Are you one of those aspiring models or a hard core lover of fat- free body? Before you get into the clutch of fad diet pans or celebrity nutrition / diet advice make sure that you read what, Raksha Changappa, who is an award winning Nutritionist, Nutrition Activist and Advocate founder of Nutrewise, Bangalore, has to suggest.
She depicts that strong desire coupled with hard work can take you to greater heights. Her dedicated enthusiasm in Nutrition and Dietetics has won her many achievements including the late Padma Bhushan Dr MC Modi`s award for meritorious nutritionist.
Could you please tell how and when did you start as a dietitian – nutritionist?
The desire to take up Nutrition & Dietetics at a Bachelors level came as a result of being passionate about the subject. A Masters and a PhD (pursuing) in the same, followed.
I have been a practicing dietitian-nutritionist since seven years, of which the past three have been as an entrepreneur owing to Nutrewise, a Nutrition, Diet & Weight Management consulting service, I founded in 2008.
What are the eating disorders you usually see in fashion models?
Individuals suffering from eating disorders take great pains to hide it and are extremely defensive to probing by any health care practitioner. Infact this may prevent them from taking up further sessions. I thus avoid attempts to get them to confess and instead read between the lines and use (amongst other indicators) their BMI or Body Mass Index e.g. anorexics have low BMIs, and clinical signs e.g. bulemics have knuckle abrasions and damaged teeth enamel as a result of self induced vomiting, as indicators of an underlying problem, and go about the advice in a non confrontational manner. What 90% definitely suffer from is a fear of gaining weight, which is the foundation for any eating disorder to develop.
They say that Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder that is described as a psychiatric condition. According to you how true is this?
As per ICD-10, a system of medical classification maintained by the WHO, Anorexia comes under the category of “Mental and Behavioral Disorders”. Interestingly, the same category also features alcohol intoxication, caffeine intoxication and drug dependence. The point I am making is, those who develop A. Nervosa definitely have a predisposition to it (just like some people have a predisposition to catching cold). But they are no less or no more a “psychiatric” case than those who gets stoned every night or someone who physically abuses another. I feel one should not stigmatize the sufferers by calling them ‘psychiatric’ as it prevents them from seeking help. This being said, it is not a condition to be ignored just like one will not ignore say, an alcoholic.
Most of the fashion models or figure conscious ladies believe that they should starve more to weigh less, could you please comment on this?
The first reaction of your body when you embark on a fasting or starvation diet is panic. It wonders why no food is in the scene and decides that maybe food will never come. A decision is made by your body, whether you like it or not, and that decision is to survive this period of ‘famine’. Your body takes action by lowering its metabolic rate which ensures lesser calories are burnt as compared to before. It also enters into a ‘conservation’ mode, saving all its fuel like its fat stores, for ‘future emergencies’. Starvation makes your body an uncooperative partner in your journey towards weight loss. And, since weight loss is a team effort between you and your body, mind and soul, this is why you will fail.
Does skipping breakfast help you save calories?
Breakfast is your first meal after dinner had 8-9 hours ago and skipping it just to save calories will not only make you have a bad day in form of lowered levels of concentration or attention span, crankiness, fatigue, but you will also make up for the calories you ‘saved’ by over eating in the next 24 hours. Skipping any meal is not recommended.
To have a healthy yet stunning figure what do you recommend? A simple diet plan or just exercise regimen or a combination of both? Why?
If your weight is right for your height, the aesthetics of your appearance are automatically maintained. And, one can attain or maintain the right body weight by just keeping tabs on ones diet. Exercise is not essential to lose weight or even to maintain it, as long as the diet is diligently followed. So yes, you can be slim by just following a well planned diet. However, if one is also looking for good muscle tone, flexibility and other aspects of fitness, then an exercise element has to be incorporated into ones routine.
Could you please give some nutrition tips to maintain a model – like figure without skipping on health?
The modeling profession requires that one travel, network, face erratic schedules and industry pressure. Keeping these in mind, some tips I can give would be:
-Fat contains 9 kcals/g, alcohol contains 7 kcals/g and carbohydrate and protein 4 kcals/g each. Thus, before you start blaming fat or carbs for your weight gain, try eliminating alcohol from your diet.
