If you thought Rujuta Diwekar is just the nutritionist responsible for Kareena Kapoor’s size zero, we wouldn’t hold it against you. We also went into this interview thinking just that.
Despite our reservations, the woman amazes us. Besides being the writer of bestsellers Don’t Lose Your Mind, Lose Your Weight and Women & the Weight Loss Tamasha, Diwekar is a celebrity, an intelligent one.
During a recent visit to Chandigarh to meet her in-laws in Kharar, Diwekar leaves you healthy, at least in your thoughts.The latest feather in her light cap is Shemaroo’s DVD, Indian Food Wisdom and the Art of Eating Right, which includes insights by Kareena Kapoor Khan, Saif Ali Khan, Richa Chadda, Anupam Kher and Karisma Kapoor. And thus begins the dialogue: "Shot at Rishikesh and Sonave, the DVD is a blend of ancient food wisdom and modern nutrition science.
It revives the lost art of ‘Oral Wisdom’, clears myths related to Indian and junk food, takes us back to the roots of Indian culture and helps us develop the philosophy of eating right. It highlights the importance of celebrating the taste of every morsel you eat.”
And then comes the revelation: “Our culture has thrown a lot of light on food. When I do lectures at Rishikesh Yoga Festivals, foreigners are amazed by Indians’ habit of eating right — simple and fresh food, that’s the mantra. That’s what modern nutritionists are saying too!”
According to Diwekar, Indian food wisdom differs substantially from the conventional weight loss system.
“The weight loss industry counts calories, Indian food wisdom counts pranas. The amount of ghee in one bowl of sabji would have the same number of calories as a small chocolate. But, what that ghee does to your body by bringing it joy is what matters. The key is to trust your tongue and stomach and not always curbing your cravings.”
For those who believe nutritionists know everything about nutritional value, Rujuta busts the myth. “One is smart enough to know where to stop eating; no one else can tell you that. Eating food in a wholesome manner, instead of dividing it into carbs and proteins, always helps.
Indian food has never been divided into carbs or fats. By adopting the English approach, we have ended up dividing our food. Suddenly, logon ne khana khana band kar diya, ab log carbohydrates khate hain, fats ingore karte hain, protiens kamm rakhte hai, which is boring! Banana, chiku and mango are considered fatty fruits.
So, what do you eat — berries and kiwis that don’t grow here? People are scared of eating homemade food. If you start counting calories of everything you consume, toh maza hi nahi aayega. Till you learn to enjoy food, you can’t lose weight. The simpler you eat, the more exotic you look,” Diwekar clarifies.
Talking about ‘nutrition transition’, she says, “We find makkai ki roti and sarson ka saag heavy and pasta light. Now, most of us have started preferring western food to local, fresh produce. At the same time, our physical activity has reduced. This has lead to nutrition transition, which not only makes one gain weight but also gives birth to problems such as diabetes, cancer, blood pressure, heart disease etc. Also, many of us think that if we’re rich, someone else would fetch us our water.”
Diwekar’s third book, Don’t Lose Out, Work Out, to be released in January 2014, also focuses on the same. “The book tackles various myths. I think people are unable to lose weight because they lose out on their priority. Inadequacies are a part of the everyday.
We don’t like our body. It’s high time we celebrate our beauty and understand that we are different than those celebrities in magazines. Secondly, they take health for granted. They don’t eat for the longest time and when they eat, they don’t stop! We should eat more often. Eating small meals doesn’t mean eating roti sabji and dal every time.
Fruits, lassi, sharbat etc are also meals. And, in our country, when our financial status goes up, our physical activity goes down. Also, people take medicines for every little thing. If exercise were a pill, it would be very popular! It only takes 150 minutes, which is two hours and 20 minutes, per week to stay fit.”
Talking about her most popular client, Kareena Kapoor Khan, she says, “Kareena eats typical Punjabi khana — a parantha every morning and the normal roti, dal and sabji for meals. That’s why her stomach never looks bloated. I also believe the Punjab government should do something about Punjabi food’s image. Punjabi food is considered the most fattening because of its improper representation.
You eat just about anything at restaurants and term it Punjabi! There is no Punjabi household that makes Paneer Butter Masala. In most Punjabi homes, kaddu and bhindi are staples. Parantha is the healthiest form of food when eaten with ghee, fresh butter or malai.
When your body gets what it needs, it actually helps us lose weight. Makki ki roti and sarson ka saag again are considered heavy, but it’s actually a fiber-rich meal; one gets adequate vitamin D from it, besides relief from cracked lips and skin. Punjabis should never buy butter from outside when they can make white butter at home.”
Tips for working professionals:
Don’t leave home without eating. Having homemade food as the first meal is very beneficial for the system.
Carry a handful of dry fruits, makhanas or groundnuts with you.
You can get fresh fruits anywhere. Eat them when hungry
One can always carry a roti-sabji wrap.