Why is the healthy food movement spreading across India

professional food photographer From Mumbai, Pawan Mangalani knew how to eat healthy food, but during the stressful months of the first lockdown, he stopped taking care of himself. Processed foods, sweets, alcohol and soft drinks entered his diet and continued after the pandemic. Manglani, 36, was able to see the changes in his body and stamina. Walking, climbing stairs and playing cricket became difficult. I didn’t want to go out to buy a new set of clothes. On February 1, 2022, I decided I would go discipline Says.

Join the gym and start eating fresh, whole, home-cooked food. He began to look for an alternative to the cola, which he was so fond of. A friend introduced him to a fermented tea called kombucha. Not much is known in India, kombucha has a 2,000-year history and is rich in probiotic bacteria and Antioxidants; It’s also an acquired taste. Mangalani has experimented with a number of brands until he finds a flavor he loves, made by Umami Brew, a Pune brewery that customizes kombucha for the Indian taste using local fruits, herbs and spices.

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Mangalani now has a separate shelf in his fridge to supply him with three months’ supply kombucha The bottles he or his friends bring all the way from Pune to his home in Andheri. When he wants a drink, Manglani opens a bottle, serves kombucha in a whiskey glass with plenty of ice, sips it slowly and savors the flavour, relieved that it is good for the body. “I have recommended it to a lot of people and it has helped them shed sugar,” says Manglani. He also doesn’t overdo it with kombucha, keeping it twice a week.

In Mysuru, 18-year-old Arshiya Ruman MZ asks other children not to eat outside unless they are sure of cleanliness. When it comes to her comfort food, ice cream, Arshhiya chooses a meal Dairy Free A brand called Just Gelato uses seasonal fruits and other natural ingredients. She doesn’t have any other ice cream even when she goes out with friends. “The more you eat normally, the better your health. We never knew there was a virus coming upon us that would kill or make people sick. We must choose what we eat wisely so that people see us and also choose responsibly.”

There is a food movement underway in the country, accelerated by the pandemic. People care more about the food they put in their bodies. Conscious eating, who used to be an outsider in his social group because they checked ingredients, nutritional values ​​and hygiene before eating, is now a role model. Cooking blogs, influencer posts, and daily conversations are filled with references to a balanced diet, intermittent fasting and energy supplements. The term “immune booster” has been one of the most searched terms in this pandemic.

In her 2018 book, Ultimate Grandmother Hacks (Rupa), nutritionist Kavita Devgan writes that traditional practices, such as adding raw onions and chili peppers at lunch and Dinner Eating as a family with the TV off has completely disappeared from modern homes. During the pandemic, Delhi-based Devgan has begun noticing a change among its clients, especially millennials (who are an important segment in a country where 66 percent of the population is under 35). “They go back to tradition in the little things, like carrying fruit When they go out because they realize the importance of the antioxidants and enzymes in fruit,” says Devgan, who published another book this year, The Immunity Diet (Rupa). “People are now more aware, reading a lot and adapting faster to a healthier lifestyle than before,” she says. It was like before when they were more focused on just losing weight.”

The last time India experienced a major shift in eating habits after economic liberalization was in 1991, when ancient food items gave way to foods rich in sugars, fats and protein. The cola wars and the fast-food boom led to the spread of restaurant chains to major cities, and then second and third tier cities. Uncommon taste of foreign food, from pizza and burgers to coffee and cakesIt attracted Indians who also fed on soap operas and movies from the United States and Europe that brought the Western lifestyle into their living rooms. One consequence of globalization is that India has become one of the world’s hubs for lifestyle diseases.

In June 2022, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation released data stating that monthly deaths due to heart attack increased six times in the first half of 2021 in Mumbai compared to previous years. According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), India is home to the second largest adult in the world diabetic Population, and every sixth person infected with the disease in the world is Indian. “The past three decades have seen a 150 percent increase in the number of diabetics in India,” the ICMR statement says.

“We started to realize that we were going the wrong way and had to change our habits, but that was slow because adapting to a healthy process is difficult when we are tempted. Fast food. The pandemic has accelerated the process as people are beginning to gather information about improving their lifestyle. What would take another decade would have happened in two years,” adds Devgn. India was one of the epicenters of the earthquake. COVID-19It is a tragedy in which everyone is lost. There was a lot of misery even in the people who survived the disease. Those who recovered had horrific health concerns. The country’s crumbling healthcare system added to the shock. People realized that their health was their greatest asset – and that it was, to some extent, under their control.

The changing mindset symbol comes packed in Salad Plate. The salad, which was a modest accompaniment, was a meal in itself. Restaurants, independent outlets, and home chefs have begun providing salads and soups in many cities. Delhi-based chef Tanuvee Agarwal maintains a kitchen garden for her upscale catering, called Atticus, which turns lush during the winter months with greens, lettuce, tomatoes, baby potatoes, radishes, carrots, and other vegetables. I started picking them to prepare salads, which offered her a subscription plan – 1,500 rupees for three days a week or 2,500 rupees, five times a week. Agarwal, who worked at the Michelin-starred Atelier Crenn in the US, was surprised by the high demand for salads. “A lot of the people we started sourcing to were working 9-5 from home and didn’t have time to cook. Ordering a salad from a trustworthy place was a relief for them,” she says.