-A models snack doesn’t always have to be a salad or fruit juice. Try ready made clear soup with toasted bread, a handful of muesli, or a 100 g pack of curd instead. Saves time.
-Be aware of which local or outstation eating joint caters to your dietary needs the best, in terms of having a good selection of grilled, steamed or sauted food. Choose them.
-Curb the desire to `Dial a pizza’ every time you feel too tired to cook. On that day, a simple rice plus readymade curd meal is way better for your figure. Invest in packaged soups, ready to eat/semi cooked wheat chapattis, whole wheat bread and fruits, as emergency meal options.
-Don’t buy food items you know are your weakness eg: ice cream or chocolate or chips. Never think that you can buy and stock them at home without overeating. You can’t.
Some say that weight loss gimmicks are the best and easy way to lose weight and gain that fat free figure. How far are these weight loss gimmicks helpful?
Weight loss gimmicks usually involve the following:
Gadgets assuring ‘exercise without exercising’ e.g. belts, machines; Creams/gels/oils/powder and even tablets which promise to ‘dissolve fat naturally’; Body massages/packs; Fad diets ranging from Blood Group Type to Dukan to Atkins to Baby Food Diet; Try them if you get the urge to risk health, time and money and remember, they don’t work.
Celebrities say that they live on fruit juice diet alone to get a slim and curvaceous body frame. How far is this fruit juice diet fad reliable?
I would advice everyone to take what a celebrity from the glamour industry says, with a pinch of salt. Acting on health advice given by them is the last thing one should do. Remember they (actors and models) are professionals, who work for a living just like the rest of the world. The only difference is that their choice of occupation keeps them in the limelight. So does this make them superior at deciding which health information is accurate and should be supplied to their fans and which is junk and should be discarded? No. Besides, I won`t even want to start on what unscientific information top personalities in the glamour industry post on their social networking sites as “fitness and diet tips” which gullible fans lap up at the cost of their health. About fruit juice diet, it is impossible for any human being even if it’s a ‘celebrity’ to carry on with daily activities of life and living on just fruit juice. It’s a statement made just to grab eyeballs.
Please share your achievements in this field so far with our readers
•I am a recipient of many prestigious nutrition awards including the India’s best known eye surgeon, the late Padma Bhushan Dr MC Modi`s award for meritorious nutritionist.
•God has been kind and many illustrious individuals have commended my professional merits in a formal manner, including the former Mayor of Bangalore and former MP (Rajya Sabha), Mrs Prema Cariappa.
•I am also the sole proponent of the concept of Nutrition Activism in India, and have had the chance to present my ideas on it to prominent citizens who have appreciated and encouraged me in this regard.
•Nutrition Activism and Advocacy is a concept close to my heart and am working on giving it a formal shape in the coming months.
•Two of my biggest achievements would also be, one, to have established myself as the only nutritionist in the country to whom people turn to not only for better known disorders like obesity, but also in case of unheard or rare conditions like avascular necrosis, systemic lupus, phenylketonuria etc, and two, to be the only nutritionist in the country who offers detailed consulting across the maximum sub-specialties of nutrition (pediatric, adolescent, adult, geriatric, sports).
•My blog, The Nutrition Omnibus, also occupies a place of pride in my heart, as its just 18 days old and already has visitors from across the world. More importantly, the Nutrition Omnibus is special, as it’s my first step towards one of my goals which I will disclose in due time.
How does following a chocolate diet help you in trimming down your fat?
The chocolate diet is one of the best examples of an attractively named false promise. The promise is to lose weight without any effort, a thought which appeals to one and all, and the name “chocolate” assures the followers that if they can eat chocolate to lose weight, then it must be a miracle worth trying.
It is so easy to come up with a fad diet these days. Think of name. Add some exotic and sometimes plain silly food items to the mix. Get a website in place. Put some fake testimonial, like “Doctor Dorothy MD lost 25 pounds”. Add a ‘certified’ nutritionist to the mix (incidentally certificates are not valid qualifications for nutritionists or dietitians, only degrees in the subject are) and voila! You have one money making venture. Please stay away.
Live a healthy life don’t get caught or fooled by fad diet or fake nutrition advise.