The title prima-facie may appear a bit shocking, but yes, food and water are very essential for life. I used to consult a homeopath who won’t prescribe me medicine unless I produce a diet chart of at least seven preceding days. If I enlist “tea” in the morning, he will not be pleased but if I write “coffee” he will become angry and give me at least 15 minutes lecture. If I mention about having eaten vegetarian food, he will be happy but if I write “mutton”, he will produce quite a few certificates from his patients who voluntarily gave up non-vegetarian food. I stopped consulting him due to my inability to follow this strict regime on board. Nowadays, he has also started emphasizing on diet. Yes, what we eat is what we are, it determines our health.
On board ships we eat too much. We consume too much oily and spicy food and waste large quantities of food. Wasting food must be avoided. May people across the world, sleep half stomach or even empty stomach and we must be mindful of this. We should solemnly pray for a few seconds before commencing to eat to thank God for the food. We should serve only that much food in plate which we can finish. Adding extra salt or sugar should be avoided. On board, it becomes necessary to eat Chicken, mutton, beef, pork and fish but we should prefer Chicken and fish as compared to the others.
We must drink at least 2-3 litres of water every day (not too cold) and should not get habituated to soft drinks. It’s better to consume fruits instead of having fruit juice. An apple in the morning is good but if you have bananas then consume them together. We must keep our meat, fish and vegetable rooms clean and at minus 21 degree Celsius (cut off) and plus 4 degree Celsius (cut off) for vegetable room. Do not depend on ship chandlers alone to fetch you vegetables and fruits. When you go ashore in a group, look and buy directly from the market and carry it yourself. One of our German masters used to ask his steward to bring him his two cans of “green medicine” (the beer) for lunch. He will not eat anything but one can always change if he wants to. He eventually took a liking for fruit yoghurt.
There are certain things in “Ayurveda”, the most common, the cheapest and the best is “Triphala” tablets (it comes in powder form too but sticks to the throat causing coughing). Having two tablets with warm water after dinner solves many problems. I have been pleading with the Government of India to facilitate the availability of these medicines through small shops located inside the ports. And yes, Salmon Omega-3 and natural B (vitamin B complex), or suitable equivalents, should also be the companions of seamen. I don’t have any intention to dictate or promote anything through this article. Individual choices and regional specialties are worthy of respect.