Food

Rujuta Diwekar on how to eat right in 2020

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How to take back control of what you eat, so 2020 becomes a year that helps you adopt better food habits

Hello dear readers, wishing you a happy new year. How are you feeling today? Did you sleep well last night? Have you been complying with your exercise plans? Do you have sweet cravings post meals?

How many of us consider the above factors as a reflection of our health? But that’s what they are — surrogate measures of metabolic health — your hormonal health, cholesterol levels, kidney and liver function, gut health, and much more. However, the public health narrative is almost always about losing weight. Often, at the cost of health gain.

This is why we started the 12-week fitness project in the beginning of 2018. It was to reinforce common sense and put control back in the individual’s hands as far as health goes. More than 1.25 lakh people from over 40 countries participated and saw improvements in metabolic health parameters, inch loss from their waists and developed a better relationship with food.

The cover of Diwekar’s latest book, published by Juggernaut Books

The cover of Diwekar’s latest book, published by Juggernaut Books   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Most importantly, the culturally compliant food and lifestyle modifications were sustainable, as most participants continued following them. Fitness doesn’t have to cost you the earth, literally. It’s 2020, climate change is a reality, and we need to go back to eating practices that were good for both people and the planet.

What follows is a cheat sheet to essential learnings from the 12-week fitness project, a fast-track version that will help you reset yourself in 10 days. It is uncomplicated, inexpensive, and more importantly, it’s easy.

It is independent of influencers, gadgets and the weighing scale — and is about improving health and losing weight as a consequence. Repeat that after me. Because that is exactly how metabolism works and not the other way around.

Most importantly, I promise you, that if you follow this eating plan for the next 10 days, you will report better sleep, less bloating, more energy, and be on the path to losing those inches in a sustainable manner.

Before we start, here are some ground rules
  • Don’t start your day with tea/coffee
  • Eat home-cooked meals as often as possible
  • Eat your meals without your phone next to you
  • Structure your meals as follows: Pre-breakfast, breakfast, mid-morning snack, lunch, 4-6 pm meal, dinner
  • Patronise what grows around you, is in season and is cooked in your kitchen

Meal plan

1. Eat a banana or any other fresh fruit first thing in the morning. Or soaked almonds or soaked raisins. You can have a traditional home-cooked breakfast (idli, dosa, poha) about 45 minutes to an hour after this.

Why: Fitness is built one step at a time by small but daily actions. The body rewards consistency over anything else.

2. Add ghee to every meal — do this gradually if this is a new habit. So, add ghee to one meal first, then gradually increase. Put in as much as enhances the taste of the food and does not mask it. Also take into account the food item: Rice-dal, roti-vegetable will need lower quantities; puran poli, dal baati will need more.

Why: Ghee is the ultimate Indian superfood. It is a fat that breaks down other fats, is excellent for digestion, keeps joints healthy and skin glowing. Ghee also reduces sweet cravings.

3. Have a mid-morning snack. You can have a fresh fruit or a home-made laddoo or barfi (traditionally made as per season, with limited quantities of jaggerywinter specialties). Or a seasonal/home-made drink, such as coconut water, buttermilk, nannari, nimbu sherbet (with not more than 1 tsp sugar) etc.

Vegan or Keto?
  • Recently, a headline declared that research has now proven that eating meat is not dangerous to health and that all these years we have been misled. They had looked at the same data as the studies which said limit meat intake and found their results to be statistically irrelevant. The keto community felt vindicated. On the other hand, the vegan community had lots to cheer about too. The documentary The Game Changers was successfully converting once hard-core meat eaters to plant-based diets. Virat Kohli even tweeted how he felt much better being a vegetarian athlete.
  • It’s really not about meat but eating it in a sustainable manner without it taking a toll on our body or the planet. So, if you are from a traditional meat-eating community, go back to the practice of eating meat sometimes, two to three times a week max and with rice or bhakri and sabzis, just like your grandmom taught you to. And if you are a vegetarian, don’t worry about protein, just eat your dals and pulses with rice and bhakris and sabzis, just like your grandmom taught you to.

Why: The Ayurvedic wisdom behind including these drinks during the day was to stoke the appetite, ease digestion and boost the immune system. They introduce diversity to your diet, allowing you to celebrate the season, eating roots, flowers and leaves.

4. The 4-6 pm meal is your most important meal of the day. Plan this as carefully as you would your lunch or dinner. You could eat a chapati with ghee and jaggery. Or choose between poha, upma, dosa, egg-toast, murukku or home-made coconut, gram or gond laddoo. If you have early dinners, then just have some groundnuts with jaggery.

Why: I always tell my clients that the key to losing weight lies in what they eat between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m., a time when most of us are the most hungry and also the most careless in our eating. By eating something wholesome in the evening, you can eat a light dinner. This is the make-or-break meal, this decides whether you will have long-lasting fitness or whether it will fizzle out in the next couple of weeks.

5. For dinner, eat rice with sambar, rasam or dal and any vegetable you want to add. For the rice, pick hand-pounded or single-polished rice, instead of brown rice for your everyday use.

Why: This is easy to digest, and a complete meal. Rice and dal also improves sleep quality. It is suitable for people of all kinds of constitutions according to Ayurveda (vata, pitta and kapha doshas).

Rujuta Diwekar’s The 12-week Fitness Project is published by Juggernaut Books

Do consult a physician before beginning any diet, especially if you have a medical condition

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2020 11:53:46 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/food/rujuta-diwekar-on-how-to-take-back-food-in-2020/article30492627.ece

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