BY SHARMILA RIBEIRO
Years ago, before I embarked on my journey of healthy cooking and eating, I regularly bought all kinds of processed and packaged foods for my family. We stocked biscuits of all kinds – chocolate, cream, salty, sweet and salty, glucose etc. plus ready to eat Indian fried snacks such as murukkus and mixtures, plus readymade cold drinks, plus sweets and candies, plus chocolate coated breakfast cereal, plus peanut butter, jams, mayo and other spreads, plus cold meats like sausages. I bought all these indulgently and with love.
We all do this – its all so convenient, so easy to buy or order online and not too expensive either. And that’s the benefit as well as the cost! Most processed food that is commercially and/or mass produced comes at a relatively cheap price (cheaper than what we can make at home sometimes) but it also comes at the cost of our health. Most of the ingredients used are cheap, not nutritious and often even dangerous to our health. How would you know? Start by reading the food labels.
Manufacturers have made it such that food labels are not the easiest things to either notice or to read. But if you want to eat healthy and start cutting the junk/processed food in your diet, reading the nutrition labels is one of the first steps you need to take. Unhealthy food (or junk food) is usually defined as food that is high in sugar, fat, salt and refined carbs. Packaged processed food is usually labeled, but most of our much loved Indian sweets and snacks (which also qualify as junk) are usually not labeled.