Monday, 30th October 2017

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Bebo’s flat tummy diet

Celebrity nutritionist Rujuta Diwekar tells the YFLO ladies about eating local, seasonal and traditional. only t2 was there

  • Published 5.01.18
Rujuta Diwekar at the Taj Terrace 

The learning started right from the get-go, with Rujuta Diwekar insisting on starting the talk right on time. “You can be late for a talk. But if we do this with our meals, that’s a problem,” said the celebrity nutritionist and writer of bestselling titles like Women and the Weightloss Tamasha and Don’t Lose Your Mind, Lose Your Weight. Rujuta addressed the members of YFLO (Young Ficci Ladies Organisation) at a session titled ‘YFLO and the Weight Loss Tamasha’ at Taj Bengal on December 16. Excerpts from the hour-long session, followed by Q&A


Weight loss is a multi-billion-dollar industry. With the advent of dieticians and gyms, instead of getting leaner and fitter, we are getting fatter. And the reason is that everyone is an expert. The question is, who should we listen to?

The person you should be listening to is you, yourself. If not you, then the daadi or naani (grandmothers) at home.

Because they are genuinely invested in your well-being and they don’t change the tune of their advice every five years. 


The first thing that I would like all of you to know is that sugar is not a killer. The form in which you have your sugar is what you should be concerned about. The good forms of sugar are sugarcane, jaggery, the natural laal shakkar (red sugar) and refined white sugar.

What is India’s biggest detox? Sugarcane. If you chew on sugarcane, it will help you detoxify your liver.

Or have sugar in nolen gur, which Calcutta has access to. Nolen gur is a local, seasonal product. It pumps money into the local economy.

The American Diabetes Association and Heart Association say six to nine teaspoons of sugar a day is all right, even for diabetics. If you clean up your diet and eat local, regional foods, you won’t end up eating more than three or four spoons of sugar in a day. The key is, are you confident enough to stick to a local, native, regional diet?

Rich people of developing economies associate poor prestige with eating their own local native food. Which means that if we are rich, we are more sold on a stevia as compared to sugarcane.

We won’t have sugar in our tea or coffee but then end up having a biscotti or a pastry or some biscuit. So you consume a bad form of sugar instead of a clean form.

Bad forms of sugar are the ones that come in cakes and pastries, fruit juices, colas (regular, diet or zero varieties) and chocolates. I know people who will not have nolen gur but are sold on “one tiny piece of dark chocolate”. But the minute it comes out of a packet, the minute it is something from a far-off place, the damage has already been done. 


Cholesterol is not a killer either, it does not lead to heart diseases. After 40 years of telling us that it is bad for us, USDA in 2015 said cholesterol as a nutrient is no longer a concern for overconsumption. Matlab? English translation of what your daadi says — ‘Ghee jab khatein hain toh ginte nahin hai ke kitna khaya.’

In my latest book, Pregnancy Notes, I talk about the importance of having ghee post-pregnancy. One of the reasons is it will ensure that your skin gets that smooth, even tone back, you are able to burn fat from the stubborn fat areas, that the glycemic index of your meal comes down, which means that every time you are eating a laddoo, if it has ghee in it, then the blood sugar will not spike, it’ll rise at a slow, steady rate.

Like the term ‘yoga’ has become globalised, ghee is also getting globalised. Ghee also helps prevent IBS or irritable bowel syndrome. It lines the intestines and prevents things like gluten allergy, dairy allergy, bloatedness, hairfall….

But how much to eat? Your daadi will tell you it depends on what you are eating. Dal-chawal needs lesser ghee than dal-baati. You should add so much ghee that it enhances the flavour of the food but it doesn’t take away from the flavour of the food.

Then, because ghee is an essential fat, it helps you assimilate fat-soluble vitamins, like vitamin D. If vitamin D is properly assimilated, our thyroid works fine and if our thyroid works fine, then our weight reduces.

You are all sitting in the sun but how much vitamin D you will be able to assimilate from this sun will depend on whether or not you’ve been eating ghee.


Bengalis eat lots of coconut, which is why their skin is flawless. So, have daab water, eat tender coconut, eat coconut when it is ripe, and surely eat it in its dry form (desiccated) in laddoos and barfis. Coconut is antibacterial and antiviral, especially good for kids who keep falling ill with every change of season. Garnish your vegetables with coconut, make chutneys out of coconut, make laddoos. 


Peanuts are good. For every woman who gets bloated, that’s also because of not eating peanuts. It is a rich source of vitamin B6. It also has biotin, which is good for the skin. It has essential amino acids. Just a handful of peanuts can help prevent all the diet disasters that we do. Like, not eating anything till 5pm and then eating everything that comes our way. Just a handful of peanuts can help prevent that.

Also cashews. It is especially good if you have a cholesterol problem. Coconuts, peanuts and cashews are all plant products. Now, plants don’t have a liver. And anything that is plant-based is not a source of cholesterol. But they do have something called phytosterol. And phytosterol is useful to women, especially when they are menopausing. The next time you feel dull and down, grab a handful of peanuts, not dark chocolate. Dark chocolate exaggerates the drama that you are making of your life, peanut gives you the confidence that all is well with you.

The YFLO committee gathers around Rujuta after the session.


It’s 100 per cent okay to have rice. Whenever Kareena, who is one of my oldest clients, has a big shoot — and somehow in Bollywood whenever a song is being shot, the heroine’s midriff is seen a lot — 10-15 days prior to that, we’ll make sure that it’s dal-chawal or dahi-chawal in the night for her.

In India, a party is successful only if dinner is served after 1am! By the time we eat, almost everything we eat is bad for us. But if you want to go to that party sporting a flat stomach, three days before the party, start eating dal-chawal.

Rice has always been something you eat at night because it is easy to digest. After sunset, digestion slows down, so it’s better to eat a grain which is easy on the stomach. To make the best use of it, eat the rice with a pulse, like dal, or eat it with dahi, or kadhi, and if nothing else, have it with milk.

And pay attention to what time you are eating. Have your dinner at least two to three hours before you go to bed.

Walking is not an exercise

The amount of exercise we need to be fit and free from metabolic diseases is 150 minutes per week. So, two-and-a-half hours per week. But we need it week after week, month after month, year after year.

Along with exercise, also stay active throughout the day. Active means doing small jobs by yourself. Not waiting for someone to get you your water, or tea or washing up after you.

Walking is an activity. Walking is not an exercise. Exercise is when you are doing a challenging activity, like yoga, group cardio, a run, weight training. One doesn’t make up for the other. You need both. If you’ve been sitting for half an hour, make sure you stand for three minutes. For every 30 minutes of sitting, stand at least for three minutes.

Exercise is not a compensation for eating correctly. If you are eating correctly, it keeps you in a state of mind to exercise. That’s when you comply with your plans of exercise. Eat correctly so that you are able to keep up with your plans of exercising.

Text: Samhita Chakraborty

Pictures: Rashbehari Das