What came to mind on a cloudy Tuesday morning was something I read once before, a saying of Mark Twain’s which states, “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”.
Now, here I was wondering if that made any sense or whether he was absolutely right as I sat awaiting a topic on health to be presented. The International Women’s Association’s meeting in June was about to begin with Ms. Geeta Seth speaking on ‘Nutrition the Gateway to a Healthy Living’.
Call of a Siren
Back to the cosy confines of Ms. Jaya’s living room where this month’s meeting was held, I thought about how much I hate milk, green peas, and kidney beans when I was handed a print out that stated how beneficial they could be to an individual in terms of health. Following such diet regimes can prove difficult to some or easy to others leading basically to what health issues is one trying to address and how much disciplined will does one possess.
It the midst of my thoughts on how easily I yield to temptation when scrumptious food is in question, I wondered if I could resist enticement by describing my double meat double cheese Italian B.M.T as insipid? While optimistically answering that question with a strong yes and grinning like Lewis Carroll’s Cheshire cat at the possibilities of my will power, my reverie was soon broken!
Temptation, leaning on the doorbell with talk of mouth-watering cheese cakes found at Taman Anggerik Mall came in the form of Ms. Sanam, describing how rich, moist and luscious they were. It sounded so ambrosial, I wanted one immediately! My fanciful musing of will power soon turned into a brusque daydream, a cloud of determination defiled not by common denial yet simply evaporating into vapours of mere wishful thinking! You see, Ms. Sanam sat next to me once again to make sure I did not encounter an encore of ‘Lost in Translation’.
As Seth was having her audience eating out of her hand with a recipe for home made health oil, I was getting confused between the Hindi word ’til’ for sesame seed and the English word ‘dill’, a herb I often use in cooking. While on the verge of being flummoxed, Sanam and I had to save a damsel in distress. My partner in crime this time round, Ms. Cosmo (remember the hungry one?) has already seen and smelt the sights of Sunter for the past hour with a cabbie that was refusing to stop and ask for directions. Being a freshie in Jakarta and a complete virgin to the North, she was lost! It’s funny how the tables turned from just 4 weeks ago! Ms. Cosmo was now ‘Lost in Sunter’!
Directions from me would be like the blind leading the blind. Hence Sanam took over the reins and tried directing the driver to find him ten minutes later nowhere to be seen. Jaya followed on the task of this stubborn lad to no avail until her personal chauffer had to instruct him about three times before setting him on the right path. Some forty minutes later, after the whole pass-the-phone game, Ms. Cosmo arrived! Now safe and sound, we continued back into the secrets of staying bright, healthy and frisky!
As Seth discussed issues on hair care, preventing osteoporosis, lowering cholesterol, dealing with rheumatism and managing diabetics, I was particularly fond of the section on energy boosting food. Let’s talk Chocolate! Chocolate is known to elevate energy levels through its bioactive compounds such as tyramine and phenyl ethylamine. I am not about to elaborate on these chemical names, but those who are interested can spare some time on research to learn more.
Seth goes to state that chocolate has known to improve anaemia, awaken the appetite, aid in digestion, improve longevity and increase sexual appetite. Chocolate contains sugar and caffeine along with fat and calories; hence consumption in moderation is key.
It is suggested to opt for dark chocolate with 65 percent or higher cocoa content instead of milk chocolate or white chocolate for it has fewer calories and more antioxidant values. Dark chocolate contains a large number of antioxidants (nearly eight times the number found in strawberries). Antioxidants are important soldiers in the war our body constantly wages against free radicals, which can cause all sorts of cellular damage. More generally, antioxidants are essential to how the body detoxifies itself. Dark chocolate is packed with antioxidants called bioflavonoids and that’s great news!
While dark chocolate is clearly a superstar when it comes to antioxidants, experts recommend that you get your antioxidants from a variety of sources, not just chocolate. Different phytochemicals are present in different amounts in various foods, and getting a nice mix of these nutrients from a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables is the best way to give one’s body the ammo it needs to keep diseases at bay.
Before you go running with glee through the candy aisle, a tip I learnt from mummy dearest was one should look for pure dark chocolate or dark chocolate with nuts, orange peel or other flavourings. Avoid anything with caramel, nougat or other fillings. These fillings are just adding sugar and fat which erase many of the benefits you get from eating chocolate.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Some say that we are what we eat, however we are much more than what we eat, albeit what we eat can nevertheless help us to be much more than what we are. Though some may beg to differ, there are four important things in life… love, health, security … and errm… remembering to buy chocolate!
Voice of Reason
As a Dietician and Nutritionist originating from Indore, Seth now residing in Jakarta is a gold medallist nutritional science post graduate degree holder with many years of experience both abroad and within India. Seth has also worked under Dr. Sunil M. Jain of Totall Diabetes Hormone Institute based in India for several years while co-authoring a book for American based company Medtronic on Diabetes & Insulin Pumps.
In addition, Seth has also travel to Nepal and Sri Lanka to work alongside head chefs in creating menus which cater to specific dietary needs. Seth currently does not have a formal practice set up as she has only just arrived in Jakarta two months ago. The session ‘Nutrition the Gateway to a Healthy Living’ was addressed in a general manner, however those who need guidelines which are tailored to one’s respective health needs, may contact Ms. Geeta Seth for your personalised consultation at 085814060966 or [email protected]
The writer is an aerospace and defence journalist. She is currently based in Jakarta as a freelance writer and can be reached at [email protected]