You can run. But you can’t hide. Salad bars, jogging dates and zumba parties: this is the age of skinny. Of soups, sprouts and sushi. As people get increasingly conscious about their appearance, it looks like the days of decadence are well behind us. Fortunately, new-age fitness isn’t about renouncing the world. It’s about finding practical ways to eat out, socialise, party and still fit into your — dare we say it — college jeans. How do you do it? Take some tips from the pros, says SHONALI MUTHALALY
Rujuta Diwekar, Celebrity nutritionist. Bestselling author.
Stick to one cuisine. Wedding buffets have at least seven nowadays. So, pre-plan. If you’re eating Lebanese, then don’t even look at the rest of the counters. The ambience is designed to make you eat. Besides, buffet food invariably looks way better than it tastes. At a destination wedding, eat the local food. And pick just two or maximum three items.
Avoid the salad bar. Especially at night. The vegetables were probably cut 4-5 hours earlier. You’ll notice everyone at the salad bar is fatter than you would like to be. Partly because these salads can be difficult to digest. Partly because you’ll probably still be dissatisfied when you’re done. Pick the tastiest meal — it’ll also be the easiest to digest.
When you’re going out 4 to 5 times a week, decide in advance where you will have dessert. Pick one place, and eat dessert just once. The same goes for alcohol. Choose the day that you plan to drink. Don’t kid yourself about wine being good for the heart. Peanuts are better.
Fasting and feasting: It’s a great way to get fat. And this fat is difficult to get off. Don’t starve through the day. Once you’re at the party, always be the first to eat. By moving towards the food counters and helping yourself, you influence the others to start eating. Otherwise you’ll end up having dinner at 1 a.m.
Vidya Singh, Wedding Planner.
I go out 4 to 5 times a week. When I’m out, I’ll definitely eat. But I make sensible choices. I have learned to do that over the years. It’s not a question of more options being available. You need to check the menu, and find something nutritious.
For example, at last night’s party, I ate laksa. At an Italian restaurant, I’ll order aglio olio pasta, with vegetables. If it’s a Chinese restaurant, I’ll have something like egg fried rice and tofu. At Coffee Day, I have iced cappuccino. It’s just ice and coffee, no ice cream.
As a wedding planner, I end up eating a number of wedding lunches. The South Indian ela saapad is never a problem. It’s well balanced: raw salads, vegetables, yoghurt. I’m a rice eater. I need the nutrition since I exercise regularly: swim twice a week, go horse riding once a week, take long walks, use the gym...
Daily food habits matter. I don’t drink tea or coffee. I eat a lot of fruit and raw vegetables. Breakfast is always at home. Papaya everyday. Then muesli or oats with skimmed milk. I’m totally vegetarian. So I make sure I get enough protein: a cup of skimmed milk and yoghurt every day.
I’m going out tonight for dinner. So I’ll have a light lunch. Something like broccoli, pepper and mushrooms with pesto. Served with barley or quinoa. Then, I’ll eat a salad at home before I go: sprouts with raw mango and raw tomato, with a lemon and pepper dressing. This way I am not starving to death when I go for dinner.
Ajit Shetty: Trainer to the stars. Founder of Score Gym.
I know many people who don’t eat at all, thinking they will compensate for the night’s binge that way. But they end up doing themselves more harm because they’re so hungry by dinner time that they make all the wrong choices and overeat.
Have something light before you leave. A clear chicken soup keeps me going. At parties avoid fried food and alcohol. Alcohol slows your metabolism.
I have clients who call from a party to ask me what to eat. I ask them to tell me what’s available, and we figure it out. Making the right choices gets easier with practice. You see a lot of healthy items on offer now, which makes it easier. If you eat out 3 to 4 times a week, make an effort to eat light. If it’s Chinese food, have steamed fish. If it’s continental, pasta with an olive oil base, and vegetables. And eat a small portion.
Make sure you work out at least three times a week. Do 30 to 45 minutes of high-intensity cardio and some strength training.
Make fruits like pomegranate, pineapple and papaya a part of your diet. Drink at least 4 – 5 litres of water a day. Especially if you want a six pack!
Rajesh Radhakrishnan, Area Director, Food Production, The Park Hotel
Over the last 3 or 4 years, people have been specifically asking for food that is light: grilled, baked or steamed. No spring rolls and wantons any more. One of our most popular dishes is the ‘Ramen chicken and vegetable noodle soup’. It’s a nutritious one pot meal. Customers also ask for substitutes. Wild rice, instead of plain. Salad instead of potatoes. Whole wheat bread instead of white.
Our appams are made of red rice now. We’re experimenting with low-calorie cheesecake made with slim yoghurt. Creating more sugar-free desserts. We’re also tweaking recipes to make them lighter. Especially with Indian food. We skim off the fat. That’s an advantage of Indian curries: you just cool them, and all the oil gathers on top. So it’s easy to remove.
Mediterranean and Japanese menus are getting popular, as they’re seen as healthy. We’ve done health banquets offering baked salmon and vegetable tagines. Our ‘Steamy Affair’ promotion at Lotus had steamed tofu with bok choy and lemongrass scented fish in spinach leaves. We do salad pizzas, and offer wellness menus at the Spa with categories for low-carb, ayurvedic and protein-rich food.
With desserts, to be honest, I don’t see that much of a move towards healthier options. Maybe a tilt towards Western desserts, which tend to be lighter. Indian sweets are heavy on ghee and sugar. We’ve been reducing the sugar in our gajar halwa, gulab jamuns and moong dal halwa. But I constantly have to tell the halwais to hold back!