Food and diet philosophies

I’m standing at a Safal store, staring at their limited stock of fruits with utter dismay. I have apples at home. I also have bananas and pears. And papayas. I need another type of fruit, but they only have pomegranates, which I just had, and they have honeydews, which I’m not sure I should have as winter sets in – who knows when the crop is from?

Finally, I go for the honeydew after checking with the shopkeeper whether it would ripe for tomorrow. The fruit felt rock solid, and I couldn’t find anything quickly about ‘how to pick honeydew’, so I only have his word to go by. I wonder what tomorrow is going to be like.

Tomorrow is the first time in my life that I will subsist only on fruits. Tomorrow is, in fact, I think the first time in my adult life when I will not have any type of grain in any meal – something that friends in Delhi seem to be doing with ease during ekadashi or navratra vrats. In my early years of knowing about these fasts – I had had, until then, the somewhat misplaced notion that young women didn’t fast – I used to be amazed at these women’s ability to control their temptations and go through the motions of the day. How could they spend a whole day without rice or roti, sometimes without salt, and worse, even without water, like during Karva Chauth? I was surprised that I had grown up without ever exploring, or even being aware of, this seemingly regular feature of women’s lives in this part of the country. Not only was I blissfully unaware, but I also used to make grand pronouncements about how nothing would make me fast. I was referring to fasting for religious reasons, of course, but look where I ended up – all set to eat only fruits for a whole day!

If you could see my face now, you will see disappointment, misery and dread all dancing about it in turns. All because this ‘voluntary’ fast, at doctor’s orders, is for health reasons, taken to calm down my somewhat-truant digestive system. The overall diet has been, for all intents and purposes, relatively smooth: I have to have sprouts every day, and in the first week (yup, it’s only been a while yet), I haven’t been bored yet. Contrary to what I thought, I can survive the night with just a bowl of steamed veggies for dinner. And the dry dates soaked in water that I have to have every morning are turning out to be less disgusting by the day. I’m even lucky to be allowed to have regular breakfast and lunch, I can have bhel and chivda for my namkeen cravings, and can thank my stars that I can, around two hours after waking up, have a cup of tea. Pepper, garlic-herb butter and oregano seasoning are my best friends, liberally sprinkled on my sprouts and salads, a fact I have conveniently withheld from the doctor for now.

While the diet has been easy and relatively light – I wonder about diets followed by people who want to desperately lose weight or control their thyroid or something pretty serious – I find my thoughts wandering to food that I can’t really eat. One night, my mind telling me that the bowl of veggies wasn’t enough, I broke the rule and greedily ate a few pieces of chikki. Another day, I had a Cadbury Eclairs, saying that a little piece couldn’t hurt. On Saturday, I had wine, declaring it was a cheat day. I knew I had reached a low this evening when I looked longingly at the dabba that held Marie biscuits.

Again, I wonder what tomorrow is going to be like. Will I start hating fruits? Will I be relieved when I return to the sprouts-salad days? Will I be grumpy, my stomach growling because I’m fed up of eating apples-bananas-honeydew-papaya-pears and will simply not eat anymore? Or will it set me on a new path where I’m no longer incredulous about how people fast? Only time will tell.

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