Don't starve, eat right. That's the best way to establish a good relationship with food, and be comfortable with your body, says nutritionist Rujuta Diwekar at the launch of her new book

Rujuta Diwekar seems to delight in being contrary. When every fashionable diet dissed carbohydrates, she promoted rice, rotis and — gasp — alu parathas. When fats were considered an evil greater than fake Louboutins, she convinced her clients to add cheese, paneer and ghee to their meals. But her most surprising move was her choice of chief guest for the launch of ‘Women and The Weight Loss Tamasha' in Chennai — the flamboyantly-curvy actor Namitha.

Over buttery garlic bread at Taj Coromandel's Anise just before the launch, it becomes evident why. Rujuta's focus is not to find a poster girl (if it was, she'd suffice, with her gleaming skin and lithe body.) It's to inspire women to have faith in themselves, and the choices they make — with food, and life.

At the event, Namitha enters — enviably body-confident in a dangerously-snug dress. Any sniggers among the audience are quickly silenced when she begins her introduction with a disarming giggle saying: “I'm sure you're surprised. How come Rujuta Diwekar is connected to me — I'm known for my buxom body.”

She goes on to explain how she's moving from flabby to healthy. “I used to starve. My weight was constantly fluctuating. Up and down, up and down. I'd lose 10 kg, gain 15 kg. I'd kill myself on the treadmill… and then still gain weight.” She adds, “In the last three months, I've lost eight kg, and some more is on the way. It's been a life-altering experience.”

Rujuta explains why her second book, following her popular debut ‘Don't Lose Your Mind, Lose Your Weight' focusses on women. “It's about the way we treat our body and our relationship with food. As women, we have so little information. I wrote this so that we can start celebrating our bodies instead of feeling helpless about the size of jeans we wear.”

Nutritionist, yoga instructor, marathon trainer — Rujuta's advantage is that she approaches weight loss holistically. Hence, her new, information-packed book offers more than just diet gyaan, urging women to junk their weighing scales and work towards being fitter, stronger and healthier. Getting into that little black dress, she emphasises, is just a fringe benefit.

Dietician to the stars, most famously Kareena Kapoor, she talks of how food has become a full-fledged drama instead of a source of nourishment. She says: “I meet women who want me to believe they're helpless. Food is something they fear. But when you starve, you start ballooning out of proportion — stuffing yourself mindlessly later. If you're not ready to eat, you should be ready to stay fat.”

She adds: “The word ‘diet' has become synonymous with starving. You should be eating all you want without greed or fear setting in… Women have more access to education and money today, but instead of having better health, it's the opposite. They're undernourished and desperately need a break.”

Namitha interrupts at this point to talk of how she's suffered though diets: “I was on the cabbage diet. I would jog three hours, burn 900 calories, then tell myself I have to burn 200 to 300 more.” She adds with a laugh: “This is the first dietician who's like ‘eat baby, eat'. I now have rice and chicken curry at night! Rujuta, you're my fairy godmother. Thank you for not starving me.”

Rujuta states: “Anything more than an hour of exercise and you start looking sick. You also start feeling sick. Exercise is not a punishment. When people yo-yo diet, they age prematurely. But, the biggest loss is we stop trusting our stomachs.”

‘Women and the Weight Loss Tamasha' (Rs. 200) is published by Westland and is now available at bookstores. It is also available in the form of an audio book, voiced by the author.

EAT HEALTHY

Listen to your stomach. It will tell you the right quantity to eat. You need to start trusting your own judgment.

Eat two-and-a-half to three hours before sleeping.

There's no need to avoid rice at night. Kareena Kapoor says she owes her fabulous jaw line to vegetable pulao and raita!

Eat what you grew up eating. Yummy, local, easily-accessible food. Idlis, for example, are rich in vitamin B12.

A middle-aged spread is because of a lack of nourishment. The larger our stomachs, the greater our vulnerability to lifestyle diseases.

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Shonali MuthalalyMay 11, 2012