The Journey From Hatred to Love For Simple Foods
Think Pieces

The Journey From Hatred to Love For Simple Foods

Here is an account of how the writer fell in love with simple and healthy foods she once hated

I was always a fussy eater. Mum tells that in my childhood I would pull faces if I discovered she had cooked daal for dinner. Although skipping the meals was never an option considering the generation I come from, I still had to eat what was available at home. In those days, parents did not unnecessarily pamper the children hence there was no way that we would be served a meal from Mcdonald’s if we threw a tantrum about the vegetables on the dinner table. I even remember mum telling me that if I skipped the lunch she wouldn’t offer me dinner either. Did I have a choice?

So basically, I was a fussy eater in my head. I wanted to have only chicken tossed in spices and tomato. I wanted pulao cooked in the meat stock. I wanted French Fries with ketchup and chaat masala. Since the exposure was limited, so this was all I wanted (which was pretty much by the standards back then).

Mum was not only strict about what the children were supposed to eat but also about the health parameters. Hence, I did not have the liberty to devour all the fatty and sugary foods I loved. Neither ice cream nor French Fries were a daily ritual. Even the elderly uncle who helped mum in the kitchen was strictly forbidden from letting me have all I wanted. Mum was conscious for me because of her three children I was the one who loved food the most. She was also aware of my tendencies of putting on weight easily and hence was adamant to put a stop on my cravings since early childhood.

I do not know how fair it was at that time.

Anyways, since I was a foodie who only wanted to eat what I liked I ended up learning cooking at the age of ten. I could make French Fries (even if those were irregularly cut). Pretty self-sufficient, I must say!

Spicy food was my favourite. From having chopped green chillies with the vegetable cooked at home to squeezing lemons into the curries, I enjoyed strong tastes. For me, even the French Fries had to be sprinkled generously with chaat masala.

Since I could cook now, I started cooking everything I loved for myself. Now I did not have to ask my mum or the uncle who helped in the kitchen for the snacks I liked. Although they did not like me creating a mess in the kitchen, I did not care much. Every evening I would sneak into the kitchen, prepare French Fries while mum was out for a walk and uncle was outside sipping his tea. I was in heaven in those moments.

Until at the age of 16, I ended up with an overwhelming pain in my abdomen. Since I was literally trembling with pain, I had to be taken to the hospital in an emergency. The doctor diagnosed me with acute acidity and suggested my parents to keep me away from fatty and spicy foods.

Hence my personal cooking adventures had led me to where I was; in the hospital, quivering with intense abdominal pain.

However, due to the medicines perhaps, I started improving after two days. Teenagers usually have a short term memory. I was back to my favourite foods.

While handling with digestive issues every now and then, finally, there came the day when I was diagnosed with ulcers in my stomach. I needed to be in complete control of my medical situation otherwise it could result in unwanted consequences. Now I was mature enough to understand the severity of the situation. I knew that being careful was all I needed to do in life.

Now I started having foods that were light on my stomach and did not have a strong taste. Yes, I started taking the spices off the pedestal I had earlier placed those on. From having strawberry smoothies to daal cooked in salt and nominal spices only, I tried everything that I had not devoured in the past. Earlier, I had a disdain for foods like bitter gourd, pumpkin etc. not because I hated the taste but because I had never tasted those. I disliked those just on the basis of assumptions in my head.

I also started studying about the sattvic foods that had been consumed by the Indian subcontinent for centuries and were believed to be healthy for the physical and mental health. My mental health also started improving.

So basically, the same foods that I hated were the ones that became my major source of energy and my solace in the times I needed that the most. Simple bread and butter was a treat that I looked up to. Rolled oats with fruits became my favourite dessert. I started loving what I hated before. The same child who would make faces if daal was served on the dinner table now craved for it when poured over boiled white rice. I would never have discovered the bliss of simple foods had I not suffered the pain. I hated all these foods before because I had never had those.

If it has taught me one lesson in life, it is never to hate anything or anyone without knowing them from the inside. Maybe what you are avoiding is your elixir to a happy life. Give it a try! Hatred is a passion too strong for this short life.

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By Saadia Ahmed
Saadia Ahmed is a Bollywood and cheesecake fanatic with no obvious interest in space travel. She tweets @khwamkhwah day in and out