Sumanto Chattopadhyay has always been enthusiastic about fitness. The senior advertising professional works out thrice a week at a gym, under the supervision of a personal trainer. He also practices capoeira, a Brazilian martial art involving intense aerobic workouts.
But until three years ago, Chattopadhyay's fitness regimen had a crucial link missing: a healthy diet. With his long work hours, most of his meals comprised junk food from restaurants, or greasy lunches from the office canteen. The food he ate countered his attempts to maintain an energetic, well-toned body, and he soon realised the need to strike a balance. For a solution, Chattopadhyay turned to LoveLunch - a tiffin service that delivers a wholesome meal of a salad, vegetables, meat and rice/rotis every weekday to offices across Mumbai.
Launched in 2007, LoveLunch is one of the several healthy tiffin services that have become popular in a city where people's work leaves them with little time to look after themselves.
“The tiffin works for me because it is neither boring diet food, nor the heavy, spicy, oily food available elsewhere,” said Chattopadhyay, whose tiffin is arranged in microwave-friendly containers and is delivered to his Goregaon office by a dabbawala.
Chattopadhyay says that the caterer's policy of using minimal oil and subtle spices may not be ideal for those with a typical Indian palate, but works well for those conscious of their health. “The balanced meal has kept me from going out and eating something unhealthy, and has helped control my weight,” Chattopadhyay said.
While LoveLunch's owner, Glenard Alves, does not specifically describe his catering service as a 'diet dabba' service, several other health-kitchens, have taken birth to answer the call for a fitness-friendly meal.
Santacruz-based Vital Foods, for instance, was founded seven years ago by dietician Sunali Parekh, as a means of helping working professionals who live away from their families and can't make the time to cook.
“I realised it was easy for me to advise, but very difficult for such people to get access to healthy food,” said Parekh, whose catering service offers regular meals, as well as diet meals customised as per every client's requirements. “My diet food uses multigrain rotis, organic brown rice, olive oil, and has no preservatives or artificial colours,” Parekh added.
For 46-year-old Sanjeev Lala, the switch to a healthy tiffin was part of a larger lifestyle transformation he chose to undergo after his divorce in 2002. With some help from a dietician, he shed excess weight, gave up smoking, started eating an all-fruit breakfast and five years ago, signed up for diet lunches. “After becoming single, I fell sick a few times and realised that keeping fit is more important than anything else,” said Lala.
“My cholesterol has stayed within limit ever since,” said Lala, a travel agent, who calls for his lunch at his office in Saki Naka and saves some up for a light dinner. The vegetarian meals during the week allow Lala to indulge himself over the weekend with some meat, eggs, or even a drink, without having to worry about his health.