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The importance of a no-diet regime

Today is Int'l No Diet Day. So, switch off that calorie calculator and don’t starve yourself to get into perfect shape. Sai Raje offers you a helping hand in following a dietless regime.

health-and-fitness Updated: May 06, 2008, 11:51 IST
Sai Raje
Sai Raje
Hindustan Times

Wow, so there actually is an International No Diet Day? Yes, but before you reachout for that large pizza with extra cheese, you should know that this isn’t exactly stuff-yourself-all-you-can day.

Rather, it’s about pausing in the process of chasing that perfect figure tomake sure weight-loss dieting hasn’t turned into a crazy obsession.

More importantly, it’s about learning how to diet right. Take 29-year-old software engineer Manasi Joshi for instance. Just five kg away from her ideal bodyweight, she plunged into dieting, without knowing how to do it correctly.

The International No Diet Day pledge

I will not diet for one day, on May 6, International No Diet Day.

Instead of trying to change my body
to fit someone else's standards, I will accept myself just as I am.

I will feed myself if I am hungry.

I will feel no shame or guilt about
my size or about eating.

I will think about whether dieting
has improved my health and wellbeing or not.

And I will try to do at least one thing I have been putting off until I lose weight.


“I drastically cut down on what I ate through the day and would most often end up skipping breakfast,”she says.

“I thought eating salads and fruits was all I had to do to burn the extra fat. But by the end of a hectic day atwork, I would feel just so weak. I did lose five kilos in a month.”

But then she just couldn’t sustain the punishing starvation diet. “I began eating junk food again and all my weight came right back. That’s when I knew I needed a healthy diet,” she adds.

Joshi has since begun exercising regularly and dieting sensibly with the help of her gym instructor to lose all her extra weight.

Joshi is lucky to have got her weight back on track. Quite a few diet-obsessed people take the extreme route and end up with an eating disorder.

At 21, Shruti Mishra weighed 92 kg and snide remarks from family and friends about her excess weight hurt her a lot. Her self-esteem took a nosedive and she started eating more junk food for comfort. Then the bulimia took over.

After every snack or meal, she would quietly slip into the loo and forcefully vomit whatever she had eaten.

In a few months time, Shruti's weight had dropped sharply to 70 kg and she started feeling weak. But timely counselling from a therapist, coupled with a nutritionist's advice helped her regain her health.

A constant preoccupation with dieting and losing extra weight is what leads people to fad or crash diets because they promiseweight loss in a jiffy.

Fad diets, in a nutshell, are those that drastically cut down on food intake or tend to advise eating just one type of nutrient as opposed to meals balanced in all nutrients, says Rujuta Mehta, a nutritionist at IPC Heart Care Centre in Andheri.

A few crazy fad diets
Steer clear of these:
The General Motors diet: Involves eating just one type of food on a given day. So you eat only fruits onMondays, vegetables on Tuesdays, all fruits and vegetables on Wednesday, eight bananas and three glasses of milk on Thursday, four meat steaks with vegetables on Friday and Saturday and brown rice, fruit juices and all the vegetables you can on Sunday.

Metabolism diet:
This one just involves having black coffee or tea (no sugar), hard-boiled eggs,meat steak, mozzarella cheese, yoghurt and celery or lettuce in miniscule portions and combinations through theweek.

The Hollywood miracle 48-hour diet:
It is the craziest of all fad diets. It claims that you will lose up to five kg in 48 hours. It is basically just a juice fast. An essential part of the diet is a miracle juice a blend of vitamins, fruits, minerals, antioxidants and essential oils. Like most rapid weight loss, you lose water and toxins rather than fat.

Fad diets do you more harm than good
For starters, fad diets never have the right balance of all the nutrients that your body needs. Crash diets can hence cause deficiencies of some nutrients or vitamins in your system, says Mehta.

If your fad diet is deficient in protein, your body will make up for it by making its own protein by taking it from your muscles thus leading to a muscle breakdown. These diets do help you lose weight, but only temporarily, she says. As soon as you go off that diet, the weight is going to spring right.

Weight loss is no miracle, says dieticianPreethi Rahul. ¡°You took a lot of time gaining all those kilos. It is going to take a while to lose all that flab. So never rush into a fad diet for fast results.

Why are we so obsessed with weight-loss diets?
There may be a range of reasons. The need to adhere to standards of beauty set by your family or the society you live in is often central to wanting to lose weight, feels psychiatrist Dr Harish Shetty.

The need to look nice sets in as early as when you are five or sixyears old,he says. Media portrayals of only a particular kind of a body being considered attractive and peer pressure add on to the need to lose weight to look nice.

Moreover, there are chances of an obsession with weight loss leading to an eating disorder if the need to diet is encouraged by peers or family.

Many people with eating disorders though break free and go on to lead normal lives again, adds Shetty.

Five common diet mistakes we make
Skip breakfast:
We all have an excuse ready, There is just no time or I can never eat so early in the mornings. That does you more harmthan good, says dietician and personal trainer,Anagha Ambekar, who runs her own gym in Dombivli.

Eat less through the day, but hoard up dinner:
If you think you did yourself a great favour by not eating all the junk food outside and came home and had a really heavy dinner, you are wrong. Dinner is supposed to be the lightest meal of your day, says Ambekar. Indulging too much in soft drinks or alcohol: They leave you with way more sugar than your body needs.

Sugar is composed of just carbohydrates. And if you aren¡¯t burning themwith regular exercise, they will turn to fat and add on to yourweight, says dietician Preethi Rahul.

Only dieting:
Diet coupled with daily exercise is a better way to lose weight, saysMehta.

Unrealistic goals:
If you try to lose too much weight too soon, you will lose the motivation to stick to your diet. Set achievable weight-loss goals. It i smuch easier to stickwith something when you see it's working.

Tips to follow before you go on a diet
If you don't know much about healthy dieting, get some advice from an expert like a dietician or a nutritionist.

Don't chalk out a diet plan on your own. Never skip breakfast or any other meal. You need that energy surge to kickstart your day.

Have six small meals in the day rather than three large ones. Carry a fruit with you for hunger pangs betweenmealtimes.

Drink lots of water: 6-8 glasses a day should do. Gorge on fresh vegetables. Exercise along with dieting. A brisk 30-minute walk is just fine. Simple rules never fail. Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dine like a pauper. Happy no dieting for today!

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