Dal Chawal: The power of staple diets

Lately, I have been practicing running to improve my pace and time. Last year I was a complete novice at running, I just wanted to give it a try. There was no structured training involved, no plan and no diet. This year I am chasing all the metrics; cadence, SPM, HR, pronation, you name it. While I was busy chasing the metrics, I was completely oblivious or rather ignorant of one very important factor; diet. And thus I embarked on the pursuit to research and understand the diet of some of the successful athletes. I binged watched Youtube Videos and read blogs. Though I got some good content around diet, adopting the habits and diets of pro athletes remained a far cry for two reasons; cost and availability. I was not a pro-athlete, I was simply trying to complete my 10ks under 70 minutes.

Last week on a WhatsApp group of runners, I read the coach say: just have a high carb meal tonight, tomorrow we are going to run 10k at an easy pace. The keyword here was “High Carb”. And one of the first Google results for high carb was cereals and pulses. And Dal Chawal was one of the favorite meals that Indian runners preferred to have in their daily diet. As a matter of fact, Dal Chawal can qualify for all three meals as an Indian staple. And hence I decided to include more Dal Chawal in my weekly diet. It was a no brainer.

The catch here is that the word Diet is often misconstrued as the most complex, rich and expensive food that one has to eat to perform better or get better. The moment people hear “diet” they assume it to be either boring or too difficult to follow. When I incorporated the Dal Chawal routine, I understood the simple intrinsic meaning on diet: it is a staple and readily available food in your region that provides you adequate nutrients and energy while being easy on your tummy. While our digestive system is versatile to deal with a range of foods, it might be helpful if we build some routine for it. We are often bombarded with numerous propositions to try different delicacies and diets. And then we keep on surprising or tummy with various stuff. I believe that generates all in the inefficiency in the system and my belief is based on my experience.

I am not against having variety but it won’t hurt to build some predictability in our system. And stable diets are just meant for that, whole nations and communities rely on it and we tend to ignore it and take for granted.

We should appreciate and acknowledge the power of stable diets and Dal Chawal simply wins for me. 🙂






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