To Ghee or not to Ghee?

Written By

Reenu Bahl

To ghee or not to ghee.Nov10 2015.Final_to ghee or not to ghee-05 Loading

Savouring gond ke laddoo laden with ghee as the baby sleeps, my eyes wander to the fat on my belly. Look at Shilpa Shetty-Kundra, I think. She went back to a concave stomach after giving birth and she’s admitted to eating ghee daily. “This fat will dissolve later. You and your child need nutrition right now,” is what nursing mothers like me are told.

But is ghee really as important as a sound night’s sleep and balanced diet? Why do I consume kilos of ghee after I’ve delivered a baby even though I’ve barely added a teaspoon of it to my chapatis for most of my adult life? It’s almost as though being a new mother, my body is governed by a new set of rules driven by old wives’ tales. “Ghee strengthens bones and joints which are shaken during childbirth,” the neighborhood aunties counsel. I must defer to their ‘experience,’ and not question why the kilos of ghee they consumed after childbirth don’t come to their rescue now, as they complain of joint pains and the onset of arthritis.

I’m aware that ghee is being touted as a new superfood in the West. Back home, celebrity dietician Rujuta Diwekar has said ghee is an essential part of a healthy diet as it has a unique structure that actually helps mobilize body fats. Diwekar recommends its consumption in modest amounts.

My mother has never heard of Rujuta. But she shows me an old book on Ayurveda, which says, “Ghee is a must to lubricate your body after childbirth and regain energy lost in labour. It also helps bring internal organs back to their right place.” So ghee can move organs! In my disbelief, I turn to a more recent publication titled ‘Ayurvedic Garbha Sanskar’ by Dr Balaji Tambe. In his diet chart for expectant mothers, ghee takes a centrestage from the fifth month, and women are advised to eat 6-7 tsps of homemade ghee through the day. Post delivery, Dr Tambe favours an almost detox diet of khichdi, light soups, dal, rice, bhakri, chapati and lightly-prepared vegetables. There’s no mention of ghee for new mothers.

Homeopathy says ghee lubricates your bowel system, which can become necessary after childbirth. It is also high in vitamin K2 which aids the baby’s structural development. Nursing mothers are said to lose almost 240 mg of calcium through milk, which according to homeopathy, can be supplemented with a good diet that includes ghee.

Not everyone’s sold on the idea. My Delhi-based gynaecologist Dr Sharda Gautam is dismissive of how my mother adds dollops of ghee to my dal-sabzi and makes me drink a concoction of ghee and milk every morning. “It is totally a myth that ghee is necessary for new mothers,” she says. “If ghee can repair bones and joints, why would we ask women to take calcium pills after childbirth?” She feels a non-fattening pill is healthier than drinking ghee after delivery. As for the babies, they can be fed ghee directly when they become six months old.

It’s clear that the inclusion of ghee in a diet for new mothers isn’t just an age-old tradition, but a wisdom with proven benefits. But I’ve come to the conclusion that the gains are literally outweighed by the damage that consumption of any calorie-rich substance can cause. So I’m erring on the side of caution, and choosing a healthier option of low calorie, nutrient-rich foods from now on. After all, this fat isn’t going to ‘dissolve’ on its own!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Reenu Bahl, an ex journalist, who once was busy chasing the stars,is now busy raising a star - brat 'R'. A full time mother, she is enjoying a long break seeing her child grow each day and in the process, gathering all the details required to write a book on children. However, going by her speed, the book may take years to come.

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