends told me few years back-if you dont have good health, you really dont have anything else, made me change the way I looked at being healthy.

    • Pepper said

      Oh we do get stuff from the Farmers Market as much as we can too. But it’s hard. The farmers market here, like in most places in held on the weekend, and goes on from 9 AM TO 1 PM. A lot of Sundays, we’re not free at that time. On some Sundays, we wake up really late and then it’s too late to go 😐 I think I should put in more effort and make it to the market in time.

      • A-kay said

        Even if you can get to the farmer’s market, try the local produce shops. Agreed not all will be organic but at least it will be locally grown and the food miles (yes, there is such a term if you haven’t heard that before) will be less – you will be saving the environment 🙂 They are open regular hours, for folks like you and me who need our sleep :), on all days till atleast 7 or 8 in the evening.

        • Pepper said

          Local produce shops? I don’t think I know any of those around here. Most people I know either shop at the supermarkets or at the Farmers Market. Let me ask around. Thanks! 🙂

          • A-kay said

            I live in the Bay Area too and know of a few. I don’t know which part of Bay Area you live in; so shoot me a mail in case you are interested and I can give you some details. Cheers!

            • Pepper said

              I live in the East Bay. Let me send you an email. Even if the places you know are in the South Bay, I might be able to go there if they don’t shut before 8 pm like you say 🙂

  2. binpin said

    I loved this post and you know why:)

  3. KB said

    Hey, I totally agree with you… I dont feel like going into the kitchen, forget about cooking when I am alone at home.. I normally cook extra the previous night so that I can re-heat it in the afternoon.. Getting out of this habit requires one hell of motivation.. If you are able to find ways, please let me know.. 🙂

    • Pepper said

      I try to cook extra the previous night too, but more often than not my judgement sucks. If I am able to keep up with my goals, I will let you know how I did it. 🙂

  4. R's Mom said

    arey toh Pepper, cook extra in the night and eat that in the morning na…even salad and all that can be stored in an air tight container and kept in the fridge

    But dont do away with rotis completely or infact even rice….eat it once in a day….and rice perhaps twice a week…they are good for health also….RD’s trainer (under whom he trained for the marathon) always stresses on the importance of carbs in the diet. you can perhaps opt for brown rice if you dont want white rice…

    Also, I wanted to always know what is Mac and Cheese??

    • Pepper said

      I do cook extra in the night, but somehow my judgment isn’t right. It either gets over or if it’s there I don’t feel like eating a full meal. Anyway, working on it now. Yes carbs are important in any diet. I think I prefer other sources rather than rice and rotis. Having it sometimes is fine of course.

      Mac and Cheese is basically cooked Macaroni in a cheesy sauce. A lot of brands manufacture it, but Kraft is my favourite. I love it, but considering how unhealthy it is, I should stay away from it.

  5. ajay said

    Eating alone is like travelling alone – boring and makes you feel forlorn. That said, you must not skip eating. 😀

  6. shaktii said

    Hi Pepper,

    i can understand when you say you hate lonely meals.. sit and eat a quiet lunch.. been there done that.. as i also associate food with good company..i felt very bad when i was left with that option.. and later when i had my baby its even worse.. cant eat fully.. so used to split bcos i need to give attention to her all the time.. it became a reverse situation.. one of my friend used to say switch on the TV so that you wont feel the emptiness…maybe it helps..its ok since i ve taken breaks few times only otherwise working (obviously you have company) most of the days.. but i ve seen some people doing it every other day and its sad sometimes..

  7. Deboshree said

    Yes, do it Pepper! All the best with the new resolution. 🙂

  8. Comfy said

    I used to be the same way. Would not eat when I was myself. What worked for me was
    1. I stopped getting things like Maggi at home. They are not healthy but are so easy to make that they are too tempting.
    2. I would get my lunch ready before D left for work and even show him that this was all I would eat through out the day.

    It was easier for me to eat if the food was ready, fruits and salad cut. Plus the idea that D could check once he came home made me finish it all.

    To start with, I also would eat while I did something else. That way I was not sitting on the table all by myself and eating. That helped big time.

