Understanding pre and post-pregnancy body fitness

Understanding your body is key to pre- and post-pregnancy fitness, says nutritionist Rujuta Diwekar

July 17, 2017 11:31 am | Updated July 21, 2017 12:44 pm IST

Pregnancy has become a lot tougher. Even if you’re Kareena Kapoor.

Influential nutritionist and best-selling author Rujuta Diwekar’s latest book with Westland Publishers, Pregnancy Notes: Before, During & After , was inspired by the actor, whose baby, Taimur Ali Khan, was born last December.

“Kareena’s pregnancy was very talked about,” says Diwekar, who has been working on nutrition with the actress since the movie Tashan , where her ‘Size Zero’ measurements triggered an animated debate. “We wanted to tell people that there is a sensible way to prepare for it, and lose weight after.”

She says, “It’s also important to say: it’s okay... This too shall pass... You need that fat around you as protective tissue pre and post pregnancy. It’s what the body has learnt over years of evolution. It’s not going to shoot back simply because you are selfie-obsessed. All your body needs to let go of that weight is rest, recovery and good food.”

The author says there are many discouraging myths around pregnancy that need to be tackled. “A lot of women say that they gained their weight post pregnancy — even if it is 25 years after having their baby. Women see it as an event that irreversibly changes their body for the worse.”

She adds that when it comes to health, people are more confused than ever before. “Sometimes you need to disconnect from all of this information, and listen for your own voice.”

Diwekar also encourages people to listen to their parents and grandparents. “Because our mothers speak in a language that is vernacular, we think there is nothing scientific about their advice. But there is a whole lot of wisdom there and it is rooted in science.”

Mumbai: Bollywood actress Kareena Kapoor during the launch of Sony BBC Earth in Mumbai on Wednesday. PTI Photo (PTI3_2_2017_000034B)

Mumbai: Bollywood actress Kareena Kapoor during the launch of Sony BBC Earth in Mumbai on Wednesday. PTI Photo (PTI3_2_2017_000034B)

Her book attempts to record some of this information, gleaned from clients, friends and family. It has also been influenced by her senior internship programme last year, where she worked with four interns above the age of 65. “They are all so smart about food. They know what’s in season and how to use it.” There was another thing that made them visibly different. “I noticed with the seniors, there is no guilt whatsoever about cooking something special for yourself... Women today have very liberated opinions, but when it comes to liberated acts, we are big zeros. For all the talk that we do, we rarely walk the talk.”

Diwekar says she had a client who would flush the ladoo s her mother-in-law gave her post-pregnancy down the toilet, because she was convinced they would make her fat. Her book, therefore, explains exactly why these traditional foods are good for your body. Each chapter is followed by a heritage recipe section, listing everything from alivladoo s to poppy seed kheer . There are also a set of nutritionally power-packed recipes: sautéed drumstick leaves, pumpkin chutney and melogra (made with toordal , dill and turmeric).

Her big challenge has been to convince people that modern science is actually on the same page as ancient wisdom. “We like everything a little complicated in our life — we think unless it’s complex, it’s not scientific. But food is simple; just have your fundamentals in place. Think how sorted our grandmother’s generation was with women popping out six to seven children each. They ate coconut, ghee and rice without worrying about it.”

Of course, lifestyles have changed, and so has the world. She admits, “It’s no longer as easy as it used to be to get pregnant. Women are dealing with PCOD, obesity, rising hormonal issues. Insulin resistance is a problem because of more processed food and unhealthy lifestyles. That in turn triggers PMS, acne, hair loss and higher testosterone.”

This doesn’t mean you should throw in the towel. According to Diwekar, the basic fixes are easy. “Just increasing your muscle strength with exercise pushes up your insulin sensitivity. People need to be educated, so they can make the right choices: Eat according to season, avoid packaged foods, sleep and work out.”

“We want more women in the work place,” she states. For that, she says that they need to be nutritionally well-equipped. “With more access to money, women also now have actual reproductive rights,” she says. “You should be able to have a baby after 30 or 40, but to do that, you must be well-nourished. Then you won’t run out of energy and you’ll make a quick return to your work life, as well as your jeans.”

Excerpts from an exclusive interview with Kareena Kapoor:

Being an actor means being under constant, often unforgiving, scrutiny. How do you stay healthy and body-positive?

I would like to say that my fans and my audiences in general have been very kind and appreciative of the way I have looked all through my pregnancy, and have cheered me on shedding my weight post it.

There have been a few comments that did hit me as harsh, but then it comes with the territory of being an actor. What has helped me is that I have been consistent with my exercise and diet for the last 10 years. Good fitness levels help everyone, including me, stay positive.

Regular people assume it’s easy for actors to get into shape because they have so much back-up (chefs, gyms, nutritionists). What are the challenges that audiences don’t really understand?

In a way, yes, it is helpful to have access to professionals, but I say this with all humility: the diet I follow is really simple. It’s home-cooked khana — dal-chawal, dahi-chawal , so it doesn’t need chefs.

Gyms today are in every corner of India. Yoga can be done at home. Sometimes, it’s just about doing the basic stuff and silencing the excuses in your mind.

What are the most valuable lessons you’ve learnt about nutrition over the years, from Tashan until now?

Stick to the basics, patronise local food, exercise often but don’t forget to take the rest day. And most importantly, have a regulated bedtime.

Why do you think this book is important? What are the most significant lessons it imparts?

The book is close to my heart for various reasons, and I really wanted to share the diet journey I have had. I have written a foreword which lists all my main learnings, but I would list getting fit even before getting pregnant as probably amongst the most significant lessons. Also, really letting friends and family help with the baby, and not giving up on your own life post the baby, is an important but overlooked aspect of a healthy relationship with yourself and your baby.



One of Kareena Kapoor's diet plans during pregnancy

  • Meal (M) 1 Soaked raisins (7-8) and almonds (3-4). Drink the water of raisins
  • M 2 Egg and toast
  • M 3 Tender coconut water or kokum sherbet
  • M 4 Jowar roti, ghee and pulses + vegetables
  • M 5 Fresh fruit
  • M 6 Chakli (murukku) or cheese toast
  • M 7 Pulao and raita or rice and kadhi with veg
  • M 8 Chivda and yoghurt or buttermilk with rock salt and asafoetida (depending on hunger)

Post pregnancy: One of Kareena’s rest-and-recovery meal plans

  • M 1 Soaked black raisins
  • M 2 Upma with veggies/ajwain paratha
  • M 3 Lime water with sugar, kesar and rock salt
  • M 4 Dal-rice, vegetables and buttermilk/phulka and ghee with vegetables and veg raita
  • M 5 Cheese/jamun
  • M 6 Mango
  • M 7 Paneer and veggies cooked any style with roti/khichdi
  • *If hungry later - Banana/cup of milk
0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.