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The other day, my 11 year old and I were having a conversation about what influences our physiques - whether it is pure genetics or is there something else to it? Why do members of a family end up looking more like each other? Cute little babies turn into obese adolescents- just like the adults in the family.We all start with the same set of brand new organs but ultimately we turn out the way we do because of the way we look after our bodies.
Genetics does play a very important role in deciding your body structure, colour of eyes, hair texture etc,but its not something you can control . Apart from stress which has become a ubiquitous reason for anything and everything thats going wrong in our lives, two key factors influencing our bodies are Exercise and Nutrition.
Nutrition literally means providing or obtaining food necessary for health and growth.
The unborn baby receives its nutrition through the umbilical cord. Whatever the mother eats, it travels to the baby to nourish it. A healthy weight at birth is one of the best starts that any baby can get.
After birth the mother's milk serves as the sole food that the baby can survive on for at least a couple of months. Babies almost double up their body weight on this mixture of carbohydrates, fats, protein, enzymes and water.
Soon breastfeeding alone is not sufficient for the baby and top feed comes into the picture. Nutrition in the formative years goes a long way in influencing a child's growth, immunity and intelligence. Its been proven that of the two same sex siblings, the one with better food habits gains more height.
All mothers have been guilty of feeding more of what the child prefers to eat. All families have their own favourite foods that are cooked more often and thus they 'shape' them up.
Unknowingly some food groups do not get enough representation in the daily home cooked food. And thus nutritional deficiencies creep in.
It us ironical that in these times of surplus food production and availability, our children suffer from nutritional deficiency diseases. Majority of Indian children are anaemic. Low immunity due to lack of vitamins has led to an epidemic of allergies and food intolerances.
So our kitchens are full of packaged foods of all sorts. The average time a woman spends in the kitchen is going down but richness of the food that she cooks is going up.
We go 'Out' to eat more often. And when we don't feel like going out, we order 'In'. Excess of anything becomes poison.The high amounts of sugar, salt and trans fats in the 'Fast' foods is making us 'Slow' and 'Bloated'.
Hormones and chemicals in the food are playing havoc leading to precocious puberty, PCOD and early menopause. Thus women today are heavier than what their mothers weighed at their age.
We have moved our attention away from the nourishment that food must provide. Gone is the wisdom of our ancestors and the custom of eating in accordance with the seasons. Our age old recipes are being replaced with fancy oils and exotic foods. How many of our kids would relish Bajre ki Khichdi over an extra Cheesy Pizza?
Nourishment has been replaced with abuse. And it is showing on our bodies.
Two to three generations ago our ancestors were getting more exercise than most of us and our parents. Most of it was by default because life was tough and one had to sweat it out. Whether it was working in the fields and growing their own food to literally walking/cycling to schools or work, washing , cleaning etc.
Soon urbanisation brought in new concepts and a sense of lifestyle and luxuries. It became fashionable to keep domestic help and our changing food habits didnot not helping either. And now we have quite a large number of metabolic disorder patients, heart attacks etc.
Exercising has thankfully taken off for us Indians now! Thanks to Filmstars flaunting six packs! And to Ed Sheeran for belting out Shape of you and bringing the attention back to our bodies! From bored housewives to young teenagers to middle aged men, more people are hitting the gym, yoga classes and training run marathons.
Some want to lose weight, some want to tone up while others want good health. We want to wear the latest international fashion trends and look good too. We are also scared because we want to enjoy all the global delicacies and and at the same time try and tame our Indian genes through exercise!