    All the best. I am sure you will do well this time around. 🙂

    • Pepper said

      It makes most sense to stop buying Maggi. But getting lunch ready by 7:30 am before Mint leaves is, um, impossible for me. I barely manage to wake up by then.
      Yes, eating while doing something else would help a lot too. Thank you! I like how confident you are 🙂

  9. Nisha said

    well.. as long as eating goes.. i would recommend you to grab this book “Dont lose your mind, lose your weight”..its all about eating right by,hold your breath, kareena kapoor’s dietician!!!
    everything aside..it does inspire you to eat right to stay fit.

    • Pepper said

      Anything that has the words “Lose weight” makes me stay miles away from it. I have no intention of losing the little weight I have 😀 But if its about eating right and staying fit, then I should probably get it.

  10. Sam said

    Our foods are a dose of poisons and thats why you see people falling ill and having no strength to perform routine tasks.
    Suppose if we do want a healthy diet and have fruits – they are packed with insecticides. And a papaya might no longer have its Vitamin E – it would have already been extracted from the fruit for medicinal purpose. No use having walnuts either.

  11. Ashwathy said

    I agree with you. We live in a very toxic environment. We breathe highly polluted air. We have terrible sleep patterns and take in a lot of stress. We consume a lot of products which are likely to later give us medical issues.

    Wish I could chuck it all up and go live in a farm with organic vegetables. I mean really!! 😐

    For one, we ate a lot of ‘chapatis’. We ate those with a good quantity of veggies and curries, but I wanted to do away with the daily consumption of rotis.
    Erm… Having rotis (without ghee, oil etc.) is really that bad?
    We shifted from rice to rotis…and more veggies than non-veg…plus majority home made food. So that’s quite a decent transition. And here you tell me that’s nothing 🙄 😦

    I’ve had grave fights with Mint because of this very attitude of mine. He says he feels most helpless when I don’t eat right and he isn’t around to make sure I do.
    I understand his frustration. I’ve had similar issues with my own partner. In our case, he’s the one who eats whatever he gets, if I am not around. Try to make things a little easier for Mint…there’s only so much he can keep telling you to do….you have to take the initiative yourself.

  12. Bikram said

    this is because of the american culture of CLAIMS.. so they have ot put all these notices for their safety, in uk too this culture is catching up , any little thing people are running to make a claim.

    well why dont you go to mint 🙂 in lunch that way it will take you out of the house and you two can have lunch together too 🙂 a bit of fresh air for you what say …

    All the best with the resolution … take care

    • Pepper said

      I would have done that, but Mint’s office isn’t anywhere close to home. I would have to travel for more than 1 hour, one way. So it doesn’t seem worth it to me 🙂 Thanks!

  13. Nitya said

    Yep. Just like the warning in bold, no less, on ciggie packs. Its there for the world to see but at the end of the day, the smoker still does what he has to do.
    Have you seen the documentary “Food, Inc”? It changed the way I looked at food or thought about it. The amount of crap that goes in the name of food is scary.
    Eating healthy is a resolution for me as well, I am also reading up on this gluten free way and it sounds good. Moderation might have been the key in earlier times. But with the kind of processing any food goes through today, even eating a piece of it has long lasting effects. So it has to be a complete ban.

    Tough times man 😐

    • Pepper said

      You are the second person recommending Food, Inc in this comment space. I should definitely watch it. Yes, the amount of processing the food undergoes is what kills all the nutrients, and in fact makes it hazardous. Tough times indeed. Don’t know where we’re really supposed to go.

  14. Gayatri said

    I buy organic on and off but it really eats into my grocery budget. We’ve recently stopped eating canned beans, veggies etc. I do the best I can, given the circumstances. But even then, I know I’m consuming a truckload of things I shouldn’t be.

    Oh Pepper, if you need tips on how to cope with lonely lunches, please email me. I’ve been doing it for two years now. And I’ve even mastered the art of cooking for 1 😦

  15. Shruti said

    I too am guilty of not eating properly, and not just for lunch, but even dinners some time end up being Maggi *hangs head in shame*….Mostly how I justify it – it is so late by the time both M & I reach home, and we are so tired, that we just want to kick our shoes, eat something quick (=maggi) and just go to bed! But if you really want to dig deeper, these are just excuses and we are just both very lazy! Lately, we’ve been trying to at least eat frozen parathas (not too healthy, yet a notch better than maggi I suppose), salads, quick sandwiches (the kanda, tomato, chutney ones), so that we don’t end up with just unhealthy food…but it’s still not as improved as it ideally should be!