Atticus offerings ranged from kohlrabi, mustard leaf, radish and tatsoi with lemon vinaigrette” with warm lentil soup to “crunchy vegetables, baby carrots, mushrooms, celery with a light chickpea salad” with roasted pepper soup. The number of customers increased 20 percent each year during the first two waves. Agarwal introduced non-vegetarian ingredients in 2021 and plans to increase that range this winter.” “There is a myth that if a person eats salad they reduce calories. If you eat a salad with a lot of mayonnaise, you don’t make it. We focus on producing healthy salads that are low in fat and truly wholesome.

How does one know what is healthy, especially while vegetables the shopping? Myths and jargon abound in the health food market, where harmful products are sometimes described as good food. Two words that have recently entered the consumer’s vocabulary will help clear up confusion – transparency and traceability. The first received a payment in December 2021 when the Delhi High Court required food companies to fully disclose all of their ingredients, including plant and animal sources, on the packaging. The latter is a feature that enables buyers to know the origins of their products.

True Elements was one of the first companies to introduce the traceability feature in India, which offers healthy breakfast and snacks like flavored pumpkin seeds, rolled oats, cashews and protein-rich nuts. berries. If you enter the name of the product with the batch code on the company’s website, you can see its journey from the farms, where the ingredients were purchased, with detailed quality reports. “Since the pandemic hit, customers have become more sensitive about what they are consuming and are more aware of the impact it will have on themselves and the environment. The market is now leaning toward healthy, sustainable foods,” says Puru Gupta, who co-founded True Elements with Shreejith Moolayil in 2015. Especially Clean Label products and components., Nagpur.

Devgan advises that home-cooked food should make up 80 percent of an individual’s diet. However, the industry has found a way to package healthy foods for easier access. According to Prasoon Gupta, co-founder and CEO of Delhi-based Sattviko, whose products include Antioxidant Makhana Snacks, the health food market is growing by 20 percent and is set to reach $30 billion in five years. “More people are looking for a comfortable dining experience without the guilt of overeating unhealthy food Or bargaining for taste.”

In December 2021, UK-based market research firm Euromonitor International and PepsiCo India released a report titled “The Impact of COVID-19 on nutrition choices for urban Indian consumers in 2021.” She said nearly 90 per cent of urban consumers would willingly pay more for healthier food alternatives. The food industry’s rapid response indicates that the healthy food movement will gain strength. Right now, chips and unhealthy sweets dominate the shelves, but they’re sharing the space with snacks, desserts and appetizers labeled “vegan,” “organic,” “gluten-free,” and “free of pesticides and artificial ingredients.” There is a growing interest in A2 milk. Dairy products and organic groceries.

It has become an even better scene for health-conscious moms like Mumbai-based Pia Desai. She has always been exercising and eating healthily but became more mindful when her children were born about a decade ago. There were few healthy food options available in India at the time, so Desai used to ask friends who traveled abroad to bring baby food and snacks for her children. “With the opening of the market and the entry of new snacks, my life has become easier,” she says. Although the communications profession cooks up every day, she solved her daughters tiffin problem by buying Snack-A-Doodle strawberry bouquets. An apple bars. “What I love is that there is no processed sugar. It’s a bit sweeter than the apple and the kids love it,” she says.

Snack-A-Doodle was started by two mums in Mumbai, Radhika Pandya and Simar Dal, in April 2021 when online lessons and closed living made the need for nutritious snacks even more pressing. “The pandemic has been a game changer for health-conscious brands. We have seen a 30 percent repeat rate of customers per month. We pride ourselves on being honest about our product ingredients,” says Dhall.

I have noticed the role of big business in the healthy foods market. Among them is Marico, which manufactures Savola cooking oil. The consumer goods giant announced in May 2022 that it had acquired 54 percent of True Elements. “True Elements has built its first phase of growth mostly through a combination of innovative product offerings with clean labels and high consumer confidence. The focus in its next phase will be on building the brand equity further and accelerating its entry into new homes. The investment in True Elements is a conscious step towards accelerating expansion of our food portfolio as we aim to achieve the next ambitious phase of Rs 850-1,000 crore business volume in Foods by fiscal year 24,” says Sanjay Mishra, COO, India, and Director Executive, New Company, Marico Ltd.

Making a lifestyle change begins as a challenging journey, with obstacles like peer pressure and withdrawal symptoms. But studies show that a significant number of people exercise, eat well, and lead healthy lives. The broader rules of healthy eating have not changed in centuries. “With any habit, you have to be patient. Give it time and you will see a change,” says Devgan.