“Anil Deshmukh and his family are probably the fittest organisers I have ever met. They are so fit! They give me huge complex. It makes me feel good though. Usually when people welcome me with bouquets, their paunches come first and then the bouquets. For the first time in my career, I’ve received a bouquet first,” said wellness and nutrition expert Rujuta Diwekar, in a seminar, on ‘Fitness Funda,’ organised by Koshish Foundation and NIT – GSM. Rujuta, who was responsible for Kareena Kapoor’s zero figure in the film Tashan, even launched the Marathi version of her book ‘Indian Superfoods.’
The do at the jam-packed hall at Chitnavis Centre was attended by the who’s who of Nagpur, including former minister Anil Deshmukh, Lokmat group Chairman Vijay Darda, founder director of Centre Point Group of Schools Aruna Upadhyaya, Chairman Upadhyaya Group of Industries Arun Upadhyaya, President of Koshish Foundation Salil Deshmukh and Rujuta’s mother Rekha Diwekar (who translated Rujuta Diwekar’s books into Marathi).
Rujuta Diwekar, in a freewheeling chat, busted some myths and enlightened the readers on simple nutrition and diet tips for a healthy living. She insisted on following a simple mantra – eat local, think global, and promote our local economy by encouraging our small-scale entrepreneurs. Here are the excerpts of her interaction with Nagpur’s fitness enthusiasts at Chitnavis Centre, who were present at the venue in full attendance, to seek Diwekar’s gyan on ‘how to not lose mind and opt for local food!’
Listed below are some of the Nagpur’s most favourite foods that Diwekar thinks can be consumed without having the guilt of putting those extra kilos.
Samosa: “We should be having samosas but the deep-fried ones, and not the ones that baked in the air fryers,” said Diwekar. She asked the audience, “What would you prefer – Hrithik Roshan giving you a real kiss or a flying kiss?” The women in the audience went hysterical and responded in unison that they’d prefer a real kiss any day. Comparing Hrithik Roshan’s example with the myths surrounding the benefits of air fryer, Diwekar said, “Anybody, who prefers a flying kiss should stick to the air fryer, because then you aren’t even worth living! Please enjoy your deep fried samosas! It offers more in terms of nutrition. She even said that now, gradually, heart and wellness foundations are coming up with a policy statement saying that saturated fat is not bad for the heart. “There’s no correlation between saturated fat and heart diseases. But, consumption of packaged foods (like chips, biscuits, oats, etc) and heart diseases are definitely correlated. Moreover, such foods don’t even contribute to our local economy. This is not something that resonates with the Nagpuri culture! Anything that is made fresh and belongs to season should be consumed. There’s no connection between heart’s health and consumption of samosa but there’s certainly a correlation with being sad and heart diseases. Joh bhi mann maar ke samosa nahi khata hai, usi ko heart attack ke jyaada chances hote hai!”
Diwekar said jokingly, “A person shouldn’t be granted a Nagpur visa if he leaves Nagpur without having a samosa!” Focussing on the importance of local food, she said, “Nowadays, we look down upon local food. Indians consider their food low on prestige. Why is it that we keep looking at something, which comes for outside, as healthy, desirable and cool?”
Saoji: To the audience’s utter surprise, Diwekar convinced non-vegetarians to continue relishing their Saoji. All our ‘ghaas-foos’ (vegetarian friends) friends keep telling us how not to eat meat but there’s no harm in eating saoji as it’s served piping hot.
Diwekar further explained how fasting plays a significant role in balancing our bodies. She said, “We diligently follow Shravan but post Shravan we become Ravan! Our Indian culture of fasting is the best way to keep our bodies in balance and harmony.” She also spoke about how the west is waking up to the culture of ‘Meatless Mondays,’ wherein they strictly turn vegetarian on Mondays, to make sure their digestive system is not overloaded with excessive non-vegetarian food. “We should have patented these practices well before!” she added.
Sabudana khichdi and vadas: “During Navratri, we can enjoy our favourite sabudana khichdi and deep-fried vadas too, as it’s a powerhouse of Omega 3, 6 and 9. Till the time it’s called ‘sabudana,’ we aren’t convinced and it’s ‘empty calories’ for us. The minute it is called ‘cassava,’ it suddenly becomes so healthy!” said Diwekar.
She even said that homemade ghee, which is being used in one of the world’s best hospital Cleveland Clinic, is the best ingredient to fix weak joints and other digestive and heart related issues. It also regulates the blood sugar and nourishes all organs including the brain.
Poha: Diwekar said, “Nagpur is the only city, which enjoys poha with a tarri! (spicy gravy). Poha consists of amino acids that form the building blocks in our body. The West would sell this same poha as ‘gluten free, heart healthy and vegan.”
Santra barfi: She said that our Diwali gifts too have become so westernised. “Instead of exchanging dry fruits, sweets, etc, we gift handmade chocolates to one another, without realising that there’s barely anything handmade in it! We should promote our local economy by relishing our santra barfis too,” said Diwekar.
Sugarcane: Diwekar said that sugarcane is the best way of detoxification ever. “Post Diwali, due to the overload of sweets, fried food, etc, the practice of consuming sugarcane, as a detoxifier, came into being during Tulsi-vivah.” She said that underestimating local food has lead to issues as grave as infertility. She also said that jaggery should be consumed in winters and sharbats in summers, as sugar is a good cooling agent.