Appetite for life

Appetite for life

fit & FINE

Appetite for life

Rujuta Diwekar, though branded a celebrity nutritionist, is really more of an advocate for good health and sound living. She believes that food must be about eating well and not soaking carbohydrates, just like exercise must be seen as a challenge and not merely as a calorie-burning activity.

Rujuta terms her latest book The PCOD — Thyroid Book, a handier and updated version of a health guide. In an interaction with Deccan Herald, she gives a low-down on fitness, food and fine living. Excerpts:

What is an ideal mindset for exercise?

One big mistake people make while attempting to become fit is thinking: “I’m going to workout every single day of the week; I will exercise twice a day, I will kill myself in the gym”. These are all wrong resolves. Exercise, like medicine, has to be taken in the right dosage at the right time — it must stimulate you enough for you to recover from it.

Ideally speaking, 150 minutes of exercise per week is all that is needed for good health. But our greatest problem lies in compliance. We make all these grand plans without sticking to any. So it is best to start small. And fitness is not something you do before a cousin’s wedding, beach holiday, or a new year party. It has to be a lifelong commitment; not a short-term
affair.

How does one start if one has never exercised before?

I would say a fitness assessment test has to be taken. Never start with cardio, because by the time you want to start exercising you are, probably, already fat. Your bones, tendons, joints and ligaments are not at their peak strength; so it's best to start with strength training.

The biggest problems today...

One thing is that we have engineereed sedentary activities into our lives. We refuse to eat home-cooked food or local food. We are giving up on homegrown wisdom and that is how we end up being victims of creeping obesity. That is, we start putting on 0.5 to one kg per year, and before we know it, in a few years or so, we look entirely different from how we used to be.

What are common misconceptions that lead to unhealthy eating and exercising?

Spot reduction: It is believed that fat is capable of contraction and you can get rid of it by spot reduction.

Fattening rice: Rice is not fattening, especially if it is cooked the indian way.
Unhealthy ghee: It is not bad. But because we Indians eat ghee with everything, it makes us fat.

Exotic fruits: Popular perception is that local fruits like mango are fattening, while exotic fruits like berries are not. Truth is that all fruits contain fructose and it’s best to eat the local ones.
Cold-pressed juices: They are absolutely useless. It’s better to eat a fruit instead.

Hitting a fitness plateau...

There are several reasons this happens. It is mostly due to a calorie-restricted diet or no rest built into exercise. But every plateau is an opportunity to review and move on from your current diet plans and exercise routine.

Best workout regimens for women...

Strength training and Iyengar yoga are especially beneficial for women because they help develop better insulin sensitivity. Many women don’t want to lift weights because they’re afraid of being bulky — this stems from misinformation.

Truth is, if you want to look skinny, you need to develop more muscles. If you observe, a 45-year-old woman looks bulkier than a 25-year-old because she has lost a lot of muscle mass over the years.

Is there a foolproof way to control cravings?

Cravings are essentially a sign of nutritional deficiency. One sure way to keep them away is by eating real food in a more wholesome manner and on time. It is okay to eat a pastry because you want to, but not because you are going crazy. The body utilises it in a different way then. State of mind is important.

Tackling PMS...

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is not normal; be it your cravings or mood swings, it indicates that you’re nutritionally deprived. Women have to understand that appetite is a moving entity. They feel differently hungry in every phase of their menstrual cycle. So, adapt accordingly to avoid overeating.

Bad habits we need to unlearn...

Weighing ourselves every day, and on more than one scale. Our obsession of appearing thin and lighter on the scale is drawing our attention away from the main problem.

Is it a good idea to use health apps and trackers?

I believe that you should not stick to anything that takes away from you how you are feeling within and puts control of what you’ve eaten into an external source. That takes away your happiness. Your stomach is a better calorie tracker than any app.