×
Home Companies Industry Politics Money Opinion LoungeMultimedia Science Education Sports TechnologyConsumerSpecialsMint on Sunday
×

When you know you’re eating wrong

When you know you’re eating wrong
Comment E-mail Print Share
First Published: Fri, Dec 16 2011. 09 15 PM IST

Letting go: Gupta gave up her favourite food, duck with dumplings and cabbage, for the longest time.
Letting go: Gupta gave up her favourite food, duck with dumplings and cabbage, for the longest time.
Updated: Fri, Dec 16 2011. 09 15 PM IST
Yaana Gupta’s struggles with her weight could be the story of any teenage girl who wants to make it in the world of modelling or acting. As she writes in her forthcoming book How to Love Your Body (and Get the Body You Love), the pressure to stay reed thin rarely ever starts from the outside. The obsessive need to be thinner is stress that teenage girls often don’t know how to handle.
Gupta’s battle began as early as 16, after she decided to be a model. She had to maintain her weight on the lower side and she believed her healthy appetite was making her fat. She started smoking “because for me cigarette was something that I was allowed to have as it had no calories”. It reduced her appetite too.
Letting go: Gupta gave up her favourite food, duck with dumplings and cabbage, for the longest time.
Gupta writes how, when she was a teenager, she had to give up her favourite Czech food, duck with dumplings and cabbage, which she used to eat often. She ate it again after a long gap at Prague airport. She chillingly reminds readers that once you have an eating disorder or are a compulsive dieter, you never completely get over it. You always categorize food as healthy or unhealthy, and fattening or non-fattening. It’s a pattern you can’t break out of.
Her strict regimen led to dreams about food, cravings she could not control. After months of “non-eating”, she would often succumb to binges of overeating. She compares her desire to binge-eat with an alcoholic’s desire to get that one drink after being denied for a long time. She also candidly admits that each binge-eating episode was followed by feelings of guilt, fear, anger and self-loathing.
Gupta’s journey became harder when she took on an assignment in Japan. Away from home, in a place where the food she was used to wasn’t available, she was forced to eat junk food like French fries, burgers and pizzas.
Gupta tried various diets. One of the first was the Atkins low-carb diet, which she started at the age of 21 while in India; a second is the blood-group diet that a Taiwanese doctor in Goa introduced her to.
Gupta’s book reminds us that parents have to take on the responsibility of teaching their children to eat healthy from a young age—and also teach them to cook for themselves rather than rely on restaurants and packaged food.
Although Gupta’s advice on how to control and manage weight is useful, what makes the book really engaging is the honest personal account. She confesses in the book that there was a change in her attitude only after she realized that excessively controlling her diet had led to an eating disorder.
Towards the latter part of the book, Gupta dishes out tips: Eat small meals, set small targets, chew properly, eat away from the TV set, have positive thoughts. This is where the book loses its appeal. This information is readily available, and Gupta does not really go into the details of how she followed these principles herself.
Stay-in-shape mantras
Small things that Gupta does on a regular basis to keep her diet on track. Edited excerpts from the book:
How to Love Your Body (and Get the Body You Love): By Yaana Gupta, Penguin Books India,216 pages, Rs 199.
• Drop a particular food group for two weeks and see how you feel. For example, totally stop all dairy products and monitor your energy levels day by day, the appearance of your skin and the overall feeling in your body. After the first week, you will be able to see the difference in your body. But I suggest you continue for one more week to be sure. After the second week has passed and you have noted the difference it has made to your body, reintroduce this food in your diet and again notice how you feel. Then you will be sure if this food is good for your body or not.
• Drop a particular food group for two weeks and see how you feel. For example, totally stop all dairy products and monitor your energy levels day by day, the appearance of your skin and the overall feeling in your body. After the first week, you will be able to see the difference in your body. But I suggest you continue for one more week to be sure. After the second week has passed and you have noted the difference it has made to your body, reintroduce this food in your diet and again notice how you feel. Then you will be sure if this food is good for your body or not.
• I use the alarm on my phone to remind myself of meal timings. I set the alarm for every two-and-a-half hours, and when it buzzes, I take it as a cue to eat. I recommend this method to those who are not used to eating frequently or who get so busy during the day that they forget to eat.
• The portion is important and so if you eat frequently as I suggest, you need to measure the size of the carbohydrates and protein portions according to the size and thickness of your palm. It is that simple. Now you will ask me how will the size and thickness of my palm help if I am eating chicken curry? With chicken curry, I look at the size of the chicken pieces and compare them with my palm by just putting the chicken pieces all together on one side of the plate. Then I look at the amount and see that it kind of visually matches the size of my palm. You cannot weigh everything you eat.
• The pH of water is important as the body thrives better on alkaline water. Our diet is often quite acidic, so when you drink alkaline water, it dilutes the acidity created in your body. There are a few inexpensive things you can do to make your water’s pH more alkaline, such as adding pH drops or natural calcium power to the water. But the easiest of all and always available is lemon juice. It’s kind of a paradox because we think lemon or lime is acidic, but the fact is that lemon is very alkalizing to the body.
• Take a picture of yourself before you start on a diet and exercise plan and then take one every three weeks. The changes in your body will inspire you along the way and motivate you to keep going.
• I sometimes use the opportunity to give my body extra love as I apply cream or oil on my body after a shower. It’s all about creating delicious rituals for yourself where you like being with your body and enjoy it.
I use the alarm on my phone to remind myself of meal timings. I set the alarm for every two-and-a-half hours, and when it buzzes, I take it as a cue to eat. I recommend this method to those who are not used to eating frequently or who get so busy during the day that they forget to eat.
• The portion is important and so if you eat frequently as I suggest, you need to measure the size of the carbohydrates and protein portions according to the size and thickness of your palm. It is that simple. Now you will ask me how will the size and thickness of my palm help if I am eating chicken curry? With chicken curry, I look at the size of the chicken pieces and compare them with my palm by just putting the chicken pieces all together on one side of the plate. Then I look at the amount and see that it kind of visually matches the size of my palm. You cannot weigh everything you eat.
•The pH of water is important as the body thrives better on alkaline water. Our diet is often quite acidic, so when you drink alkaline water, it dilutes the acidity created in your body. There are a few inexpensive things you can do to make your water’s pH more alkaline, such as adding pH drops or natural calcium power to the water. But the easiest of all and always available is lemon juice. It’s kind of a paradox because we think lemon or lime is acidic, but the fact is that lemon is very alkalizing to the body.
• Take a picture of yourself before you start on a diet and exercise plan and then take one every three weeks. The changes in your body will inspire you along the way and motivate you to keep going.
• I sometimes use the opportunity to give my body extra love as I apply cream or oil on my body after a shower. It’s all about creating delicious rituals for yourself where you like being with your body and enjoy it.
seema.c@livemint.com
Comment E-mail Print Share
First Published: Fri, Dec 16 2011. 09 15 PM IST
More Topics: Yana Gupta | Penguin | Eating Disorder | Lounge |