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Updated: August 3, 2013 19:19 IST

‘Food is not our enemy’

Madhumitha Srinivasan
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Fitness Trainer Rujuta Diwekar. Photo: R.V. Moorthy
The Hindu Fitness Trainer Rujuta Diwekar. Photo: R.V. Moorthy

With the release of a new DVD on eating right, nutritionist Rujuta Diwekar reveals why grandma’s advice is the best.

She’s been in the spotlight ever since Kareena Kapoor showed-off her size-zero body in Tashan five years ago. Nutritionist Rujuta Diwekar has not just added a new word to the dictionary but has also revived grandma’s words of wisdom about food and holistic living to the relief of hordes of starving dieters.

“Food is my favourite topic in life,” she confesses in her Indian Food Wisdom and the Art of Eating Right, a DVD launched last week, and goes on to bust a lot of myths associated with food and nutrition. “If there were no myths I wouldn’t have a career,” says Rujuta, also the author of the best-seller Don’t Lose Your Mind, Lose Your Weight and Women & The Weight Loss Tamasha. Excerpts from an interview:

How do you deal with being called a celebrity nutritionist?

Though I have been working since 1999, what really helped get my work out to people was Kareena Kapoor talking about it. When she spoke, people took notice. As far as being a celebrity nutritionist goes, if I am honest with my work, any label is irrelevant.

Your advice is in complete contrast to what nutritionists/dieticians tell us.

Traditionally, we have always believed in whatever I now say. When our grandmothers said it, there was no glam factor backing it up. When you have some of the biggest Bollywood stars backing you, I guess people sit up and take notice.

None of these ideas I talk about is alien to us. Counting calories, reducing portion size, giving up dinners… these are the alien ones.

It’s so much simpler to relish every bite you eat and stay in good shape, because food is really not our enemy.

How did you develop this concept?

I didn’t develop it; it has always been there. Moreover, when I was studying sports science and nutrition there was a disconnect between what they taught and what we followed in real life.

I also started learning Yoga and Ayurveda at Rishikesh and Uttarkashi and I realised that we are all human beings and not machines.

Many say your book was a hit with people was because of its casual tone. Was that a deliberate move?

That’s because I am a bit of an idiot. I am not one of those smart and intelligent people. I never really read any books. I write the way I talk. Now that has become a style (of writing), but for me there was no other option. I didn’t know how to write technically and technical writing bores me. It has to appeal to me first. I have something against making food sound technical and scientific.

What are the signs of good health?

You have a regular day at work, but you feel excessively tired at the end of the day. You don’t feel like waking up or pursuing a hobby; you plan to meet a friend but come up with excuses. You want to exercise, but you do not. You want to change your job, but you do not. These are signs that you are not at your optimum health. Our body is so sensitive that the minute we are even marginally off track or off balance our body tells us. The point is: are we listening?

What are the common mistakes that people make when it comes to food?

Looking for things that are low in calories and fat; things which are convenient to prepare (like instant food) and things are labelled diet food.

People don’t trust their stomachs.

I just came back from New York and the latest food fad there is ancient grains. The most ancient grain India has had since the Harappan civilisation is the rice.

But what is our perception about rice? That rice makes us fat!

Now the West is packaging rice and all the grains we’ve always eaten into crackers, puffs and bars while adding salt and preservatives.

Don’t we need to change our view about who is a healthy person?

We need to start seeing how beautiful we really are. When we look at ourselves in the mirror, most of us see at least five things wrong. We are so conditioned to comply with the current standard of beauty that we have failed to understand that we cannot look like each other. We can only look like our own glorious selves.

When we accept ourselves completely and unconditionally, people around us do too. As Saif (Ali Khan) always says, happy people are the most attractive.

What is your DVD about?

It is called Indian Food Wisdom and the Art of Eating Right. Our ancient wisdom is almost a study of our food over generations. It tells you how, what and when to eat, and disproves some common myths associated with food. It talks about how we need to stop counting calories and start counting the prana or how fresh your food is. It’s all about trusting your stomach and eating local food. We have no business eating a kiwi fruit in India.

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