The Week, December 2010
Platter of fact

I am happy and proud that the US President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, visited India, and that the visit was fruitful and successful. I am sure that India and the US will work collectively towards creating a brilliant, peaceful and harmonious atmosphere, especially for our younger generation.

My first foreign tour was to the US way back in 1963. I remember that, back then, there were only a few Indian restaurants, and pizza from Italy was becoming popular among Asians. Now it has become popular all over the world. The western world gradually patronised the concept of fast food brands like McDonald's, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Kentucky Chicken and, of course, Subway. Such items came to be addressed as junk food. All these brands have come to our country, too. Parents all over the world have always talked about junk food but could not help the situation. The results are frightening.

Obesity has become one of the most common problems all over the world, especially in the US. This leads to subsequent problems such as depression and anxiety. Failure to eat healthy food that lightens the mind leads to stress and health complications at a very young age. It becomes even more critical today when people are mostly on the go. They fail to eat home-cooked and healthy meals. During the short ten-minute break they get, they are compelled to eat junk food to satiate their hunger.

I am well aware about the concern Obama has for health care. I think the US and the rest of the world should seriously think about how we can save children from the consequences of gorging on junk food. I strongly feel that our country should also come forward and actively participate in a campaign of this kind.

As a child, like most Indians at that time, I enjoyed having pure milk products such as rabri, malai and pure ghee. I remember my mother making ghee out of malai (collected from boiled milk every day), especially while having rice with arhar dal. Two spoons of malai ghee would create magic! Now, of course, I stick to a low-carbohydrate diet as per my sons' suggestions.

In olden days, our wrestlers always had lots of almonds and large quantities of pure milk after their workouts. Our ancestors ate all kinds of rich food and also lived long. My guru and father, Haafiz Ali Khan Saheb, died at age 95 in 1972. Gradually, I adopted a way of life where I eat just to live. Fortunately, I am not a slave to my cravings. I enjoy all kinds of food from all over the world including occasional junk food. But I always try to ensure that, overall, my diet is balanced.

As a nation, we must encourage an awareness of healthy eating among our youngsters. We must teach them that eating is not bad and that we can eat as much healthy food as we like. However, an abundance of junk food and high-stress lifestyle could create physical and mental complications much earlier than predicted.

Amjad Ali Khan