She has Bollywood’s star couple Kareena and Saif (as well as many others) on her client roster, but dietician Rujuta Diwekar is very down to earth when she walks into Pali Village Café in Bandra, Mumbai, for her date with Brunch. Rather than pick a restaurant with a loaded buffet table, Diwekar has chosen one that interprets its Sunday brunch as being open for a longer duration, and allows customers to sit over their meals and relish them – all in keeping with the advice she dishes out this afternoon and in her latest book – Women and the Weight Loss Tamasha. After placing her order of salad and a pasta, Diwekar settles down to answer our questions. Excerpts from the conversation:
You’ve already written Don’t Lose Your Mind, Lose Your Weight. What was the impetus for this one?
I wrote this book specifically for women, when I realised that there was zero information out there. There is a terrible helplessness that women seem to have about their bodies and their hormones, and we fear rather than celebrate every stage of our life. Most women are upset by or ashamed of their bodies. Even though food is the most intimate relationship you will have, women increasingly stop feeding food to themselves and fall into this bottomless downward spiral. But there is no reason for all thisWhy women, and it need not happen to any one of us.
More than that, I felt terrible that more money and education does not translate into better health for women. I felt there was an urgent need to talk about these issues rationally and communicate my knowledge. Kareena too is always on board when it comes to using the power of her celebrity to get the message out there.
In this age of abundance, how can one discipline oneself to make good food choices?
I don’t necessarily think that more choice is a bad thing. In fact, more choices should improve our chances of eating right. Actually, our parents were more sorted about this, so it made it easier for us to eat right. Right now, what happens is that a lot of us eat out because we are tired of cooking, are in a bad mood, because the bai didn’t arrive, it’s not because we are celebrating something, which is why we went to restaurants in the past. Don’t eat out mindlessly.
You advise eating dinner around 7.30 pm. How is that possible given our crazy schedules?
Rethink dinner – why does it always have to be seen in terms of food, TV and home? If you cannot leave the office by 7.30 pm, then figure out a way to get dinner to you at office. If you are a successful executive, then problem solve the question of how to eat dinner on time as well.
How does one deal with the conflicting advice dished out about diets and food?
I think there is a real need to value our native wisdom when it comes to cooking and celebrate the fact that cooking styles in India are so different. Every religion has a food prayer, and that’s just to tell you bakwaas band karo, theek se khao. As for nutrition and diet advice, most of it comes from the West and it’s making us not value the foods that we have. The weight loss industry wants us to be confused and ill informed. Also, advice is always going to be conflicting, but remember, your stomach will tell you the truth.
As a woman, how does one tackle the situation if your husband and kids won’t cooperate with your efforts to eat healthily?
Don’t coerce them. Lead by example, do it guilt-free. As a woman, your biggest responsibility is to yourself. Once your family sees
the change in your energy levels, everything will change.
Any famous last words?
Too many of us are overworked, tired and undernourished, and need to take a break. Remember that we do better when we are at peace. And don’t judge food by its calorie count. We say age is not a number, so why is food a number? Finally, ensure your diet takes into account your genes, geography, lifestyle, emotional status, fitness history, likes, dislikes, festivals, kitchen.
At a restaurant...
Choose wisely: Pick items off an a la carte menu rather than a buffet.
Eat fresh food: Pick a restaurant that features a lot of fresh food and food made healthily.
Make decisions before you go out: Stick to your choices when you place your order.
Relish your food: When you stuff yourself, you have a sensory overload, which generally results in a bad stomach or you feeling sick.
Decide if you are going to eat dessert: Don’t go from salads to desserts. Your stomach has not got its due of carbs, proteins, etc. Ideally, you should eat dessert two hours after a meal.
From HT Brunch, January 16
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