Over the past few months I have read a bunch of newly published books on weight loss, healthy living, eating wisely and dieting. All the books seem to be targetted at women, all though men too would benefit hugely from reading these. Ishi Khosla gives practical advice on how to measure quantities of food (with the actual size of a cup printed), to eat regularly and healthy. More than going on a crash diet to lose weight, it is more about managing one’s time, health, food etc.
Charmaine D’Souza discusses the importance of understanding your ingredients and how a fair knowledge of kitchen herbs and spices ensures a healthy living. She explains the spices, their properties and then lists some common ailments that are easily prevented or treated at home. For novices the line drawings of the spices will also help in recognising the spices and herbs being discussed. Recently I had a long discussion on Skindalous Cuisine ( A Facebook group that discusses food and shares recipes) about recipes that use Kalonji or onion seeds. It is rarely used in cooking despite it being extraordinarily beneficial for the health. According to Charmaine D’Souza these seeds have been used medicinally for over 3,000 years. It is used to treat ailments including asthma, bronchitis, rheumatism and related inflammatory diseases. Also skin infections and cold symptoms too. But from the discussion group I discovered that it is rare to find recipes using this spice since it is usually offered as prasad to the gods. Hence it is used sparingly in Indian cuisine.
Sheela Nambiar writes for the Indian Woman. Her advise is to stop agonising about chasing the pipe-dream of achieving a Size Zero figure, instead concentrate on getting fit than just losing weight. She has packed her book with loads of tips on how to manage oneself. How to exercise while scrambling to finish the day’s chores. There are few illustrations but easy to understand.
Reenita Malhotra Hora also advocates a healthy living but by relying upon Ayurveda.
All the books mentioned are useful to have and read. Also to practice. I would even go to the extent of saying how empowering these texts are in teaching a person, especially a woman, on how to manage her time, her diet, her health. It is well-known that women always compromise on their health and needs. For most of the time they are so focused on their family, children, careers etc that they do not think twice about neglecting their own needs. Little realising that self-preservation is very important. My only concern about these books is that they may be bought, they will inspire but to sustain these diets and routines is expensive. It will be an added expense to a family’s budget, it will be a strain on the women (who are inevitably in charge of the kitchens) to create a separate dish for themselves etc especially after all the needs, requirements and demands of the family are met. It is much easier for many women then to be accommodating and eat whatever is put on the table, rather than assert themselves. So the purpose that these books set out to achieve will be negated. Unless these authors instead of taking on only high-society clientele actually design and distribute meals suitable for a person on a diet. These could be according to the requirements (and budget) of the client. Thus ensuring that for a nominal fee, the dietician gets a new client and the client has a stress-free way of managing their diet. The food arrives at their door step, with the right size of portions. I am not sure how feasible it is to conduct such programmes in India given distances, weather conditions etc but I hear that these are being done in America and are actually working.
On a related note. Devapriya Roy has published a novel about the weight loss club in the Nancy Housing Cooperative. It sounds promising. (I have just begun to read it.)