With the consumerism taking its roots in Pakistan, Pakistani people are increasingly becoming obsessed with commercially produced processed foods. The country once known for Healthy foods and fresh dairy products has witnessed changed in consumer preferences as people have started purchasing processed foods instead of natural foods that’s least the Healthy Lifestyle.
This trend is in contradiction with the principles of healthy lifestyle. Healthy lifestyle is forsaken at expense of our health and rich cooking tradition.
I remember, back in 90’s, the guests would be served with tea, cookies, and snacks. The trend has completely changed since then. Now, the families have adopted un- healthy lifestyle and they offer a variety of processed eateries to guests visiting at home.
The dinner parties serve milkshake comprised of Vanilla essence, with high dose of fructose syrup having huge volume of preservatives to prolong its expiry date. Moreover, when one ignores having this and go for some fresh juice or green tea, the hosts often take it to their heart and force you to have some ‘Vanilla Milkshake’ as they regard it rich in flavor. In the quest to serve and sweeten the taste buds, we have forgotten the essence of healthy lifestyle that includes the food good for health as invariable element of one’s life.
It’s surprising to know that most well aware and educated people adopt un-healthy lifestyle. Today, mostly in elite class, one is in race to offer wide array of eatery items just to boast of the quality of feast disregarding the impact it has on one’s health. We witness unnecessary addition of saturated oil in the foods for cooking purpose, just because it adds up more taste to it. These days, the fresh milk is no more preferred by the people. They regard it as un-hygienic and lacking the taste. They conveniently go for dried-powdered milk to be used in tea rather than fresh milk. The reason they give is “tea really tastes better with this whitener”. May be it does, but it doesn’t make to healthy foods ensuring healthy lifestyle.
While visiting to friend’s house or relatives one often hear host asking, “Aap thanda lenge ya garam?” It occurs to my mind, the ‘garam’ will be black tea served with unhealthy-powdered milk and if I go for ‘thanda’ I will be served with chilled carbonated cola drinks with unusually high level of sucrose. Health conscious as I am, I refuse to have anything and go for water instead. But, I wonder why any one doesn’t think before offering something healthy and why anyone accepts having something un-healthy. After all, it’s the matter of one’s heart and health.
Misleading advertising creating a brand image of healthy nutrients while offering the processed foods attract the customers to adopt un-healthy lifestyle.
We have seen Cola companies such as Coca-cola and Pepsi making fortunes in Pakistan. Pepsi Cola ranks Pakistan among its top 10 markets in the world and its other brand Moutain Dew has the biggest market share in Pakistan after the U.S. In the wild race to earn maximum out of poor uneducated and ignorant people, the Multinational companies continue to exploit through massive marketing campaigns, most of them misleading, and promoting products which do not deserve to be added in healthy lifestyle. Cooking oils, milk sweeteners, canned juices, are sold to people by deceiving them.
Fancy packaging and good taste doesn’t ensure the health; this is something people are not told or are deliberately refuse to acknowledge.
Processed foods are increasingly finding their way into households of Pakistan, while whole world switches to greater use of organic and natural food. In the west, spiraling growth of home-grown vegetables is witnessed as people become more health conscious.
In the developed countries, consumers have right to ask about healthy ingredients of foods from companies while the government protects their right. Moreover, they are encouraged to fight obesity by having natural food. However, in Pakistan, the consumer is not even aware of his rights, let alone enjoys it. This is important for Pakistan, where the obesity rate is among the top 15 in the world; we need to follow healthy lifestyle by having natural foods to prevent from increasing obesity.
I grew up in rural town in Pakistan. We had lands and my family grew vegetables and fruits there so we would always enjoy healthy food. But, when we moved to Karachi, we continued same practice and grew vegetables and fruits in the garden. One can develop taste of fresh vegetables and salad by having it constantly every day. We are lucky in Pakistan that its agrarian nature allows us easy access to fresh vegetables and fruits and healthy lifestyle is an easy choice.
I suggest my fellow countrymen to follow healthy diet plan which is a key to healthy lifestyle. Healthy lifestyle demands that we are not baited to consumerist agenda of multi nationals and local companies. Processed foods may satisfy your appetite but I am sure that our traditional recipes of food are not only tasty but ensure the sound health and healthy lifestyle.
Now, my friends and relatives know my preferences. I’m treated with Lassi and green tea instead of cola or chai. Healthy lifestyle demands that we prefer well-cooked fresh meat over junk such as beef burgers, fresh fruits over jelly and custard, salads over samosas. It falls upon us a duty to be mindful of our health and of our beloved ones around. Healthy food is a key to healthy lifestyle, and healthy lifestyle of the people is a sign of flourishing nation.