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Make eating right a way of life

Jaanvi Hansrajani’s day would begin with bread pakodas or samosas. By the time she was in her 20s, Hansrajani was almost 70 kg at 5.4 inches. As she entered her 30s, she crossed the 80-kg mark.

mumbai Updated: Aug 27, 2011 01:27 IST
Kiran Wadhwa & Bhavya Dore

Jaanvi Hansrajani’s day would begin with bread pakodas or samosas. By the time she was in her 20s, Hansrajani was almost 70 kg at 5.4 inches. As she entered her 30s, she crossed the 80-kg mark.

Today, at 38, the mother of one has never been healthier or looked better.

“Two years ago, I felt enough was enough. My knees were giving away because of the excess weight. Everyone around me was wearing jeans and I was the only one in salwar kameez. I was tired of being fat, unfit and feeling out of place,” said the Juhu resident.

In 18 months, Hansrajani lost 25 kg; today she weighs 58 kg. While Hansrajani works out regularly, she gives equal, if not more, importance to eating right. And by eating right she does not mean starving herself.

Hansrajani eats three bowls of vegetables, five rotis, one bowl of rice, egg whites, fruits and five biscuits every day and also occasionally cheats and eats samosa and chutney.

“I used to have something fried every meal, but I don’t miss it anymore. Initially it was tough, but losing the first few kilos was motivating,” said Hansrajani. “Eating right is a way of life, not a chore. I enjoy cooking and innovating healthy food. I make chicken makhanwala without the makhan and it is tasty.”

Her trick, she said, was to eat small meals every two hours.

While eating right can be tough when you begin with it, everyone who has made that switch swears that once the results show, you are hooked.

You don’t need to go to a dietician to have a diet plan; with a little bit of research and experimentation, you can stay in shape. So, while Hansrajani went to a dietician, Tejal Thakore figured out what suits her best through trial and error.

“After reading, talking to people and some experimentation, I figured what suited me best,” said the 45-year-old who weighs 56 kg and has a wardrobe and stamina that match her 20-year-old daughter’s. “From Monday to Friday, I eat healthy and on weekends I party. There is nothing I don’t eat.”

In the morning, till 12.30pm, Thakore is on fruits. At 1.30pm she has lunch, which consists of the usual dal, roti, vegetable, salad and chhaas. In the evening, she has some dry fruits and eats dinner at 7.30pm as a rule. Dinner can even be homemade paani puri or pav bhaji.

“I exercise too. But it is not a hardcore workout at the gym. I do things that I enjoy such as street dancing, spinning and other physical activity,” said Thakore.

Establishing a correct relationship with food is the first step to eating right, said Pooja Makhija, consultant nutritionist at Nourish in Khar. In the field for the last 14 years, Makhija has created diet plans for more than 10,000 people. “Most people fear food. Their association with food is calories and being fat and unfit. People have to understand we are what we eat and there are some things we can eat often and some things we can’t,” said Makhija.

Her mantra for getting it right is to eat small, healthy meals every two hours, not pile up the calories and to do some form of exercise four to five times a week. This can easily be an evening walk.

“Often, we end up eating when we are thirsty. The thirst and hunger centres are located close to each other in the brain, so often we misperceive thirst as hunger. So we must drink enough water and stay hydrated,” Makhija said.

Diet plans are not just for those who have the time. For Shashank Mehta, an investment banker with crazy hours and several social events, eating right is a little tougher. “I go out on business lunches and dinners four times a week. But I make sure I order a broth or steamed fish or chicken. I have also cut down on my alcohol intake. Agreed, the fun of partying has reduced, but my health is important,” said the 36-year-old who has high cholesterol and triglycerides.

Mehta now follows a strict diet and carries a lunch dabba to work, apart from attending a yoga class and going for a morning swim. He has lost six kg and is 82 kg.

While Mehta carries one lunch dabba to work, Farzana Fazelbhoy carries five little dabbas to work. For the longest time, Fazelbhoy would walk to her workplace in Bandra with her large food bag. “I eat every two hours. It can be crackers or fruit, but I ensure I eat often and on time,” said the 52-year-old who weighs 57 kg.

Her biggest jolt was when she put on 15 kg in the US. She came back in 2007 and decided to get in shape. “I tried quick-fix diets such as the Atkins, but my blood sugar shot up so I realised that eating right has to be a lifestyle and not something I can do for some time,” said Fazelbhoy.