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Diet, but not before you try it

You’ve decided to get healthy by going on a diet. But before you empty the kitchen and your fridge of all your regular foods and replace them with low-fat alternatives, here's some advice.

brunch Updated: Feb 16, 2013 19:21 IST
Kasturi Gandhi

You’ve decided to get healthy by going on a diet. But before you empty the kitchen and your fridge of all your regular foods and replace them with low-fat alternatives, here's some advice. “Plunging headfirst into a diet isn’t a good idea,” says nutritionist Rima Rao. “You need to test the waters first.” What Rao means is that you first need to prepare your system before you change your eating habits. Suddenly switching to a liquid-only diet will never work. “If you do this, your stomach won’t feel satiated and you’ll remain hungry,” she says. But gradually including semi-solid foods in your meals will attune your body and appetite for what is to follow. That will also clear the way for the good food and fibre. “They help to detoxify the body of accumulated food residue,” explains Rao. “This is why whole fruits are recommended over fruit juices.” So next time there’s khichdi for dinner, don’t cringe. It’s a great pre-diet meal.

saladNo cold turkey

Smart dieters know that giving up your favourite foods never help. Deprivation is the worst kind of meal plan, believes consultant nutritionist Niti Desai. "Skipping meals when you’re gearing up for a healthy life lowers your metabolic rate. Which means that when you eat, even healthy food will add to those kilos," she says.

So instead of looking longingly at that pack of Lindt, focus on burning up calories. You can still indulge yourself in moderation. Switch from a whole bar of milk chocolate to a few bites of 75-80 per cent dark chocolate. And say cheers to nursing one glass of red wine instead of a couple of pints of beer.

Meanwhile, include ‘good carbs’ like fruit, veggies and pulses. "When someone wants to lose weight in a month, we can’t start with the basic stuff," says Vidisha Munim, a master instructor with Gold’s Gym. "The diet includes protein, fibre and low carbs alongside low-intensity workouts."

Baby steps on the treadmill
The best diets are those that are accompanied by an exercise regime. And just as you should ease into a diet, Munim advises a smooth initiation into a workout routine too. “For those who’ve never gone jogging in their life, the first couple of weeks should include basic training – cardio, stretching and weights.” Not only does this minimise the risk of muscle strain, it gets a person adjusted to the idea of exercising before the really serious regime kicks in.Full-on exercise sessions need prep too. You need to master your breathing techniques so that you don’t start gasping for air a few seconds into the workout.

Kalpesh Vinerkar, a fitness trainer who has worked with Kangna Ranaut, explains that this is where basic breathing skills work. “If the exercise involves pulling muscles, you exhale and while controlling your muscles, you inhale.”

Ideally, a high-intensity workout is best done at the end of the week so you can rest your muscles. So if you’ve scheduled a workout on Saturday, spend your Sunday lounging around doing nothing more strenuous than reading HT Brunch! Once you’ve built up muscle endurance, you can move to a higher training level.

Surface tension
Just because you’ve got your food and exercise sorted does not mean you’re completely ready. If you want to look fabulous, your skin needs to look great too. “Dieting adversely affects your skin,” says nutritionist Anjuri Khanna. “To avoid that, eat a lot of fresh fruits and salads with minimal dressing before you even start a new diet. Chomping on fruits will not only ease you into a new chapter in eating right, it will keep your skin blemish free.”

Balance your exercise routine between cardio and weight loss training, and keep yourself hydrated. “That is the trick to avoid stretch marks and sagging skin once you lose weight,” says Aditi Dhumatkar, an international-level swimmer. Because she spends hours training in chlorine water daily, she needs to work on her hair and skin. “I swear by a good moisturiser and frequent oil massages.”

Spice it up!
Eating healthy can get really boring. Dietician Kinjal Shah has a few recipes that’ll give you a good break from broccoli and soup without compromising on health.

StrawberryHoney and yoghurt with fresh fruit

Treat yourself to this quickie dessert. It’s yummy and rich in calcium and protein

Ingredients (makes three cups)
2 cups curd (made from skim milk)
2 cups curd (made from cow’s milk)
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1 cup freshly cut fruits

Put curd in a strainer or tie in a muslin cloth for 10 minutes.
Transfer into a bowl and serve with freshly cut fruits and honey.

Spring roll wraps
Not having your favourite Chinese food for a long time can be very upsetting. Jot down this roll recipe for a high protein and
fibre wrap. If you want some calcium to go with it, just add tofu.

Spring rollIngredients (makes six wraps)

3/4th cup cabbage (shredded)

½ cup carrots (julienned)

½ cup French beans (sliced diagonally)

1 large onion (sliced)

1/4th cup beans sprouts/tofu

2 green chillies (finely chopped)

½ tsp ginger (finely chopped)

1 tsp garlic (finely chopped)

2 Kashmiri chillies

1 tsp vinegar

1 tsp soy sauce

1 tbsp hot and sweet sauce

1 tbsp oil

Blanch carrot and French beans in boiling water for about 10 minutes.
Heat the oil in a pan and sauté Kashmiri chillies, garlic, ginger and green chillies.
Add onion, cabbage and bean sprouts and sauté for five minutes.
Add boiled carrots, French beans, vinegar, soy sauce and salt. Allow it to cook for few a more minutes.
Spread this stuffing on rotis.
Serving size: 1 ½ – 2 wraps
Note: Rotis from the wrap to be made from wheat flour.

From HT Brunch, February 17

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