Why I Refuse to Eat Kale & Quinoa

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With Ramadan approaching at lightning speed, talks of new diets emerge, along with promises of losing weight and exercising more. For some of us, the goal is just to get through the month without ballooning up because of one-too-many kunafa slices.

While I agree that Ramadan is a fruitful opportunity to maintain healthy eating habits, I disagree with how ‘healthy eating’ continually evolves in the form of ‘trends.’ From juice detoxes to eliminations of complete food groups, it sometimes gets a little too drastic, with food trends changing at a pace that even fashion designers would struggle to keep up with.

When I was younger and any of my family members would go on a diet, the same diet plan would always hang on the refrigerator door, demanding the same miserable breakfast of one hardboiled egg, a spoonful of beans and a small piece of bread. Lunch would always revolve around grilled/steamed chicken/beef/fish, with steamed veggies and a small salad on the side. Dinner was always fruit and yogurt, always. And every single time, those diets failed -because they were absolute torture.

After the grilled/steamed trend came the ‘no food after eight pm’ trend. Afterwards came the ‘cutting out carbs’ trend. At one point there was the ‘one meal a day’ trend. And after that came the ‘hot water with lemon first thing in the morning’ trend. I’m not saying that any of those ideas were bad, but people followed them blindly, never bothering to adjust them according to their own lifestyle, weight or body shape.

The only thing that’s always remained consistent throughout the years is the ‘free day,’ where people go crazy trying to stuff their faces with as much junk food as possible. And that’s because some people perceive healthy eating as a yo-yo dieting process rather than a lifestyle change –either only eating food that is steamed and tasteless, or instead camping out in front of McDonald’s.

And now, the current trend is all about unattainable foods. I was browsing my timeline when I came across an Egyptian nutritionist’s blog and opened it excitedly. I was looking forward to finding some healthy Egyptian recipes for a change –no more impossible-to-find ingredients, at long last! Because, seriously, it can get depressing when you find a cool recipe but can’t try it out because you’ve never even heard of half the ingredients.

To my dismay, almost all the recipes in this ‘Egyptian blog’ required ‘exotic’ ingredients like kale, quinoa, chia seeds, almond milk, gluten-free flour and a whole other bunch of products that can only be found at very specific supermarkets. In fact, with today’s import/export problems and inflation issue, not only will these products become too expensive for many, they could also easily go missing from supermarkets with the next import/dollar issue.

While I understand and respect the nutritional value of things like kale and chia seeds, I don’t see this westernized approach to food as a long-term solution. While there are a few local outlets that sell these kinds of products, they are few and aren’t easy to find. For now, what’s the shame in eating foods that are both healthy and attainable?

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