The diet report

Eat really well and still lose weight? SHONALI MUTHALALY achieves the impossible after a six-week diet plan prescribed by famous nutritionist Rujuta Diwekar

I’m terrified of Rujuta Diwekar. I quake when I see her name in my gmail inbox. Especially, if I’ve been eating cake.

Author of the just-released “Don’t lose your mind, Lose your weight”, published by Random House, Mumbai-based Rujuta is a sports nutritionist, trainer of marathon runners and dietician. She’s the fêted creator of the diet that made Kareena Kapoor into what’s been tediously touted as: ‘size zero’. A couple of months ago, Random House, like The Godfather’s Don Corleone, made me an offer I could not refuse. Unfortunately, it did not involve pizza.

Rujuta, who has worked with a glittering array of celebrities, ranging from the Bollywood brigade (the Kapoor sisters, Saif Ali Khan, Sonali Bendre) to hot-shot industrialists such as Anil Ambani (who she trained for the Mumbai marathon) became my dietician. And, Project Shonali-Put-Down-That-Cheesecake began.

I’m a diet cynic, though I do dream of the day when there’ll be a magic pill that’ll stop French fries from evilly settling in inconvenient places. The only time I tried a fad diet was went I went on the gruelling seven-day GM (Day one: fruits; Day two: vegetables…), during which I was so bad tempered that strong men used to climb trees when they saw me coming.

So, when I first spoke to Rujuta, I snottily asked for the magic formula. Which is when she asked me to write down every single thing I ate for the past three days.

My diet recall made both of us squeal in horror. You know that rule about how food from a friend’s plate doesn’t count? Apparently, it does. Gasp. Rujuta pointed out how a bit of a brownie here, a bite of a samosa there, a couple of biscuits with tea… all add up. And land right in the places that make you less violin and more ghatam.

I’m a food critic. I eat out almost six times a week. And yet, Rujuta said I was starving. Apparently, most of us are completely starved of nutrition, especially if we tend to eat on the go. Which is why we feel like eating sweets or chips. For our bodies, they are just quick energy sources.

The trick is to eat seven small meals, and make sure they’re nutritious. I ate cheese, peanuts and bananas. I had paneer stir-fry dinners. Grilled fish. Almonds and figs. Expecting months of sawdust and hot water, it was a pleasant surprise. Rujuta, who’s a straight-talking, no-nonsense kind of person, kept a strict eye on me, and I had to note down everything I ate and e-mail her. It’s a great way of keeping a person honest, really. I cringed fearfully every time I went off track and had to write things like 25 French fries.

My biggest challenge was to break what she called my ‘fasting, feasting’ pattern, something I see almost all my friends do. Eat a wicked dinner, then have coffee for breakfast, soup for lunch and finally go nuts by 4 p.m., frantically vacuuming up calories like hungry hippos at an all-you-can-eat buffet.

“We just don’t want to believe that we can enjoy eating correct. Dieting is supposed to be painful… Weight loss is the most abused, most misunderstood word,” she says.

Which is how so many companies make so much money out of fad diets and false promises. People are desperate to believe that they can drop 20 kg and be bikini-ready in a matter of weeks. “There are places that charge you per kilo — like you’re buying onions,” says Rujuta, adding that the only way to lose weight is slowly and sensibly. “Wake up on time, sleep on time, exercise regularly.” And eat. “We can lose weight only if we eat.”

So, I ate every couple of hours. I drank intimidating quantities of water (Rujuta recommends five litres, though I never really accomplished that). I tried to follow the meal plan.

Rujuta said I’d feel results immediately. I hate to sound like one of those nauseatingly ecstatic TV advertisements, but she was right. I was so cheerful, energetic and bouncy that my friends found me positively irritating. One of them took to putting her hand on top of my head to stop me jumping all day. My hair shone, my skin gleamed and my jeans got delightfully loose.

Then came the holiday season, during which I went off the diet and threw myself into Christmas cake with a vengeance. Astonishingly, I haven’t regained any of the weight I lost in those six weeks or so. Rujuta says it’s because I built lean muscle, burnt fat and raised my metabolism instead of just losing muscle and water, which are the first to be sacrificed in fad diets.

It’s not easy. But not terribly difficult either. “You have to make a lifelong commitment,” says Rujuta, adding thoughtfully, “crash dieting is like a fling with a bad boy… even when you’re in it, you know it’s not going to work long term.” Been there. Done that. She’s right.


“I honestly had no idea what it was. I don’t think Kareena knew what size zero was. I Googled it only because I knew people were going to ask me. I don’t know if she would even fit into size 0!

About her being unhealthy, why would she be? She started eating better, eating more. A lot of us gain weight because we do not eat enough… People assume there have to be negative effects when the results are so dramatic. It’s too much for them to believe that you can lose weight, look great and still be healthy. It’s too logical, too boring. So they come up with the ‘Size 0’ controversy.”


7.15 a.m.: 1 banana

(Breakfast, gym days) muesli + skim milk + 1 scoop whey protein

(Non-gym days) 2 egg whites + 1 slice of whole wheat toast

10 a.m. to 10.30 a.m.: A handful of peanuts

1.30 p.m.: 1 roti + vegetables + dal

3.30 p.m.: a bowl of curd

5.30 p.m.: Soy milk – any flavour

7.30 p.m.: 2 egg whites or 1 chicken breast + home made vegetable or veg salad

Recommended for you