What a Weight Management Plan Should Never Be?

Rujuta Diwekar

Rujuta Diwekar’s refreshingly witty and candid book on weight management, published in the year 2009, is still a hot seller in the category of self-help diet books. The book titled, Don’t Lose Your Mind, Lose Your Weight makes an interesting read on the subject of weight management, backing a common sense approach to weight loss with real life examples and anecdotes. Rujuta, one of India’s top dieticians and fitness trainers, is now ready with her second book, Women and Weight Loss Tamasha scheduled for release next month.

In this article however, we take a fresh perspective of Rujuta’s first book on weight loss, trying to capture the essence and present in a nutshell, what a good weight management plan should never be. We highlight some common mistakes which people make in their weight loss battles and the many myths shrouding the concept of dieting and weight loss, which the book dispels with reasoning.

A Weight Management Plan should never be;

  • Unrealistic or extreme
  • Generalized
  • A Punishment or Compensation
  • A Passing Fad or a Fashion Statement
  • A case for demonising/glorifying certain food
  • A Mental Burden

In the first section of the book, the author points out how diet plans and weight loss goals should always be realistic. Unrealistically optimistic goals coupled with stringent, unscientific diets which involve abstaining from certain food types completely or living only on fruit juices and the like are extremely impractical and non-sustainable. The message on the wall is that if you hate your diet plan or are following it under duress, you are not likely to stick to the plan for long.

Rujuta also emphasizes on the need for tailor –made diet plans as opposed to generalized ones. In the case of diet plans, one size just does not fit everyone requiring customization as per the individual’s profile, body composition, genes, lifestyle, cultural and social background and even taste. Following a diet guru blindly or aping someone else’s diet plan is futile as it may not yield the desired results and leave us feeling frustrated.

One of the concepts which seem to have invited the most caustic remarks from the author is about diet plans being used as a form of punishment for ‘committing the crime of over-eating’. The author trashes the practice of crash dieting, detox and maintenance diets; where social butterflies go on a ‘liquid only’ diet in the day to purge themselves of the sin of indulgence the night before or starve themselves through the day so that they can eat and drink with abandon at the awaited party of the year.

Almost hilariously, the author points out that starving yourself through the day and then loading yourself with food at night when the metabolic rate, physical activity and your digestive system are the slowest is abusing your stomach, akin to perpetrating a human rights violation!

As a corollary to the punishment diets are diet which promise weight loss within weeks even days; diets which are current fads with actresses or models and so become fashion statements. The author explains how the very popular detox diets not only detoxify the body but also drain the body out of nutrients, saps out energy, reduce metabolic rate and play havoc with the mind. According to the author, an effective weight management plan is a life-long exercise not something which can be done in a day to overturn the effect of previous years or even a single night of binging.

Rujuta emphasizes the importance of a balanced diet in every category of food; carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals all have a specific role to play in a healthy intake. She asks readers to be wary of diets which ask you to concentrate on any one category of food or to shun certain food categories completely.

She gives the example of the Atkins Diet, which is quite popular worldwide and works on a low-carb, high protein intake. The author states that if we do not consume carbs at all, proteins are unable to attend to their primary function of cell-building and repair as they have to play the role of energy givers. Also low-carb diets deplete serotonin from the brain leading to mood swings and depression.

According to the author, the so-called miracle food such as soy and protein shakes, fresh fruits and dry-fruits cannot yield miraculous results unless and until they complement a healthy, wholesome diet and an active lifestyle. So a diet which consists of only these and no staples is not the right way to lose weight. Further, she points out that foods lose their nutritional value and add empty calories if not taken at the correct time, so timing is the key in the consumption of any food.

The author exhorts readers not to demonize any category of food or even glorify any food item. She states that the correct way is to eat anything, everything in moderation, judiciously and at the right time to add to your health.

Lastly as the title of the books suggests, the issue of weight loss should not make you lose your mind. In fact, ironically, stressing over weight loss can actually lead to weight gain as stress triggers off the emergency mode for the body which starts hoarding reserves of food leading to layers of fat. Rujuta advises that rather than holding yourself to ransom over the weighing scale every day; it is much more important to aim for a fit body, a calm mind and a fulfilling life as they hold the key to real contentment.

For me as a reader, the essence of the book can be summed up in this one line from the author which appears in the Cheat Sheet at the end of Chapter 1: “Never go on a diet; modify your lifestyle.

Don’t Lose Your Mind, Lose Your Weight is a publication by Random House India.

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