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Make eating right a way of life

Following good eating habits can be tough when you start, but once the results begin to show, you will be hooked

india Updated: Sep 07, 2011 15:16 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-yearold 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.

Diet Charts

Try out these meal options suggested by Sneha Hoonjan, chief dietician at Hinduja hospital.

Never skip the most important meal of the day.
People who eat breakfast have 35% to 40% lower risk of developing obesity and metabolic syndrome compared to those who skip breakfast. An ideal breakfast should include protein, carbohydrate, vitamins and minerals.

. 1 cup of milk / 1 egg / 1 katori curd +
. 1 serving of vegetable upma/ poha or wheat flakes/muesli with milk,multigrain toast or stuffed roti with curd or toasted sandwiches +
. 1 serving fruit or unstrained fresh juice

Having a wholesome meal comprising all food groups is important. There should be plenty of vegetables in the form of salads and soups. It’s also important to have protein foods such as dals, sprouts, lean portions of chicken, fish and egg whites.

Stuffed roti + dal/ paneer/ vegetable + curd/ raita + fruit
. Vegetable pulao / Soya pulao / Sprouts pulao + raita / curd + salad
. 1 chicken sandwich or / vegetable paneer sandwich / egg grilled sandwich using whole wheat bread / multigrain bread + fruit
. Whole wheat pasta with plenty of vegetables (in tomato-based sauce with less cheese) + fruit yogurt

Eating small meals is a smarter way of eating.
Have a snack to ensure the gap between two meals is not long

. A handful of nuts such as almonds / walnuts / roasted chana or
. Vegetable sandwich or
. Roasted kurmura bhel (without the sev) or
. Baked soya puff or
. Steamed idli / dhokla / muthiya

If you have a sedentary lifestyle and are low on physical activity, keep your dinner light. If you’re watching your weight, concentrate more on vegetables and reduce cereal consumption. To satisfy hunger, have larger portions of soups or salads.

Chapati / bhakri +
. Dal / sprouts / leans portions of chicken / fish, preferably in gravy / grilled / steamed +
. A serving of vegetables (avoiding too much of roots such as potato, yam, arbi. Incorporate plenty of green leafy vegetables) +
. Curd +
. Plenty of salads

Diet Recommendations
Keep Yourself Hydrated:
Drink plenty of water, coconut water, lime water, buttermilk, soups.
Restrict Intake of salt and sugar: Avoid sugary products or keep them to a minimum. Avoid adding salt over food at the dinner table, avoid too much papads, pickles, chutneys.
Keep caffeine consumption to a minimum: No more than 2 cups of tea / coffee a day. Too much caffeine can leave you dehydrated.
Increase intake of antioxidants: Have more of fish rich in omega 3 essential fatty acids, including salmon, mackerel, or eat flaxseeds or walnuts.

Dietfads what they do and what they don’t

Atkins Diet
Atkins is a low-carbohydrate diet that focuses on consumption of high-protein foods such as fish and vegetables. Dieters are encouraged to eat foods fried in olive oil and grape-seed oil instead of those fried in corn and sunflower oil. It is a fourphase diet.

It’s not effective for longterm weight loss, say critics. While focusing on a high-protein diet, dieters might end up eating foods high in cholesterol and fat.

Celebrity dieter: Al Gore

The baby food diet
It essentially involves swapping high-calorie snacks and eating baby food instead, with the focus on cutting back on the number of calories consumed daily. The plan involves eating 14 portions of puréed food (generally fruits and vegetables) every day, followed by a normal-portioned dinner.

Adults have different digestive systems and need different amount of vitamins, minerals and nutrients compared to infants.

Celebrity dieter:
Ceryl Cole

Dukan Diet
The protein-rich Dukan diet promises weight loss of up to 15kg in a few weeks by eating as much as you want, as long as it is mostly meat, fish and fat-free cheese. A four-phase diet, it involves fewer calories than you would consume on a daily basis.

Eating just protein in the first phase can cause constipation since there is no fibre to aid digestion. Drastically reducing carbohydrate intake may also reduce energy and blood-sugar levels.

Celebrity dieter: Kate Middleton

Grape Fruit Diet
Also known as the Hollywood diet, it usually involves eating half a grapefruit or drinking grapefruit juice with each meal and significantly reducing calorie intake, often to below 800 calories a day. It’s a low-carbohydrate diet based on the premise that grapefruit helps burn body fat. Breads, potatoes, processed foods are off limits.

Experts say it is not nutritious. Dieters might also end up putting on the weight they lose after coming off the diet.

Celebrity dieter: Kylie Minogue

Sonoma Diet
Based on a ‘Mediterranean style of eating’, the plan consists of managing portion sizes. Dieters need to plan their meals around 10 items known as power foods: whole grains, almonds, bell peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, grapes, spinach, blueberries, strawberries and olive oil.

The extreme carbohydrate restriction in the first two weeks requires will power and may leave dieters weak. Eliminating all carbohydrates also inhibits good sources of fibre, vitamins and minerals.

Celebrity dieter: Jessica Alba

The South Beach Diet
It focuses on a healthy balance between carbohydrates and fats – socalled ‘good carbs’ and fats. Highly processed foods like baked items, breads, sweets, and soft drinks are off limits. Divided into three phases, the diet gradually reintroduces some initially forbidden foods.

Weight loss is not permanent. Moreover, critics have pointed out how the diet ignores nutritional requirements and wrongly promotes some kinds of carbohydrates as good carbs.

Celebrity dieter: Nicole Kidman

The Master Cleanse Diet
Also known as the Lemonade Diet or Maple Syrup Diet, this is a three-part diet that begins with a drink of water, followed by six to 12 glasses of lemonade and a cup of herbal tea in the evening. The diet aims to detoxify the body and purge excess fat.

Critics point out that the diet lacks many essential nutrients, including proteins, which may result in headaches in the short-term. Prolonged fasting could also lead to nausea, mood swings and hair loss.

Celebrity dieter: Beyonce Knowles

The Cabbage Soup Diet
A radical weight loss diet, it involves heavy consumption of nothing but low-calorie cabbage soup over a seven-day period. The low-fat, high-fibre diet claims to ensure the loss of 4.5 kg in the space of a week.

Dieters lose weight quickly, but tend to put it back on after coming off the diet. Their protein intake is also low, which means the body is forced to break down both muscle and tissue in the process.

Celebrity dieter: Sarah Michelle Gellar

The Fat Flush Diet
This is a combination of weight loss and detoxification. It is a low-carbohydrate, restricted-calorie diet, designed to boost metabolism, decrease water retention, and promote loss of fat. The threephase diet involves cleansing the body, after which forbidden foods are gradually reintroduced. These include caffeine, cold drinks, sugar, breads, cereals and grains.

The calorie intake in the first phase may be too low for some and lowered calorie levels could slow down metabolism instead of quickening it.

Celebrity dieter: Halle Berry

The Raw Food Diet
As the name suggests, it is largely based on eating uncooked foods. Cooking is thought to counter the enzymes present in the food, requiring the body to produce more enzymes. Raw foodists typically consume low-fat foods such as fruits, vegetables and nuts.

Cooking often helps destroy harmful microorganisms. Also, some items release more nutrients when cooked.

Celebrity dieter: Demi Moore

(Compiled by Bhavya Dore)