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Here is a shockingly unscientific and damaging article on nutrition in the Times of India:

The article promotes dal chawal as a full and nutritious meal.

A lot of people believe such poorly researched and unscientific articles simply because it has appeared in a leading national newspaper, which is expected to have food and nutrition writers who have done their research.

Here is the truth –

Dal chawal is a very poor meal replacement for adults and children alike.

As a meal it has poor macronutrient balance and very poor micronutrient diversity, and it has a high glycaemic load as well.

While it may be a good inclusion in an otherwise complete meal, it is unsuitable as a meal replacement.

As a meal replacement it is junk food.

Children who are fed dal chawal too often as a complete meal, will develop many deficiencies and if dal chawal was the only thing they ate, they will soon be victims of hidden hunger. The micro nutrient deficiencies will cause stunted physical and mental development. It will also lead to a whole host of other health and development problems which will be due to deficiencies (including that of trace minerals). Often, it will be difficult to figure out which deficiency, making targeted intervention difficult.

Adults who eat dal chawal as a complete meal most of the time will not only develop the same deficiencies, but will also be at high risk of metabolic disease. Dal chawal as a complete meal is specifically not recommended for obese people or people who are already at risk of diabetes, fatty liver disease, hypertension etc. As a complete meal, it would have a high glycaemic and insulinaemic load.

Dal chawal would be a healthy meal, if and only if it was combined with a lot of diverse, non starchy vegetables and some healthy fat. Typically, the quantity of the vegetables should be at least the same, if not more than the dal chawal.

For growing children or geriatrics, the meal will also need additional protein. Vegetarians can use paneer and increase dal while reducing rice in the meal. Non vegetarians can use eggs, meat, fowl or fish.

India has a severe nutrition problem amongst adults and children, whether rich, middle-class or poor. A big part of the problem is a poor understanding of nutrition amongst the people. We don’t need this kind of writing in the mainstream press to make things worse.

Times Of India really must stop spreading unscientific nutrition myths and superstition.

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