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How to have happy meals

Fitness expert Namita Jain says you need to eat. How you eat, however, makes a difference. A good example: why dinner is the one meal you should take lightly.

health and fitness Updated: Jun 18, 2011 17:58 IST
Namita Jain
Namita Jain
Hindustan Times

Four-course balanced dinner plan
Your four-week countdown dinner is certainly about controlling portions and cutting excess fat, but you can hardly complain about feeling deprived! In fact, your dinner packs in tons of nutrition, as every bite is loaded with vitamins and minerals, proteins and carbs, and the recommended allowance of fats.

I earnestly request you to follow the diet as closely as possible, to get the best results. Remember, what you put in is what you will get out.

During your four-week countdown dinner, please remember to eat regularly, preferably no later than 9 pm (so that you don’t sleep on a full stomach). Do not eat more than the prescribed portions, but do not skip any courses either. Even if you feel full after the third course, it is essential to complete the entire dinner plan. This helps you avoid a midnight trip to the refrigerator, which is the last thing you want to do!

Fitness expert Namita Jain says you need to eat. How you eat, however, makes a difference. A good example: why dinner is the one meal you should take lightly

The idea is to feel satisfied, not stuffed, after you finish your four course dinner plan. Liquids, more liquids, solids, and a little bit of empty space.During dinner, you will be filling yourself with a liquid, then another slightly thicker liquid, followed by a portion of fibre, which works as a high water-content appetizer, and lastly, a main course. While the quality and quantity of your food is important, it is equally important to leave a little bit of space in your stomach empty. This allows the digestive juices to do their work efficiently.

¼ liquids ½ solids ¼ empty.

The initial consumption of liquids and fibre helps to quench your hunger pangs, so by the time you get to the main course, you are already beginning to feel full. This way it becomes easier to stay within the limits of the portion-controlled main course menu. Initially, you may find the extra liquid intake hard to handle but in a week’s time, you should settle down.

Remember, before you start your main course dinner, there are three mini courses you have to consume – Starter Sips, Nutri Bowl and Fibre Filler. These work as nutrition boosters and keep you feeling full.


Unlimited Starter Sips

Keep in mind that the Starter Sips are basically a negligible calorie, ‘drink as much as you want’, start to your meal. They consist of an unlimited amount of light, watery liquids to start you off. You gently whet your appetite by introducing an easy-to-digest liquid as your first course. It works as an initial filler and also aids digestion. Your stomach begins to get into gear.


Nutri Bowl 2 katoris (1 cup)

After you sip, you slurp! The Nutri Bowl is a more substantial course, to be consumed within the recommended serving allowance. This course is a more robust liquid, in the form of a soup (without cereals such as noodles, rice or pasta), veggie juice or low-cal buttermilk. It is heavier than the first course, and is a perfect follow up to the digestive liquid. All your Nutri Bowl options

come loaded with combinations of vitamins, minerals and proteins, and practically no fat. Varying Nutri Bowl choices on a daily basis gives you delicious variations.


Fibre Filler 2 katoris (1 cup)

Your third course, the Fibre Filler, puts you onto a fibre-rich, moisture-rich filler. Think juicy veggies, fruits, crisp sprouts, crunchy salads and you get the idea. The Fibre Filler must be chewed slowly and thoroughly, because the digestion process begins in your mouth itself.

This helps you properly absorb the valuable nutrients that are so good for you. Moreover, when you eat slowly, you feel like you are eating more, plus you give your taste buds full enjoyment!

Another bonus is that your Fibre Filler has very limited calories, making it a guilt-free munch and crunch.


Arriving at the main course

Many of you may not be used to consuming such high volumes of liquids or crunching through so much fibre! If all this really fills you up, take a breather before getting onto the Main Course. It is absolutely fine to have a gap between courses, no problem at all. You could even take a break after the Starter Sip or Nutri Bowl or after the Fibre Filler. Work the gaps as per your capacity and take time to savour every bit of your four-course Countdown dinner!

By the time you get to your Main Course, you will already begin to feel satisfied. This helps you to stay within the requirements of your diet dinner without a sense of being deprived.

Excerpted with permission from Penguin Books India from The Four-Week Countdown Diet: Now You Choose How You Lose by Namita Jain, Penguin R199

Dinner Formula
1. Starter Sips
2. Nutri Bowl
3. Fibre Filler
4. Main Course as per diet plan – Plan Minimum/Plan Medium/Plan Maximum

‘I have also battled with weight issues in my life’
What do you mean by The Four-Week Countdown Diet?
What I mean is that by the end of the fourth week, you’ll be settled in your eating plan. In week one, you clean up your dinner habits. In week two, you change your breakfast habits. Week three is for in-between meals and week four for lunch. So in four weeks, you’ll have eased into your diet plan. You’ll have created the habit.

Why start with dinner?
In the 20 years that I’ve worked with Bombay Hospital as a wellness specialist, and in my own experience, I realised that the most common diet blunders happen at dinner. You’re working during the day, then you come home and allow yourself to indulge. Or you catch up with friends for drinks and dinner and let yourself go. But dinner is a crucial meal – that’s the time your body needs the fewest calories because you’re going to sleep and your metabolism is slowing down. Dinner is the most important meal in any diet.

What if you have an erratic schedule?
The whole philosophy of the book is that you need to eat. You also have to remember that you need to make some effort towards getting results.

How did you work out this formula for weight loss?
Through my own experience – I have also battled with weight issues in my life – and by working with others, I tried to create a formula that works for good health. A lot of diets help you knock off weight, but they also make you lose hair or look sick. I feel as a wellness consultant, exercise and diet go hand in hand. It took me years of research to crack this book.

- From HT Brunch, June 19

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First Published: Jun 17, 2011 18:06 IST