    Maybe you should consider doing a series of posts about how you are moving towards a more healthy diet, to motivate yourself to eat healthier (NOT AT ALL my place to give you any kind of advice when I can’t do it myself, but I am shameless like that :P)

    • Pepper said

      That’s another thing. Now I am home so I keep dinner ready. If we’re both working, I don’t know if we would have the enthu to come back and cook! So I totally understand. Having said that, it’s really important that we eat right. So do try and stay away from Maggi as much as you can. Yes, I am saying that 😛
      Yes I might write all that if I really do seem some progress and change in myself.

  16. That notice – yes, we royally ignore it, don’t we? 🙂

    People haven’t stopped smoking even if they see “You will cough away and DIE” notice on the box. Sad, but true.

    Considering the fact that we are living in a toxic world, we can only make a genuine effort to eat right. To grow our own produce and milk our own cow would make it all pure and organic, but not really feasible, is it?

    I have reluctantly accepted the fact.

    About the eating alone problem – Some days when I have to do that, I switch on to watch my favorite sitcoms ( on DVD mostly), and have laughter for company. FRIENDS is one good recommendation for alone eating time.

  17. WOW – that is a scary notice! Recently I read that milk in India is mixed with detergent and what not. The milk we all consume everyday! 😦 Some of these statistics really scare me but at the end of the day, we do what we have to. I don’t know what it is that we should do to keep safe.

    On the healthy eating part – I started off with eating a healthy breakfast. Before this, I would not even wake up and G would fix himself something and go to office. I would then wake up, sometimes skip bfast because it was too late and then make some Maggi/pasta for lunch (incase he wasn’t coming for lunch) and then eat some junk midway.

    For the last couple of years, I have made it a point to wake up everyday at the same time (7am) excluding weekends (8-9am) and make breakfast. Nothing elaborate but even making my oatmeal with fruits or peanut-butter sandwich (on whole wheat bread) or omelettes or cereal, I make it a point to do it and eat it on time. We’re both full until he comes for lunch.

    Maggi is the first thing that I stopped turning to when I was alone. I make it very rarely now. So also pasta. I did not like the whole wheat pasta at all. So went back to regular pasta but that is a rarity too. I push myself to eat something else instead of these two.

    I, however, want to reduce our intake of rice somehow. but I can’t live without rice 😦 😦

    I hope you’re following Sig on her IQS quest 🙂 I am guilty of saying “I don’t eat too much sugar” when it came to talks about pastries, chocolate etc but I think we’re putting sugar in some form or the other anyway. For ex: although we drink non-fat skim milk, it has nothing but sugar! So THAT is going to be something I have to try and see if we can eat lesser sugar.

    The whole thing comes from pushing yourself to do it and it’s bloody hard if you’re alone!

    But you’re already doing it right – with eating a lot of fresh salads and vegetables 🙂 That is the first step and you’re already on it 🙂

    • Why do I write short stories every time I comment? 😛

      • Pepper said

        I have to wake up before Mint leaves cos I go to drop him to the station. So although I crib, its an advantage in a way. I should make use of it and eat a healthy breakfast.
        And yes! When I said we don’t consume too much of sugar, I was only talking about sugar in its original form. I should have probably said we don’t consume too much of sweet stuff. I know we don’t really avoid sugar, because its present in so many thing that we binge on.

        You write short stories because you know I love them 😀

  18. I agree on the Food, Inc bit. A must watch. Two other books of Micheal Pollan – An Omnivore’s Dilemma and Food Rules – are quite popular if we need to get to the depth of what we eat in the name of food.

  19. saisanty said

    Nice post!! Its most to do with how well your body reacts and responses! I love my body for that reason. The moment I keep up my diet I feel fresh and start loosing weight instantly!! You are right. Must keep track of what goes in and what work we give to our body!!

    Its like throwing in the whole shit and asking it to process. Its like any machine that man has invented. It also has its own wear and tear and requires a lots of maintenance. Oil, ghee, butter, cheese, basically all milk and milk products and maida are all harmful. We know that oil and water does not go well but still we eat oily foods and drink water.

    Cant imagine whats happening inside. Must swallow a camera one day to see through!! Good post again, thought provoking!!

    Do check in http://www.loudthinkers.net when you find time. Started writing along with buddies and your suggestions / inputs are most welcome!! Would be happy to see you there!

