Celebrity lifestyle coach Munmun Ganeriwal gets candid about her book
Munmun Ganeriwal firmly believes that dieting doesn’t work. Because if it did, there wouldn’t be so many kinds of it in the market! The nutritionist who swears by the consumption of traditional home food, Ayurveda and yoga, is now making waves with B-town ladies like Taapsee Pannu, Ekta Kapoor and Rakul Preet Singh. The award-winning lifestyle consultant has certifications from places like American College of Sports Medicine, Progressive Fitness, USA, The International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre to name a few. Her Yuktahaar programme is a holistic approach to lifestyle changes that stands to have you benefit not just physically but mentally and emotionally. And why not when Ganeriwal is out to convince the world of the wholesome benefits of the gut microbiome. Her book has now been published by Penguin India called Yuktahaar: The Belly and Brain Diet and the foreword is written by her client and loyalist Taapsee Pannu. The lifestyle coach got on a Zoom call with t2 to discuss her book and how one stands to benefit from it. Excerpts.
Tell us about the inception of this book. What kind of research went into it?
The book is an amalgamation of a lot of science –– nutrition, gut brain, microbiome etc. But along with that, there is a strong presence of Ayurveda and grandma’s wisdom that have been prevalent in our society for ages and comes from a space of deep experience. And you will find anecdotes aplenty from the Bhagavad Gita. So the research has been diverse and my vivid experiences collected from international conferences that I am regularly found at.
You step outside the country and you immediately know that all everyone is talking about is gut microbiome and nothing else. From a liver problem to a skin one, from obesity to diabetes, all answers are sourced from the gut microbiome. It is a headlining topic around the world that I practise myself, so it wasn’t research that I was especially doing for the book. My work and research go hand in hand. I practise Ayurveda and it’s wonderful to witness how all the ancient principles of Ayurveda coincide with the gut microbiome principles. That is what I find interesting, that they may be called different names but the essence is the same.
What exactly is gut brain and gut microbiome?
I have tried to simplify the technical concepts using the simplest of language in this book. In essence, the gut microbiome is the central character of the plot. The microbes in your gut maybe located there but they influence every cell of your body –– your physical, emotional and mental health. There is so much talk around depression and they say it is a mental health issue or that acidity is a gut issue but in reality, everything is connected. There is no point in categorising things in this age of hyper specialisation. An example of that would be a child getting stomach cramps the night before his exams. It is his anxiety that causes a physical reaction in his body in the form of diarrhoea. This book is not just about losing your weight, which everyone seems to be focused upon. That will definitely happen but this book is about a wholesome approach to your health and to make you feel better.
Internet-popularised trends like intermittent fasting and their impact on health –– what are your thoughts?
I read somewhere recently about diet trends... that if it really worked, here wouldn’t be so many. Intermittent fasting can be co-related to how generations before us have aligned their lives to the sun’s cycle. There wouldn’t be electricity that would keep someone up post-sunset. So invariably the last meal of the day would be by 6pm. And they would be out working in the fields during sunrise, with no blackout curtains in their window to help them sleep longer after sunrise. Automatically, you end up fasting the body for 12 hours. But just like with everything else, if it’s good, people start pushing for more. So some came up with 14 hours and some 16!
If you follow what has been advised and practised for years, your health would be in sync. This is the Circadian Rhythm diet that I have spoken about in the book.
For all Internet trends, I believe one just has to be mindful. I am of the firm belief that if something has been going on for generations, it takes a lot of courage to challenge it. If a trend challenges our age-old wisdom constantly, there must be something off about it.
What is your experience of working with stars who need their weights to align with their roles.
I have had a wonderful experience working with all the stars. I find them very disciplined. Honestly, maybe because I am known to be someone who cares about health first and aesthetics later, I am only approached by those stars who are firm about their health coming first. Some will come to me beforehand, very aware of what needs to be done, asking me to ensure that it doesn’t have harmful repercussions on their health.
Diet is expensive. What would you have to say?
Healthy is expensive when you believe that it is equivalent to eating expensive imported stuff and not what is available in your local stores. There is also the organic trend –– then of course it gets expensive. There are a lot of products that are labelled organic but are not really chemical-free. And, on the other hand, there might be marginal farmers who are making the food without chemicals but they don’t have the bandwidth to label their product as organic –– bandwidth equating to knowledge, education, finance, contacts. I think there are too many battles to pick up when it comes to the food industry. The consumer should just keep faith in eating their traditional meals that they have been consuming for generations.
Begin your day with a glass of warm beverage which is not tea or coffee
One may drink something herbal (the book is filled with recipes) or just a glass of warm water. That helps clear our system and start the day on a ‘lighter’ note.
Breakfast shouldn’t be king-size
Don’t begin your day with luchi aloo! You are not supposed to eat anything heavy in the morning time. It should be light and something like cheera-dahi or poha.
Lunch should be between 11am to 1pm
Lunch has to be the most wholesome meal which is also king-sized. In Ayurveda, this time is called the Pitta, when the sun is at its brightest. You eat according to the sun and you digest better.
If you take lunch on time, you will barely feel the need to munch
The evening munch for junk time will vanish from your life. You will find yourself reaching for an apple or any fruit if you do get peckish in the evening.
Finish your dinner as early as possible
Ideally one should wrap up their dinner by 7pm but if your workplace is far from home and you have to commute back, just do it at a time that is the earliest possible for you and religiously maintain that. Going to sleep by 10pm should be the motto.