Kapur also raising money for low-income meal program

By Sena Christian, The Press Tribune, Link to story

Gopal Kapur was raised by a mother who cooked nutritious, homemade meals.

Gopal Kapur with TheBagOfLife program.

She was a religious vegetarian who avoided meat, fish and eggs. As an adult, Kapur worked in a restaurant with a chef who taught him the art of cooking. He married a woman whose father was a fruit rancher so she knew about seasonal produce.

The Roseville resident credits these three aspects of his life with fueling his passion for healthy food. He rarely eats packaged foods, instead opting for fresh ingredients.

Kapur, 72, recently launched a blog about nutrition. He posts monthly updates, along with biweekly nutrition alerts and hints to give readers information to take action.

Roseville resident Brian Webb takes care of the blog’s technical issues. The two men met through the Rotary Club of Roseville.

“I’ve been very involved in sports and extreme road cycling for many years and have practiced good nutrition and healthy living,” Webb said. “So when (Gopal) introduced to me the idea about creating a blog to educate others on nutrition, I jumped onboard to help spread the word. All it takes is a little education to empower yourself in making good nutritional decisions to live a healthier life.”

Kapur said the blog isn’t about providing recipes. It’s about identifying problems and finding solutions. He considers Americans’ low-nutrition diets a problem. So how do you solve it?

‘Dieting’ not in his vocabulary

Kapur recently presented the program to about 50 doctors at Kaiser Permanente.

The first step: Don’t think in terms of “dieting” but in terms of “nutrition,” Kapur said. Dieting doesn’t work because the human body knows to store energy. The brain triggers hunger when people aren’t full. So a person will eat more, gain weight, get upset, try to diet and the cycle repeats.

“Dieting has never been in my lexicon, but nutrition is,” Kapur said.

He wants Americans to move away from “calorie-rich, low-nutrition, sugar-laden, high-sodium and free-radical producing junk foods.”

When he came to the United States from India in 1962, he didn’t see many obese people. But 66 percent of Americans today are overweight or obese. He advises people to read nutrition labels – and know what they mean.

“You can’t ban food any more than you can ban cigarettes or alcohol, but you can educate people out of bad food by showing the damage it does to their vital organs and bodies,” Kapur said.

Healthy on a budget

Kapur wants to dispel the myth that eating healthy is expensive. He also wants to ensure people of all economic means have access to nutritious food, so he’s started TheBagOfLife program, in which vegetarian meals are distributed for free to low-income families through food banks. He spent six months testing different dishes to make sure they are tasty, easy to prepare and affordable.

Kapur recently presented the program to about 50 doctors at Kaiser Permanente Roseville Medical Center.

“He’s been very, very interested in solving the problem of how to get excellent nutrition to those who can least afford it,” said Dr. Andrew Klonecke, chief of nuclear medicine at Kaiser Permanente in Sacramento and Roseville.

Teach your children

Nutrition is a family affair and because children often mimic their parents, adults must eat well, too, Kapur said.
“The change has to start with parents and grandparents,” he said.

One simple change: Don’t consider a trip to a fast-food restaurant a treat.

“When is feeding a kid saturated fat, sodium and sugar a treat?” Kapur said. “I think people should say, ‘When you do something bad, I’ll take you to fast food.'”

He suggests parents include their children in cooking homemade meals and, if possible, planting a vegetable garden in the backyard.

“If the child plants a tomato, he will eat that tomato,” Kapur said.

Sena Christian can be reached at senac@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow her on Twitter at SenaC_RsvPT.

To read Gopal Kapur’s nutrition blog or donate to The BagOfLife program, visit www.familygreensurvival.com.