So you have just had your lunch and you feel pretty full. One of your team members is celebrating her birthday today and she places a pretty generous piece of chocolate cake on your table and walks away. What would you do? Would you get tempted? You know you just had your lunch! Would you do a mental count of your calorie intake and save it for later or would you seek an excuse to attack the cake right then?! Don’t try to cheat yourself. You know exactly where you belong. Or do you?!

This brings us to the topic of the day. Do we eat to live or live to eat? Or rather should we eat to live or live to eat? This is a pretty straightforward, yet, one of the most debated topics ever. If you belong to the first category, you are the one who takes healthy eating seriously and would probably take anyone around on a guilt trip for enjoying a good slice of pizza. People belonging to the second category are the epicureans, those who seek pleasure from palatable food and drink. And it’s true that most of us find ourselves falling somewhere in between these two spectrums.

Food has always been a highly significant facet of our lives. Especially, our nation has been one that’s extremely passionate about food, given its varied regions with rich cultures. There are multiple standpoints for us to look at this from. Weddings in our country have always been more about food than about the couple. Wedding budgets might not provide for an extra pattu saree for the bride, but there is always room to add an extra dessert to the dinner menu. Why is this a common happening in most of our houses? In olden times, food was often looked upon as an entity of one’s financial status and stature in the society. We live in a time period where obese people get body shamed. However, back in those days, people with a thin body frame were looked down upon. It was a measure of affordability back then. What we have is a different manifestation of the same. It’s not just weddings; festivities in our country are always about food. The lavish spread of delicacies adds to the color and celebrations of the occasion.

More than all this, Indians have an emotional connect with food like no one ever did. For us, food is seen as a function of affection and relationships. Some of our favorite dishes evoke so many wonderful memories. Pickles and papads remind you of your master chef grandmother. A cup of hot rasam made by your mother could make any kind of flu fade away within minutes. Someone who stays away from home should be able to relate to this so well. I am from Chennai and I live in Pune with my husband. I get hugely thrilled when I find the words, “idly” or “dosa” in the menu of any restaurant here. This is when food comes to our rescue and makes us feel comforted and at home. Food gives you a sense of identity and belongingness when you’re an outsider.

On one hand, there are new restaurants opening up almost every day and getting food delivered to our homes cannot get any easier with all the apps around. On the other hand, eating disorders like emotional eating and the whole diet culture mania are on high now. Having a balanced relationship with food is a true challenge. Some will have to realize that food is more than a part of survival and appreciate food that is one of the best experiences in human life. And people on the other end of the spectrum will have to start admitting that their health is an important concern. They need to understand that food is not just about taste and look beyond relishing the same. Eating healthy food isn’t going to stop them from savoring their favorite delicacies. It’s just that I should be ready to eat my broccoli in order to earn my chocolate chip cookie for there can be a painting only when there is a canvas. It’s all about the balance!

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