Rujuta Diwekar’s Tips On Healthy Eating Are Unconventional And They Workby | August 14, 2019
Ask Rujuta Diwekar for one piece of advice to lose weight and she will be all praises for dal, chawal, and ghee, with the same zeal with which others in her niche would recommend quinoa and kale. The celebrity dietician—Kareena Kapoor Khan is a fan—who rules out the benefits of filling the plate with unpalatable foods has brought joy to many by tagging this combination as superfoods.
Most of Diwekar’s advice zeroes in on locally available produce and celebrates, the golden rules our grandmothers followed when it comes to food. Uninhibited and full of insights from the industry, Rujuta shatters all diet standards and food fads for those caught in the weight loss labyrinth. Her advice is also pertinent to those battling health issues—as seen in her book The PCOD-Thyroid Book.
Luxeva spoke to the fitness guru on our vexed relationship with food and exercise, and how to replicate some of her thought-provoking advice in our lives.
Luxeva: How do you propose a person uncomplicates their life?
Rujuta Diwekar: "You can uncomplicate your life by just learning to be yourself. We live under so much pressure to be like someone else, that we lose out on ourselves. Uncomplicating your life is essentially going back to the basics. Start your day with a smile, eat a local fruit (in summers) or a nut (in winters) followed by your chai or coffee. Eat a proper breakfast, make exercise a part of your daily routine, and go to bed on time. Be in a meaningful relationship, both at a personal and professional level. Your work and life should bring you happiness and not just a certificate of existence. When we accept that everyone has a different body structure and each one of us experiences our optimal fitness at a different size and weight, we no longer want to look like poor clones of each other. That’s where happiness truly comes from."
Luxeva: What are some of the mistakes a person makes when they’re trying to lead a healthier lifestyle?
Rujuta Diwekar: "The first mistake is to look at ourselves as a metric and not as a person. We are more than our body weight. We don’t have to be leaner or a size smaller to be attractive. We cannot reduce ourselves to what we are not, whether it is a size or weight.
Our second mistake is our constant need to look for things that will make us a size smaller. Whether it is starving ourselves, forgetting how we’ve been traditionally eating, or gulping down copious amounts of herbal tea, we jump on a bandwagon assuming it will help us size down.
Thirdly, we don’t realise that the first two mistakes are what have landed us in this soup in the first place. Because it gives us a fleeting glimpse of what we would look like if we were a size smaller, we torture ourselves with harsher deprivations and bad tasting teas with unpronounceable names.
Every time I’m talking to teenagers or millennials, I tell them that being on a diet is like being on a drug. Once you get hooked to it, you need a higher amount the next time; something more intensive and extreme. It may start with ditching rice for dinner and move on to skipping lunch, drinking green smoothies as a meal, or fasting for hours in a row."
Luxeva: How can one translate a two-month diet plan into a healthy lifestyle?
Rujuta Diwekar: "An ideal diet plan is one that you can follow for the next 20 years without feeling any discomfort. It should target overall fitness over a specific weight and size and help you come to peace with your body. Look for a diet which is in-tune with your culture, climate, and local crop cycle. It has to be something that benefits not only your health but also your local economy while keeping the global ecology in a healthy space. At the end of the day, we are all a part of this big universe."
Luxeva: In an age of pilates, gymming, and CrossFit, which workout shows the best results on an Indian body?
Rujuta Diwekar: "I have always believed that strength training in the gym and yoga are great workouts. Cardio is another good option. Everything else might get you more ‘likes’ on Instagram, but in reality doesn’t have many benefits."
Luxeva: Vegan or vegetarian? Which is the shortcut to a healthier lifestyle?
Rujuta Diwekar: "A diet that your grandmother approved of and lived by is the best option. If your grandmother doesn’t recognise the meal you’re eating, don’t eat it. Moreover, never disrespect your food. Always be grateful to what you have on your plate. Eat food that is easily accessible to everyone- the poor, the rich, and the middle class. Move over from imported acai berries and goji berries and choose local fruits. Peaches are great because they are seasonal and are easy to procure."
Luxeva: What are the foods one can incorporate in their diet to have a more active and energetic day?
Rujuta Diwekar: "There are a few things I recommend:
- Start your day with a banana, it balances the blood sugar level in the body. Add a handful of peanuts to your diet because the fatty acids in them will regulate your blood sugar and also reduce the risk of weight gain by promoting satiety.
- Eat or drink a tender coconut, chaach or lassi every day. You can also have amla sharbat since it is in season right now.
- Add legumes like chana dal and moong dal to your dinner. With over 65,000 varieties of pulses in India, you have plenty of options.
- Most importantly, avoid using any gadgets (phone or television) right before bed."
Luxeva: An ideal cheat-day meal would be?
Rujuta Diwekar: "For starters, incorporate a diet that doesn’t require you to cheat. Most diets are designed around the ‘punishment psyche’. The question is, how long will that work for you? Eventually, you’ll need a normal diet, something that also allows you to indulge without guilt. If you love what you are eating, following a specific diet will never feel like a punishment and you won’t really look forward to the cheat day."
Luxeva: What’s your favourite superfood?
Rujuta Diwekar: "Anything that is native and versatile, like rice. Rice is grown locally and it is versatile because you can cook it in any way you want, as kheer, pulao, khichdi or idli. Any food that has three properties, locality, versatility, and therapeutic properties is a superfood. It’s also important to remember that every region has its own superfood and there is no one ideal superfood that is good for everyone. Saying avocado is the universal superfood is like saying Shah Rukh Khan is the best husband for every woman out there."
Luxeva: A change one must make while transitioning from one’s 20s to 30s?
Rujuta Diwekar: "The biggest change you need to make, that will affect everything else, is to have a lesser amount of ‘late nights’. It happens invariably as you get older, you switch from clubs to house parties. It isn’t ‘cool’ to be sleep-deprived and then head to work half-asleep the next day. Winding down at the right time of the day and sleeping early is the key. Strength training is also important, especially for women, as our bone mineral mass gradually starts declining as we hit our thirties. Strength training will aid the process of bone strengthening. Also, limit your daily intake of tea and coffee. Too much caffeine can interfere with the assimilation of calcium and iron in the body. Lastly, change the way you have been vacationing. A lot of women are influenced by their parents, friends, or partners when it comes to planning a vacation. Start taking charge and make it turn out the way you want it to. You don’t have to wait till you are 40 to live your life your way. The time to be yourself is now."