If you thought eating a boiled egg for breakfast was a healthy option, you are in for a shock. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, on Monday, has equated eggs and meat with junk food like soft drinks, French fries, and what looks like a glass of beer.
Tweeting an image of two kinds of bodies - which for some reason are female - the Ministry has put forth a deep question to followers: What is your choice?
The bodies are saturated with colourful food items but this is not the time for art appreciation. What the Ministry is asking is: Would you like to eat meat, eggs and junk food, leading to a (umm) wide-hipped body? Or would you like to eat vegetables, fruits, and then some more vegetables and fruits to be an Indian Barbie?
According to the Ministry, even a slice of brown bread cannot be eaten if you want to be Exhibit B(arbie). The illustrations, needless to say, go against the very idea of a balanced diet that is taught right from kindergarten. While deep fried and high sugar, high salt foods are to be avoided, a healthy person needs a balanced diet of carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, fats, iron and calcium. It's not possible to get all these nutrients by just eating fruits and vegetables all day as the Ministry seems to be advocating with its not-so-subtle body shaming.
One Twitter user pointed out that the Ministry seems to have lifted the image from a weight loss website which carries an article titled 'How To Get Rid Of Saddlebags'. We Googled for "saddlebags", wanting to be thorough in our research, and here's what we summarised: they are fat deposits in the thighs, on the outer part of the buttocks.
Getting rid of 'saddlebags' is quite a different ambition from achieving "good nutrition", which is, as the Ministry says, "one of the keys to a #healthy life" as promoted by the Ministry. "Choose wisely, live well," the Ministry has further said in the same tweet.
The answer is much more mundane (though worrisome too) - they just copied the image (and its associated food choices) from some questionable websites https://t.co/unYWkmsY46â€” Rohin Dharmakumar (@r0h1n) April 23, 2018
This is not for the first time that non-vegetarian food has been characterised as undesirable in a country where over 70% of the population is non-vegetarian. Vegetarianism, in India, is associated more with upper caste groups which despite forming a smaller percentage of the population, hold cultural hegemony in the country.
Previously, a Class 6 textbook used in some CBSE schools claimed that non-vegetarians are liars, cheaters and dishonest people, who in addition, also commit sexual violence. In July 2015, the BJP government in Madhya Pradesh banned eggs in the midday meal school programme. This despite the fact that MP has over 50% malnourished children. As this 2015 Huffington Post article says, the tendency to do away with eggs in the midday meal has mostly been seen in BJP-ruled states.
Twitter was quick to take the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to the cleaners. From pointing out factual problems with the poster to asking "Where is the gaumutr in the healthy body", Twitter was having none of it.
Is Egg unhealthy? If so, Dhara Singh, Dharmendra, Sachin, Saina etc should all apologise to 1.3 Billion Indians for promoting this fake news created by NECC. pic.twitter.com/iNq6E3TsFVâ€” Unofficial Sususwamy (@swamv39) April 23, 2018
@MoHFW_INDIA Its carbohydrates and sugar that make us fat. Vegetarians are also fat! If you have adequate protein rich foods like meat, poultry, eggs and foundation vegetables you will remain trim and fit. That's called #AtkinsDiet. Plz do not spread false information. pic.twitter.com/lcj10T9LzYâ€” Sunil Ananthapuri (@sunilupdate) April 23, 2018
Where's the gaumutr in the healthy body?â€” Quantumly Entwined (@SpaceCrazy) April 23, 2018
Where should ppl from West India go?â€” Bring It On (@TigersBloodCell) April 23, 2018
Systematically creating health associations with vegetarianism. Depicting egg, meat and poultry as unhealthy, pairing with fast food choices such as soda. Focus should be on a balanced diet. Where is the evidence on this? We know what narrative you are weaving here @MoHFW_INDIA https://t.co/v0IShu3cNpâ€” Dr. Sumaiya Shaikh (@Neurophysik) April 23, 2018
Ofcourse bread and butter are unhealthy. You tell me Where does butter come from? Milk. Where milk comes from? Cow. What does cow eat? Plants. What does plants have? Leaf. What does leaf rhyme with? Beef. And we all know how unhealthy beef is.â€” Mr Peanutbutter (@illogicalhooman) April 23, 2018
Following the trolling, the Health Ministry quietly deleted the tweet.