17 January 2010

Don’t lose your mind, lose your weight – Rujuta Diwekar

Like many women, I get my quota of tips and theories on health, diet, cooking, exercise, grooming, personal care, yada yada from 3 main sources – friends / colleagues, internet and the magazines at the local beauty parlour. Left to myself, this is the kind of book I would never pay good money and buy. And if someone gifted it to me, I would have certainly treated that as a grievous error of judgement.

Anyway, I ended up buying this book last week because: (i) my colleague and boss have been quoting from this book one-too-many times and (ii) I had to buy something for the value of some items I returned at Landmark and (iii) I found this on the ‘Best Seller’ shelf!!!

I have to say that I’m rather happy I bought it. It is intriguing and engaging enough to be a single-sit read. And after that, it will still be useful as a reference book.

In this book, Rujuta talks about the dysfunctional, abusive relationship many of us have with our stomachs, our bodies and ourselves. She sets out unambiguously and with powerful reasoning, the pitfalls of the ‘short-term, quick-results, weight and dress-size’ oriented approach we have to food and exercise (the book is more about the former than the latter). She encourages us to count the ‘nutritive’ value of the food we eat and not the ‘calorific’ value. She also goes on to give a short course on the basic food groups and the importance of each in making us function well.

As expected, she takes a hard line with most of the popular contemporary approaches – crash diets, atkins, south beach, lime-juice & honey, olive oil cooking, low fat food, sugar-free food, ‘good’ food / ‘bad’ food, ….. – you name it.

Chapter 4 ‘The four principles of eating right’ is actually a quick summary of the book. (Not getting into that here – read the book! – it’s worth it). If I have to give you a short summary of the book it will be this – ‘Eat whatever you want, just change the order / sequence of your eating. Eat more often, about 3 main meals and 4 / 5 small meals a day. Think nutrition, not calories. Do not ‘punish’ yourself. Exercise at least 3 hours a week.’

The good part of the book is that it tells us ‘why’ and ‘how’, not just ‘what’. Rujuta’s tone is one of mild incredulity – as if she were saying – ‘you look intelligent, then why would you do this?’ The style is pleasantly conversational – you can almost imagine her sitting across the table smirking here, chiding there and doling out ‘gyaan’ after that. The arguments and explanations are extremely lucid. The analogies with non-food aspects like car, politics (!) etc. drive her point home.

This book is meant for the contemporary Indian reader, the food references are Indian and the examples / cases come alive – and that is very good. What is not so good, is that it has so much ‘Hinglish’ - It can ‘put-off’ a non-Hindi person sometimes, and that would sadly limit its reach.

The timing of the book and the writer have capitalized on the ‘Kareena Kapoor is size zero’ phenomenon – Rujuta being Kareena's dietician. There are many references to Kareena through the book in addition to a dedicated section in the appendix. Also, I do think the book deserved a better title. But I suppose all these are part of marketing - ‘eye-ball’ and ‘interest’ grabbing tactics. It may rankle some of us, but the content is good enough to make one overlook these.


  1. Very timely post! my recent photos indicate I am going the fat, fatter and fattest route :-(

    Hope the book gives me a good start if not more! so... buying it today :-)

  2. Heh heh. I have started following it too. My stomach has now actually started 'talking' to me. :-)

  3. I had read some excerpts from it, and it actually was quite badly written so never felt tempted to pick it up. maybe shall afer this.

  4. @Cynic: It could have done with better writing. True.

  5. @suki:I agree she knows her stuff; following her principles even for a day makes u feel the difference.

    @cynic:I also agree her writing is rather crude. I used to say a prayer ending with 'prabhate kar darshanam'. I can never say that again, you will know why if u manage to read the book this time around ;-(