Low-fat chips, sugar-free cookies, sugar-free cakes, sugar-free chocolates, no sugar – only jaggery, no tea – only green tea, no oil – but olive oil is okay, no ghee, no butter – but peanut butter is healthy – And, the list of the so-called HEALTHY Foods is Never-ending!

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You might not know that these healthy foods that are sold to you, that are advertised so fancily on the shopping websites may not really be as healthy as you think! And, not just that! They could also be unhealthy! (Your home-made palak pakoda or kaanda bhajiya is actually healthier than the baked potato chips or baked samosas! Yes!!)

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But, How and Why is this a Public Health issue?

Because, people of all income groups, educational backgrounds and ages are exposed to this marketing! When foods, supplements or drinks like these are so popular in the market, it is important that we make informed decisions and let the awareness around it grow as much as the sales of these products. More public involvement means higher risk which means greater need for staying alert and aware!!!

How Popular is this? (You know it, already!)

You watch T.V. and you may see a green tea or baked food ad, you switch channels and you may find some magical powder ad that claims to make you lose weight – now, you’re obviously not going to go them if you don’t lose weight and they’d obviously get their money! (a lot of times, you consume the food even when you don't like the taste because you are under the pressure of attaining a certain, often unrealistic or unsustainable goal.)

It’s not just the things that you can consume, but also the things that you can apparently just apply or wear on your body and you’d lose weight! Whoa!! And, because they hit all the right chords and they know how to target your emotional insecurity – your body weight and looks, they promote their product, convince you even if they don’t make you completely believe it and then make you buy it – at least, once or twice.

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By God’s grace, if you realize after one or two purchases that it either is more harmful or it is not beneficial at all, you may stop this cycle. By then, they’d find someone else, though! But, think about you not realizing its harm or uselessness on your Health and how it’s burning a hole in your pocket – you will go on losing your hard-earned money and the asset that’s bigger than all that wealth, too – YOUR HEALTH! And, go on with the thinking! I know it sounds like crazy imagination but it IS the truth! Once you’re desperate and they convince you intelligently, you are going to go to the extremes!! The story of buying these products from television advertisements that don’t even make sense to you, doesn’t end here. Because, after you’ve lost a considerable amount of your cash buying these products like a subscription, you will have to also visit the Doctor for any unexplained disorders you may develop after these dangerous trials on your body!

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Guess what! You’ve lost twice the money, now! One – to pay for a Health Short-cut, Two – to say sorry to yourself and your Doctor!!

The consequences may not be very severe in everyone. And for some, it may take months and years to show up. Sometimes, you may not even figure out that eating a preserved or packaged food for years or applying a crazy product on your body, made this happen! (Of course, the television advertisement guys told you it has NO SIDE EFFECTS – but by the time you develop an issue, the ad may stop airing on T.V. itself!)

It's not just the T.V., it is also other social media platforms! (Your phone is in your hands, 24x7!) Search for just a few health or weight loss posts/videos and the algorithm just knows what to show you next – be ready for a lot of self-proclaimed experts who will tell you how to lose weight, will charge you for their services and YOU ultimately will be responsible for your ill-health.

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Forget about the devices! Forget about the WhatsApp messages and MAGIC WEIGHT LOSS Drink forwards by your “Well-Wishers”! Also, forget about the apps that make you count every bite you eat!! Even when you move out of your house, with no gadgets, you will find the WEIGHT LOSS/WEIGHT GAIN ads on hoardings, on buses, etc., etc. with a random number. (Trust me, I saw a contact number for Weight loss with no other details on an Auto, recently!)

People who are not well-educated or are desperate/disappointed after multiple weight loss attempts and methods may actually fall into this trap! A lot of times, it is also the educated, informed and aware people!!

So, what’s the answer to this problem? What is the actual Jan-Hit-mein-Jaari advice for this potential threat to People’s Health?

Here are a few tips that can help you stay safe and preserve your biggest asset – Your Health!! (Coming from a Qualified Nutritionist!):

1. Do not buy any product that shows up while you are shopping for other things on a website – for example, ignore the sugar-free cookies ad when it is showed to you when you buy other groceries! (The artificial sweeteners in such products can harm you both in the short-term and in the long run! Better to stay on the safe side.)

2. Do not buy any powder, supplement, pill or drink that tells you that your fat will be melted or you will lose an X amount of weight in Y amount of days because it can cause you Z amount of complications!! (If there was really some product that worked like a Jaadoo ki chhadi, wouldn’t we all be fit? And why would there be a subject called Nutrition Science?)

3. Do not buy products like gels or creams or belts that can be applied or worn on your body and that claim that you will lose weight! (These claims are not coming from a Qualified Medical or Nutrition Expert plus you don’t even know if there is enough scientific evidence behind it. You don’t know the reaction it can cause on your body – internally and externally. And for Heaven’s sake, do not believe the Before-After Photos! Anyone CAN edit photos, after all!)

4. Do not buy products that replace your normal foods with other expensive products! (You may not make Good Health but the brands will, for sure, make Good Money!) Like jaggery powder or brown sugar or honey instead of Sugar! (They’re all calories, ultimately and they’re all sweet! Eat what YOU like and switch them according to your recipes’ demand – just take them in moderation.)

5. If you like the taste of products like oats, chia seeds, quinoa or green tea, sure, you can buy them and have them but not in the hope of weight loss or magically appearing flat belly – eat it just because it’s your preference. (You may want to have them occasionally, too! Because, they’re ultimately expensive and don’t quite do something so extraordinary that a home-cooked Balanced Diet cannot!)

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This is a deeper topic and I just shared a pond of information while there is a river of such products and an ocean of guidelines and research studies on every such product available in the market.

But, in a nutshell, “focus on eating what is made at your home and how you feel inside your body than what is easily available in the market and how your body looks on the outside.”

Ultimately, both your Khoon-Paseene ki Kamaai and your Aarogya are at stake!!

Do not fall into the marketing strategies and prioritize your health. Take care of yourself, your parents, your children, your friends and anyone else who is important to you! (Not every product may be harmful. Sometimes, some foods do become healthier swaps for extremely unhealthy or unhygienically-cooked snacks but if taken very regularly, definitely have the potential to pose a risk both on your health and your wallet!)

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Stay Safe. Stay Aware. Stay Healthy. And, keep using a lot of common sense!! 

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