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Your Grandma Is Right : Of Fat And Diet Fads

Posted: July 3, 2014

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Should we trust diet fads that change every other day? Should we really stay away from fats? This post (and your grandma) has the answers!

“Eat Butter” proclaimed the cover page of TIME  magazine in strident tones, calling time (pun intended) on the dietary war that has been raging for a few decades now and simply but effectively, bringing a topic that has been discussed by maverick fitness groups to mainstream media .

This is truly a momentous event as, for more than 30 years, the general public has been repeatedly fed various misguided and, in some cases, downright harmful dietary advice. A bold about-face, in such a prominent publication, no less, is what is needed to reboot a generation worth of bad eating practices and beliefs.

A majority of the mealtimes from my childhood were conducted with the soundtrack of my granny or my great aunt urging me to eat ghee. “Nei nethra vaayu” is something the latter used to intone in her no-nonsense tones every day, when I said No to adding ghee to my rice. Granted, a truckload of rice with a few ladles of vegetables did me no good but neither did sanctimoniously rejecting the goodness of ghee at every step. In my defence, I was young and stupid. Then I grew up, read up about Weight Watchers and Slimming World and other similar diets, and learnt to say No to every tasty food item there was.

Then I grew up, read up about Weight Watchers and Slimming World and other similar diets, and learnt to say No to every tasty food item there was.

And I know I am not alone in this. How many of us have rejected the age-old advice given to us by our grandmothers and great-grandmothers, waving instead the latest article in the magazines as proof positive that the simple wisdom that has sustained us over the years is wrong because a study funded by a  multi-million dollar processed food company said so?

How many of us have tried unsuccessfully to shift stubborn pounds by starving ourselves, on the back of questionable dietary diktats, caught in an endless spiral of “lose 2 kilos – gain 4 back”?

Gospel truth or diet fad?

While it is excellent that TIME magazine has lifted the ban on butter, what this means for all of us that have been raising ourselves on contrary diet advice and fad diets – is to admit we know zilch. What about all the other nonsense that have been drip-fed over the years that we have taken as gospel? How many dieticians / nutritionists / shamans have been consulted in this time that have steered us away from other supposedly evil foods that may well turn out to be “super foods” soon? Today, we are urged to eat butter; what will tomorrow bring?

More importantly, why should we take their words as truth?

How about eggs? Eggs have been on the receiving end of some wholesale criticism over the years, especially the yolk. In ‘dieting’ circles in fact, egg white omelettes come with a shiny halo attached! Treated like cholesterol bombs, egg yolks are generally thrown away, in an attempt to eat healthily, and what a shame that is!

As a matter of fact, these golden nuggets are chock full of good fats, vitamins, and can amp up your good cholesterol levels. Eggs are the perfect protein foods and every one of us must eat one or two regularly.

Another sorry casualty of our uninformed war against “bad” fats is coconut oil. It is nothing but a crying shame that Keralites, who for generations have used this oil to cook and nourish their bodies, are now shunning it – all in the name of health. I have lost count of the number of times I have heard Mallu friends confess that they now cook with “rice bran” (substitute the latest ‘brand’ oil available in the market) as their cousin’s nutritionist has told them to stay away from coconut oil.

Ayurveda has made extensive use of coconut oil, purely because of its health benefits. It is a treasure trove of good fats, minerals, triglycerides, poly unsaturated fatty acids, mono unsaturated fatty acids and much, much more. Instead of trusting our ancient food wisdom, we fell pray to the propaganda of the palm oil industry. What a pity!

Generations of our ancestors have managed to lead healthy lives before Cornflakes and Cookie Crunch started their rule over our breakfast table…

Generations of our ancestors have managed to lead healthy lives before Cornflakes and Cookie Crunch started their rule over our breakfast table, and it is time we accepted and realised the significance of that. Our centuries old food traditions have been built over time, taking into account the local climatic conditions, an individual’s dietary requirements and our genetic makeup. So let’s pay heed to that.

To put simply, embrace the food your grandmother is familiar with – that is what you are genetically engineered for. Ditch tat, eat real, wholesome food.

And eat that ghee.

Recipe:  Coconut flavoured red pumpkin

This is my go-to recipe for a flavoursome lunch option. I normally scramble three eggs in ghee and eat that with this yummy curry and chase it all down with a tall glass of buttermilk. Now THAT merits a halo!


Cubed red pumpkin, 250 gms

Coconut milk, 100 ml

Coconut oil, 1 tsp

Mustard seeds, urad dal 1 tsp each

Slit green chilli, 1

Asafoetida, a pinch

Sprig of curry leaf

Salt, to taste


  1. In a heavy-bottomed kadai, warm the coconut oil. Add the mustard and urad dal and let it splutter. Add the chilli and saute nicely. Toss in the curry leaves and asafoetida and let it all brown.
  2. Gently add the cubed pumpkin to the kadai. Cook it over a medium flame, taking care while mixing it so you don’t break the pumpkin.
  3. The sugar in the pumpkin will caramelize beautifully, causing it to develop a golden crust. Slowly add the coconut milk and saute well till it gets absorbed.
  4. Check the pumpkin for done-ness. You want it to retain its shape so take care it doesn’t turn mushy.
  5. Add salt to taste and eat when it is hot.


Pic credit: Krawcowicz (Used under a CC license)




Mother, writer, foodie, margarita lover, Lavanya is the exception to the rule that women are

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