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Do you need to relearn your eating habits?

February 24, 2009
Did you ever think that a small meal every three hours can actually help you lose weight? Or that chewing your food slower may help satiate your appetite sooner?

We'll be bringing you a series of excerpts all through this week from celeb nutritionist Rujuta Diwekar's well-received book Don't Lose Your Mind, Lose Your Weight, which has already sold 10,000 copies within 20 days of hitting bookshelves.

The author is fitness guru to stars like Kareena Kapoor and Konkona Sen Sharma and in a two-part interview with, Rujuta also discussed her career and mantras to stay fit.

Rujuta will also answer reader queries, you can address questions to her by clicking here.

Here are two sections from Chapter 2, How to eat: Relearn.

The 5 basic rules to increase nutrient intake

Alright, point noted: we should be eating in silence and while enjoying our own company. Now the next question is, what should we be eating? I will answer that in the next chapter but before I do so here are 5 basic rules to increasing nutrient intake.

By nutrients I mean carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals and of course water. Of these, carbs, protein and fats are called macro nutrients because our body needs them in higher amounts and vitamins and minerals are called micro nutrients because they are needed in smaller amounts. Also, 70 percent of our body is water, so this is something that our body needs all the time.

1. Eat food that is prepared fresh. And consume it within 3 hours of cooking. That means you shouldn't be freezing any food for the next day. Don't deep freeze cooked food. I know for most of us who work regular hours, it is almost impossible to have fresh food for lunch. But you can stick to this rule for breakfast and dinner. And let's face it, most of us in India have maids who come home in the morning. We might as well use this luxury.

2. The smaller the number of people the food is prepared for, the better its nutrient level. More the people, the earlier you start to prepare the food and the greater the quantity of food cooked, the more oil and heat you use. That's why restaurant food can never be compared to home food. And that's why, instead of picking up a salad from your favourite salad bar, you should take a tomato and cucumber with you and eat it as your own on-the-go salad.

3. Eat your vegetables and fruits whole instead of cutting them into pieces, because you lose vitamins from their surface. The larger the exposed area, the more the loss of nutrients. So eat a full apple, pear or plum etc, and don't chop it into pieces. If it's a big fruit like melon or papaya which you simply have to cut, carve it into big pieces instead of pieces that you eat with your fork. So, hold the big piece in your hand and chew on it and literally let the juices flow. Messy but oh so satisfying. In the case of vegetables, don't store them cut. Never ever buy the pre-packed cut vegetables and fruits in the supermarkets. It's like buying food that's gone to rot. What's more, you're wasting all the packaging which comes along. (And please don't kill fruits in a juicer or mixer and pulp them into a juice. Not even if you retain the fibre.)

4. Remain loyal to your genes and eat what you have been eating since childhood. If you are a Punjabi eat your paratha, as a Tamilian eat your idli, etc. Right from the time you're in your mother's womb, your body is used to eating, digesting and assimilating certain foods. Almost everyone except a Punjabi will complain of a bad stomach after chole. There are two reasons for this:
a) non-Punjabis don't cook chole as well and
b) they lack enzymes required for breaking down chole. Most of us now eat food of all kinds, it's being part of our global village. But try and eat at least one meal daily that reflects your own genes. My editor is Bengali and has grown up on her maacher jhol and bhaat. Yet now she lives in Delhi and eats North Indian khana. I've told her she has to try and have more fish and rice because that's what her genes know and love.

5. As much as possible, eat local produce and seasonal food. Climate, altitude, humidity, wind, soil quality, etc influence our digestive system and foods that grow locally. Ayurveda recommends tweaking your diet, habits and lifestyle according to the ritu, or season. Kareena ate momos in Ladakh and they helped her lose weight because Ladakh is dry, windy, cold and at an altitude of 3,500 metres. If she ate the same momos in aamchi Mumbai which is humid, hot and at sea level, she would have become fat. Mangoes are great in the summer. Eat them just once a day as a mini-meal in themselves, and they will give you a season's supply of antioxidants. Store them in your fundu fridge for rains and you won't enjoy them as much; they won't taste half as good and would have lost most of their nutrients.


Before eating:

  • Switch off your phone, TV and computer.
  • Wash your hands (use a soap).
  • Serve yourself half of what you usually eat, on a nice, clean plate.
  • Preferably adopt the crosslegged posture or sit at your usual dining place.

    While eating:

  • Drink a glass of water.
  • Start eating (preferably with your hands) and eat slowly.
  • Chew your food slowly and deliberately.
  • Use the entire mouth and don't just chew from one side of your jaw.
  • While you still have food in your mouth don't pick up the food from your plate (keeping food ready in your hands or on your spoon means you are eating fast and will ultimately overeat.)
  • Eat with all your senses and think about how the food is nourishing you from within.
  • Now if you want to eat some more, serve yourself a second helping from the other half that's left. But don't eat it all.

    After eating:

  • Don't be in a rush to get up and get going. Stay where you are for a few minutes.
  • If you're clearing up yourself, pick up your plate and clean it with water before leaving it in the sink. (Food that dries up on the plate will sometimes stay on the plate even after washing, and can cause stomach discomfort at a later point.)

    Excerpted from Don't Lose Your Mind, Lose Your Weight, with permission from the publishers, Random House India.

    Got a question? Ask Rujuta Diwekar

    Purchase the book from Rediff Shopping!

    Also see: Meet the lady behind Kareena's size zero
    'It's a myth is that one needs to avoid calories'

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