There’s the fruit diet. The high protein diet. No carbs. Low carbs. They have just one thing in common. They make you want to bite the next person who annoys you.
For those of you who don’t want to leave little tooth prints on colleagues, friends and family, Diet India is an option. Started about six months ago, the organisation — propelled by dieticians and chefs — formulates a healthy diet for each client, and then delivers it to homes and offices. Primarily aimed at diabetics and dieters, it’s slowly expanding to treat invalids too, since its focus is on healthy food that’s low on salt, oil and fat.
“Highly accomplished, educated people know surprisingly little about how to feed their bodies,” says head dietician Grace Jemima, at the company headquarters in Adyar. “There are doctors who skip breakfast to lose weight!” She talks of how a person should ideally eat five small meals a day to keep their metabolic rate high, and their body constantly fuelled.
In their spotless basement kitchen, which is buzzing with activity as chefs prepare lunch and dinner, watched carefully by the dieticians, head chef B Rajalingam talks about the challenges associated with cooking tasty, low-fat food.
Cut out the fat
To begin with, all the food is weighed carefully. It’s cooked primarily by steaming, baking and boiling. Rice bran oil and low-fat butter are used when needed. The milk is a skimmed variety imported from Saudi Arabia. “We inspect all the ingredients. We weigh and distribute them to the cooks. Especially, oil and salt,” says Jemima, adding with a laugh: “If they require a little extra salt, we don’t give it to them. Even if we have to lock the store.”
On a long table piled with cinnamon rolls and vegetable sandwiches, two dieticians sternly check each meal box that’s being packed against a client’s chart. Since the Diet India plan revolves around counting calories and portion control, quantities have to be exact. The breakfast, made at 6 a.m., is distributed by 8 a.m. Meanwhile, lunch and dinner are cooked by 10 a.m. so they reach clients by noon. Clients are instructed to refrigerate dinner, and reheat it when they’re ready to eat. As a result, there’s been considerable experimentation to find foods that travel well and stay reasonably fresh. Given the challenges, the menu offers an impressive variety, even if the food is not always wildly exciting.
Our Diet India lunch begins with a comfortingly hearty pea soup. There’s also a surprisingly creamy chickpea and banana soup on offer. It’s followed by a salad of sweet corn, which seems rather depressed from all the travelling. The coriander rice is dry but tasty. The vegetables for the day are okra and a mixed vegetable, both of which are quite bland. We end with rather doughy cinnamon rolls, which are actually meant for our mid-afternoon snack. They’re Spartan, but taste okay teamed with coffee. Most of Diet India’s clients seem quite happy with their food, particularly when they see results.
Remember, nothing beats learning how to feed yourself capably. Ideally, you should prepare your meals just before you eat them, because food is most nutritious when it’s fresh. However, for busy professionals and chronic fad dieters, this may be a good way to learn about eating well and losing weight, all the while — hopefully — improving your dietary habits for good.
Diet India charges Rs. 8,180 for a month on their premium plan. There’s also a plan for Rs. 5,180. They deliver to a 25-km radius around Adyar. Call 45966650 or log onto www.dietindia.in for more details.