Are Indians Really Eating Right?

Four Protein Superfoods That Are Frequently Ignored

Expert Opinion, India Protein Paradox
August 28, 2020

Khushboo Jain Tibrewala

Are Indians Really Eating Right?

From dals-curries to sabzi, roti, idli-dosa, and an array of fruit and dairy-based dishes, Indian cuisine is both diverse and wholesome. In fact, the traditional thali, which is a hallmark of Indian food, is in my view an epitome of good, clean eating. The thali, if designed correctly, can offer all the essential macronutrients as well as micronutrients. Amongst all of these, the one nutrient that does not get enough attention in the thali – protein.

Keeping this in mind, it is safe to assume that Indians must be consuming a good amount of proteins throughout the year. However, several studies, have shown that the regular Indian diet is grossly deficient in proteins. According to a 2017 survey by Indian Market Research Bureau (IMRB)  73% of urban rich Indians are protein deficient, and 93% are unaware of their daily protein requirements.

These numbers are both surprising and heartbreaking. A nation with such a rich heritage and food wisdom, with such numbers? Something has gone amiss. According to “India’s Protein Paradox”, a major cause for India’s lurking protein deficiency problem is that most Indian mothers, the primary decision-makers of a household’s nutrition intake, do not have adequate knowledge on the subject. A majority of the 2142 mothers who were surveyed, were able to recognize the correct protein levels of only 3 out of 11 food items. These included only dal, pulses, eggs, and nuts like almonds.

The survey also brought to light that most Indian households overestimate the protein power of food items such as leafy greens, roti, fruits, which, in fact, are quite low in the macronutrient content. A whopping 81% of these mothers were under the belief that eating roti sabzi, dal chawal type of meals would give them the required amount of proteins.

Another point that must be noted and addressed is that most non-vegetarians believe that they are getting enough proteins. Another study by IPSOS, further states that 65% of Indian non-vegetarian diets, along with 84% vegetarian ones, lack sufficient protein. This means that both, the vegetarians and non-vegetarians, are at risk of developing protein deficiency and related health impact.

All these findings bring us to one overarching question – ARE INDIANS EATING RIGHT?

Indian cuisine, inherently, has some of the most complex and delicious ways of incorporating proteins in the diet. However, today, we find ourselves struggling with something which is so abundantly available in nature and in our own traditional foods.

The solution is simple – awareness! This is something that needs the attention of everyone – policymakers, nutritionists, dietitians, educators, public workers, everyone! And the starting point would be to educate the homemakers – both the current generation and the future – so they the decisions they make on their family’s food habits are nutritionally sound and protein sufficient.

‘India’s Protein Paradox’ is a nation-wide survey commissioned by Right To Protein to understand and identify the practical challenges that pose a barrier to protein consumption in India.

(Khushboo Jain Tibrewala is a diet & lifestyle Coach at The Health Pantry)

Protein-O-Meter

The amount of protein you need depends on your weight, goals, and lifestyle. Protein-O-Meter will take your body-composition and activity level into account to estimate your protein needs. Start with the number given by the calculator, see how that makes you feel, and try adjusting your protein level up or down to see what amount makes you feel good and perform well!

Protein Index

Find out all about whole foods that are protein heroes! Achieve your fitness goals by finding out just how much protein you should incorporate to stay nourished.

Protein-O-Meter

The amount of protein you need depends on your weight, goals, and lifestyle. Protein-O-Meter will take your body-composition and activity level into account to estimate your protein needs. Start with the number given by the calculator, see how that makes you feel, and try adjusting your protein level up or down to see what amount makes you feel good and perform well!

Protein Index

Find out all about whole foods that are protein heroes! Achieve your fitness goals by finding out just how much protein you should incorporate to stay nourished.

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