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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Ashoka chapter.

Edited by: Prisha Visveswaran

It was revolting. The yellow smeared across her teeth, the residue of ghee and sugar coating her fingers, the gluttony she sought to satisfy with yet another bite. I was at my living room table. It was the summer of 2011 and I was there, looking at her feast on what can only be described as a dietician’s nightmare.  Nani would often make these elaborate meals with aamras, ghee rotis, and fryums. Most often that would not suffice. Nani would submit to just giving her a bowl of sugar to battle her unrelenting sugar cravings. You will regret your unhealthy eating habits later, I comment. She looks up. A bit annoyed but mostly perplexed, she shrugs, postponing the problem. Nani says that there is little that makes humans happier than food she responds, heaping another spoonful of Aamras into her mouth. She only says that because she is your Nani, I respond. She waves an uninterested hand at me. Her nonchalance irks me. I look on at her with resentment.

But somewhere deep-seated in my repugnance was the pesky lingering of envy. Looking at her stuffing another handful of fryums into her mouth, I reflected on how instinctually  I would flip over a packet of chips to inspect its caloric breakdown. In his book, the Omnivore’s Dilemma, Micheal Pollen illustrates how modern food trends change how we view food itself. Constant exposure to diet and influencer culture, and access to a never-ending stream of knowledge about caloric intake, food becomes a means to a “healthier” lifestyle. Food breaks down and is evaluated from the micro level of its chemical makeup [Pollen]. Take diet culture and modern beauty standards. Crodock defines diet culture as set of expectations that reinforce the idea that there is only “one way to be and one way to look and one way to eat and that we are a better person, we’re a more worthy person if our bodies are a certain way,” Whether it’s fatphobic comments on social media or Seema Aunty’s passive aggression, our perception of our bodies as seemingly “shapeshifting” has immense bearings in our relationship to food. 

This changing relationship, however, is also a product of how we view humans themselves. Pollen argues that this numbing of consumption patterns is a product of our times. In a society that evaluates an individual based on how productive they are, they have little time to consider whether or not they enjoy the meals they consume. Food becomes secondary – designated to an activity you would do along something whether that’s writing an essay or watching a sitcom. This trivialization of actually enjoying food is coupled with these ideas of productivity. And as I watched her focus wholly consumed in the meal before her, I was reminded of the hurried meals I would ingest running from one class to another and the meals I would forget in the absorbed in the daily responsibilities of college and studies. 

The chair screeched against the floor and she let out a content sigh. I looked up at her as she wiped her hands on her shirt. Done? I ask. She nods contently, flashing her yellow-stained teeth, I look on at her. My revulsion and resentment seem to fade away, replaced by a resigned acceptance of how times change. 

Neha Maniar

Ashoka '25

Neha is a sophomore at Ashoka University, majoring in Political Science and Economics. She loves researching and writing about themes relating to gender dynamics and pop culture. She is a content writer for Her Campus.