Why is rice the devil in the Indian diet story?
TBC finds out why rice, traditional food is considered to be a weight gainerImage: The Bridge Chronicle

Why is rice the devil in the Indian diet story?

While most countries enjoy rice as a staple food

Rice has long been the devil in the diet story. Weight-watchers, conscious eaters often first compromise on rice when trying to lose weight. Many dietitians also suggest cutting down on rice when tailoring meals. But rice is one of the most widely available food grain that is both cost-effective and easy to prepare. It is also very versatile. So does the infamous grain deserve to be tainted in this light?

Take Japan as an example — their staple food includes rice and noodles. Italy eats pasta. And the Middle East consumes rice majorly. Not just that! According to National Geographic, rice is part of a staple diet of more than 3.5 billion people. Countries such as Asia, Latin America, and some regions in Africa cultivate and consume rice for thousands of years. Also, people from coastal areas produce and consume rice widely.

All of this without putting on weight!

Yet, in India, rice is considered to be a weight gainer. Being one of the largest producers of rice, it is surprising how much we avoid rice. The Bridge Chronicle asked nutritionist and dietician Bhairavi Pandit the reason behind this.

Q

What should an ideal meal (lunch or dinner) contain?

A

Most of us eat a combination of dal, rice and flatbread made from wheat flour, along with a seasonal vegetable since our childhood days. Perhaps our parents have also have had the same routine. So it would be safe to state that dal, rice, roti and said is a staple to us. That is the ideal meal. But this was true before. We live a faster life compared to our parents and their parents too.

And with the pace, our meals have now cut short. So it is either roti-sabji combination or dal chawal pairing. We also opt for restaurant take away instead of cook at home meals, and though that is convenient, it is far from healthy. As a result, we tend to blame whatever (in this case, rice) the media feeds us.

But, our traditional meals had a perfect balance of carbohydrates, fats and proteins. The physical activity took care of the extra nutrients. Some examples would be climbing staircases, walking to the market or running errands. Also, offices had fixed timings, against the present conditions of sitting and working late, so meals would be home-cooked and consumed at fixed and healthy hours. But now, late meals are a regular affair. Lifestyle changes are contributing factors for weight gain.

Of course, we don’t consider so many things when we conclude weight gain. We blame it on the easy food that we have been eating regularly and traditionally.

TBC finds out why rice, traditional food is considered to be a weight gainer
TBC finds out why rice, traditional food is considered to be a weight gainer Image: The Bridge Chronicle
Q

How many carbs should we consume in a day?

A

Different individuals have different requirements where nutrients like carbohydrates, proteins and fats are concerned. Nutrition experts recommend nearly 282 grams of carbohydrates daily. But the consumption is more than that due to the lack of availability and not making/knowing the right choice of foods.

That brings me to a staple that many states in India live on — Rice. You will find that rice grows in many parts of our country and there are many different varieties of rice too. To share with you some nutritional info on rice, it belongs to the category of cereals. Cereals are the staple food in our country. Be it wheat or rice or millets.

Q

How are the carbs in wheat different from rice?

A

Rice has 23 grams of carbohydrates, and wheat flour has 22 grams. But, the fibre content of rice is much lesser than that of wheat. This content of fibre makes rice quicker to digest, while wheat flour takes longer. When considering weight loss, the longer the food takes for digestion, the better it is to avoid hunger pangs.

TBC finds out why rice, traditional food is considered to be a weight gainer
TBC finds out why rice, traditional food is considered to be a weight gainerImage: The Bridge Chronicle
Q

Some people prefer to consume rice over chapati, so what forms of rice are healthy?

A

Depending on your preference, it is essential to consider the pros and cons. It is also necessary to check the fibre content. In fibre, chapatti scores over rice as the preferred rice is usually polished or processed. Also, unless one sieves the flour while making roti, where the husk/bran gets removed from the flour, roti has higher fibre content.

Whole grain brown, red, black rice that has its fibre and nutrient components intact. This rice is healthy, but it requires more cooking time. Locally available rice is also a good option. The short-grain rice is mostly available regionally, can be considered. Milled rice — One should avoid Basmati. Choosing certain rice varieties over others can be a simple way to improve your diet.

Whole-grain rice varieties contain the bran and germ, providing more specific nutrients like fibre, protein, antioxidants, and certain vitamins and minerals. Making a point to choose rice that’s higher in protein, fibre, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants over refined products is smart and easy to boost health.

Q

Is it true, does rice lead to weight gain?

A

Eating a larger portion of rice just before bedtime would help in gaining weight. It is thus advisable to eat dinner two hours before bedtime.

TBC finds out why rice, traditional food is considered to be a weight gainer
TBC finds out why rice, traditional food is considered to be a weight gainerImage: The Bridge Chronicle
Q

What should an ideal meal (lunch or dinner) contain?

A

Excess of anything is detrimental. So also is the case with food. Our food choices should be such that we make an all-round choice. Dal and rice together give us proteins, fibre and carbohydrates. Rotis and veggies are rich sources of vitamins and minerals. Additionally, the oils and ghee used acts as the source of fat. Salads have fibres, vitamins and minerals.

Buttermilk is also a source of proteins, vitamins and minerals.

If we make the right food choice, we are less likely to gain weight. Wrong selection of foods, irregular meal timings and sedentary habits are reasons for weight gain. Also, lifestyle selection join hands in gaining weight. It is not right to blame just one single factor when it comes to weight gain.

Q

Some countries do not eat chapati but eat other foods like pasta, bread, rice, noodles etc. Does that also contribute to weight gain? If not, how?

A

Pasta, bread, noodles all will contribute to weight gain if eaten in excess. Moderation is the key to everything. Choose red sauce over white in the case of pasta. Add a lot of fibre and colours in the form of vegetables. Add proteins in the form of legumes which is also high in fibre.

Avoid cheese and go for nutritional yeast to get the flavours.

When we choose bread/rice/noodles, follow the suggestions.

Eat small portions and go for these foods only one time a day.

Now that you know, its for you to decide whether rice is good or bad.

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