    • Pepper said

      Oh hey, I wouldn’t say all kinds of fats are harmful actually. Sometimes cheese and butter are beneficial from what I know.
      Will try and check it out soon 🙂

  20. Umm, I am with you on the not eating well when alone part too Pepper.
    I have had some pretty bad fights with the husband on this. And this is what we’ve come to do for a while now, we cook together before he leaves for work. This ensures there’s lunch that I’m pretty much forced to eat because its available. Does that help? I think it does,granted I don’t eat as much as I would if I had company but atleast I eat something other than Maggi(which is like my staple or go-to food on most days).
    But,wait I read somewhere in your comments that Mint leaves by 7:30 ? :O :O That’s hard 😦

    Like most people here seem to have recommended, I’d suggest you make a couple of dishes at night( I know, that by itself is a lot-for two people) but still. Cook when the two of you together at home, so that there is some enthusiasm to do it. Whatever works yaar,but eat.. please don’t skip. I speak from experience. I have a very bad case of acidity hitting me everytime I skip and I still don’t seem to learn 😐

    • Pepper said

      You are right Enthu. I hardly know anybody who eats as much rubbish as I do. Sometimes my meal is nothing more than a pack of chips. It’s worse than even Maggi. I do try to cook at night, but even that doesn’t always work. I don’t want to fall ill really, so I am trying to better my food habits. I hope you do too.

  21. Never noticed those signs before..wonder if it is a Cali only thing…I totally understand hating eating alone..I hate it too but in my case it is sometimes lighter and healthier:)
    I actually come home for lunch as my office is like 5 minutes away and on some days when the Husbadoo has to only show up at work after lunch we end up having lunch together.Though I love these lunch meetings with him, I noticed that I tend to overeat on those days!
    The days I eat lunch alone at home, it is just a quick reheat,eat with tv on, wash up, leave.No second helpings, no after lunch dessert of candy, no side of chips etc…

    • Pepper said

      As long as you are eating a decent meal when alone, it’s all good. I tend to under eat if I am eating by myself, and eating normally if I have company. Looks like you stay away from the junk when you eat by yourself, and that’s a good thing!

  22. Sig said

    Whenever Evs is not here, I lose all motivation to cook and eat healthy. However, it’s actually become so much part of my habits that it isn’t as hard as you think! (haha i could go on about this topic!)

    * Few tips – prepare your food on a Sunday after you have done the shopping i.e. chop veggies, cook some meals for easy eating later in the week.
    * Make simple switches – brown rice instead of white, aim to have 1/2 plate of veggies, reduce amount of sugar (this is a HUGE one – you’ll be surprised how much better you feel if you just start to rid your diet of sugar) etc
    * Drink lots of WATER!!!
    * Try to have a source of protein at every meal e.g. handful of almonds + fruit for snack, or daal and roti for dinner, eggs/toast, tofu in a salad etc – it’ll keep you fuller
    * Eat every 2-3 hours – something small if you don’t feel like a huge meal e.g. cheese or ricecakes/chopped veggies and hommus, popcorn! Fruit (but not more than 1-2 pieces a day)
    * And darling, never skip meals – make sure you have breakfast – eg. toast/eggs or oatmeal – it’ll fill you up and kick-start your metabolism.

    As for eating alone – most of our lunches are leftovers from the night before. Otherwise simple stuff like a wrap with veggies in it, or salads, brown rice/w can of tuna etc, sushi!

    The best thing is that you’re already onto it! The easiest way to think about it is one choice at a time, take it slow – every choice you make towards your health will be one step closer to feeling great!

    Another few books to read – In defense of food – Michael Pollan, Sweet Poison – David Gillespi. Total eye-openers.

    • Pepper said

      Thanks so much for the tips Sig. I realise I don’t follow most of them only because I am too lazy. Too lazy even to make a simple sandwich for myself. I just cannot justify such behaviour of mine and I know I simply have to change. Thanks a lot for the tips and recommendations. You are my inspiration.

  23. Childwoman said

    Try reading while eating. When my mother was in hospital, sedated for her cancer treatments, she used to be sleeping for hours. Thats what I used to do. Reading while eating my meals.

    • Pepper said

      Oh CW. Each time I see a comment from you, I realise how brave you are. I feel utterly stupid for feeling lonely during meals now. I can imagine how you must have felt in that kind of a situation. And if you could work out a way, I definitely have no excuse to not do it. Thanks 🙂

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