... is Rujuta Diwekar's advice, as she urges women to establish a healthy bond with food.

It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that Rujuta Diwekar has made eating fashionable! Now, Rujuta takes a look at why women devalue themselves so much that their self-worth is determined vis-à-vis the inches and pounds on their frame! She talks about the offshoots of this horrifying phenomenon and remedies on the eve of release of her second book Women and the Weight Loss Tamasha (published by Westland).

Tell us about your book in a nutshell.

Women and the Weight Loss Tamasha is my attempt, as a nutritionist, to spread maximum awareness about a woman's wellbeing vis-à-vis her health in the various stages of her life. There are immense physical and psychological factors that contribute to a woman's well-being (and otherwise). The book explores all these in detail and also seeks to demolish myths about menopause, PCOD, hypothyroid that share a complex relationship with a woman's health.

Why the unusual title?

It might sound unusual but, if one looks closely, the antics women adopt to lose weight are nothing short of a tamasha (spectacle)! From crash diets to tummy tucks to random liposuctions to starvation... it is flabbergasting to see the lengths they go to to ‘look good' as per the definition ordained by the contemporary society.

Would you elaborate....

I've seen girls as young as 23 opting for tummy-staplers to hide a slight paunch... 19-year-olds getting liposuctions as a birthday gift from parents who want them to look good and nine-year-olds being made to go on a diet of cabbage soup so that they can shed ‘excess weight'. This obsession with weight-loss scares me no end. On a more philosophical plane, it saddens me to realise that, unknown to themselves, women have such low self-worth that they depend on superficial societal approval to feel good about themselves.

So are you saying it is wrong to lose weight in order to look good?

No. But it is definitely wrong to kill yourself by resorting to drastic and inappropriate measures. Also, women need to learn to be comfortable in their own skin.

What is the alternative line of thought?

Women should place greater onus on remaining healthy than on staying thin. The roots of this insecurity lie in the conditioning we're subjected to since childhood. Even today, girls are brought up to accord themselves the last priority. It is considered a virtue for a girl to be a sacrificial lamb who never utters a whimper of protest if she is hungry or not feeling well; but puts her family's/husband's/kids' wellbeing above herself. One should definitely fulfil one's familial obligations, but not at the cost of one's own wellbeing.

How does this establish a connect with food and eating right?

It is because of this secondary status that women either enslave themselves to, or are forced to accept, that food – with which we share the most intimate relationship of all – gets the last priority. A woman will slog to give the best comforts to her family or to excel at her workplace but will easily overlook her own nutritional needs while striving to complete her litany of chores. This makes her crabby and vacuous; a void that she tries to fill with junk/non-nutritive food that just gives a false and temporary sense of fulfilment, while also making her unfit and obese. This only leads to the woman feeling worse about herself; thus chipping away more of her self-worth. In a bid to get rid of these negative feelings, she resorts to quick-fix measures that cause more harm in the long run.

The book seems absolutely for women; won't your male readers feel left out?

I did think about that and would love to work on a similar book for men, who also have their share of problems and insecurities. But for the time-being, men can read this book to care better for the invaluable women in their lives!

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Sunday MagazineJune 28, 2012