The Ganpati festival has begun and as we prepare to welcome home the God of good luck, the WhatsApp and Facebook timelines of all Mumbaikars get filled with adverts of ‘sugar free’, ‘low fat’, and ‘zero cholesterol’ modaks.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE MODAK
The first reference to this traditional sweet made of rice dumplings filled with a coconut and jaggery mixture and sealed with ghee is found in the Padma Purana that dates as far back as 4th century AD.
Sage Patanjali (the sage behind Yoga Sutras) would had never thought that thousands of years later, biscuits and noodles would be sold in his name. Similarly, Ganpati while winning the modak from his mother Parvati, would have never guessed that his favourite delicacy, years later, would be transformed into various versions of the low sugar/ low fat variety by the weight loss industry, looking out for people ready to consume products in the name of health or weight loss.
But as they say, the truth has a way of catching up, and rightly so, now the Modern Science is also in sync with the age old Padma Purana. In their 2015-2020 dietary guidelines, they recommend that we must eat traditional foods that are also a part of our culture.
So ladies and gentlemen, as we get ready to welcome the pot-bellied elephant-headed God, here are few frequently asked questions (FAQS) on his most loved sweet, the Modak:
- I am diabetic. Can I really eat the modak?
Nutrition science tells us that addition of fat to a meal brings down its glycemic index. Fat slows stomach emptying, delaying the process of converting food to blood sugar. Hence, the more fat, the slower the sugars (‘carbohydrates’) are digested, and the lower the glycemic index. Voila! You now know why your grandmother always added good amount of ghee while rolling those modaks for you! (By the way, if you are a diabetic, here are some basic tips to change your lifestyle)
- What’s really wrong with the sugar-free variety?
Ok, I give you that you only know about the sweeteners through TV commercials with celebs swearing by them but if you are taking them in place of sugar; then you better know that the American Heart Association (AHA) and American Diabetes Association (ADA) discourages the mindless use of sweeteners in place of sugar for weight loss or even diabetes.
- Isnt it ‘fattening’?
The rice flour in modak boasts of an essential amino acid called lysine, that accelerates fat burning. Ghee is rich in butyric acid, a short chain fatty acid, that not only promotes a healthy gut environment but is also fat burning in nature!
- My doctor has put me on cholesterol lowering drugs. What do I do?
If you are worried about coconut and ghee and hence cholesterol, know that in April 2015, the USFDA said that “cholesterol is not a nutrient of concern for overconsumption”. Basically, they believe that dietary guidelines were pointing in the wrong direction and cholesterol and fat is now making a huge comeback.
- Come on, after all, I am on a diet!
Modak could easily qualify as a ‘superfood’—rich in minerals and B vitamins, gluten-free, source of protein, increases insulin sensitivity and full of good fat. So if being on a ‘diet’ is what you like, you should definitely not miss the modaks
“Ganpati Bappa Moriya, Pudcha varshi loukar ya!”
Read more on diet tips for Indian festivals & special occasions-
1. Diwali survival guide: Here’s how to party hard and not gain weight
2. 7 Diet & Exercise Tips for Diwali – The “Yuktahaar” style
4. The ‘Shakti’ is within – Strong is beautiful
5. The story of the fish on your plate: From “food” to “omega3”
6. The ‘scientific’ view on ‘Maa ke haath kaa khana’ on Mother’s day
7. Puranpolis: Tuck it in, it’s Holi after all!