Losing weight is often something you do by just yourself. It is a lonely quest, and sometimes without much support from friends and family. Partying, on the other hand, is a social activity—it involves friends and family and food that is good for the senses, but not for the belly. And we all know it is much easier to eat food that is fun and much easier to break diets than sticking to the drudgery of a weight-loss plan. Friends and family too find it far easier to goad you to enjoy more of wine, cheese, or tiramisu, than be a nag and remind you to eat healthy and limit the intake of fried and greasy snacks. It’s time to change that equation, and involve your whole family to develop healthy eating habits.
Get healthy together
Plan the week’s breakfast in advance, because it’s an important meal that helps you work through the day, but is easily skipped because of the morning rush. Here’s an example of what the plan should look like. Monday: sprinkle cinnamon on oats and have it with milk and an apple; Tuesday: multigrain toast with scrambled eggs, mushrooms and papaya; Wednesday: idli sambhar with fruit salad; Thursday: muesli with milk and protein shake; Friday: besan chilla with green chutney; Saturday: dosa with paneer masala; Sunday: poha or upma. Poha and upma are refined starches, lack fibre and make you feel hungry quickly, so indulge in them only on a relaxing Sunday to reward yourself.
• Start your day with five-eight soaked almonds. Almonds help with memory, healthy skin and hair. Overnight soaking ensures improved digestion and absorption.
• Ensure that there are at least five colours of vegetables everyday at various meals. Leafy greens such as spinach, methi, paani bhaji (watercress leaves); red vegetables such as tomatoes and red peppers; orange and yellow ones such as carrots and pumpkins; dark green veggies such as bhindi, and the various beans; purple ones such as brinjal or purple cabbage.
• If you are snacking on fruit always accompany these with a small serving of almonds or pumpkin seeds or a slice of low-fat cheese to stay full for longer.
• Ensure that there is some protein served at each meal. Low- fat egg curry, paneer or tofu bhurji, chicken bharta or curry are healthy choices.
• Use multigrain, high fibre foods where ever possible. Multigrain atta for chapattis, mixed dals or legumes, even mixing some brown rice with white rice is a good idea, if you are not accustomed to the taste of brown rice. Fibre improves digestion and manages weight.
• Use healthy cooking practices such as steaming and roasting and calculate edible oil intake at half a litre per person per month. Discard any leftover oil from cooking.
• Make up your mind to exercise together as a family at least once a month, picking an activity that is fun for everyone. You could play badminton, swim or go on a trek or go cycling. The key is to plan in advance so you get the activity done.
• Decide that you will party once or twice a week on weekends only. For children, limit junk food to once or twice a week.
Rainbow diet: Eat fruits and vegetables in different colours.
With a little help from your friends
Here are some ways in which friends and family can offer valuable support for those who are on a diet:
• Get to know the kind of food the dieter is meant to have so you can support that plan at all times.
• Plan to include such foods in the menu so that the dieter does not feel left out. After all meals are best enjoyed with the family and being singled out as the person on a special diet can be embarrassing.
• Even as you support the dieter, avoid nagging and making the dieter feel guilty if on occasion he or she goes off track and eats unhealthy. Too much nagging can make the dieter lose faith in her/his ability to lose weight, perhaps binge eat and forget about dieting.
• When eating out, suggest restaurants or menu plans that will help the dieter to stay with his plan.
Madhuri Ruia is a nutritionist and Pilate s expert. She runs InteGym in Mumbai, which advocates workouts with healthy diets.
Write to Madhuri at firstname.lastname@example.org