Women’s bodies change right through their lifetime. Puberty, pregnancy, thyroid, PCOS, thyroid, menopause, stress – as women go through different stages of life, their bodies too change. To discuss the type of foods that are most beneficial for the different stages, India’s leading nutrition and exercise science expert, Rujuta Diwekar, was interviewed on The Navhind Times, Talk from the Heart show that aired on the Goa 365 channel on March 5.

Diwekar is not only the best-selling author of two books but also the country’s leading speaker on wellness and nutrition and advises India’s elite on nutrition, yoga and Ayurveda. Her philosophy is grounded in traditional Indian thought and food. On the show she shared her insights together with handy solutions for women to live healthier and happier lives.

The most common issue that women come to me with is weight gain and how to handle it,” she shared and explained how women’s bodies change month to month, pre-menstruation, during menstruation and post-menstruation. “If we aren’t equipped in our head and our heart to prioritise ourselves and our health, which is of paramount importance then we lose out on many things and shift the blame to marriage, childbirth, etcetera,” she stressed.

With the ever-changing diet trends, focus on portion control, low calorie food, weight loss and much more, her ideas on food and exercise are appealing as they are balanced and based on common sense. Every diet, she said has a shelf-life but eating sensibly, she highlighted, was eternal and never went out of style. “This is because it accommodates for season and region. Food should be seen as a blessing and not an equation of calories, carbs, fat and protein. It gives life and once this reality dawns, gratitude replaces guilt,” she stressed.

A holistic approach to food, she believes is a way of life that involves consuming seasonal produce and having diversity on the plate. “In Goa, there is so much of variety in the local produce and one should take advantage of this,” she said. She suggested visiting the local market and buying the most local fruits like mangoes, jackfruits, papayas, bananas, love-apples besides others. “Start your day with a fruit or soaked nuts instead of tea or coffee,” she recommended.

Sustainable diets she said was the way forward and defined sustainable diets as time-tested wisdom that we have received orally from our mothers and grandmothers, one that makes us feel in sync with ourselves, our culture, the climate and the cuisine of our family. We are confused about what we are eating, second guessing every morsel that we eat and are constantly looking up the latest diet or weight loss trend. What we must remember is that deprivation in any form, be it in the form of calories, carbs or fats, or simply by going hungry for long hours, will not help us lose weight. Weight loss cannot be the end goal. “And it really helps enhance the quality of our life,” she added.

For those with PCOD, she recommended eating soaked almonds and then 10 days before periods switching to soaked raisins and kesar/saffron. “If you are unable to predict period date, make the switch when you begin to feel bloated or irritated. This can be followed for endometriosis and adenomyosis too,” she said.

Busting two food myths that rice is fattening and ghee causes cholesterol, she emphatically said, “Eat ghee without fear, without doubt or any guilt. Add 1 teaspoon of ghee to your breakfast, lunch and dinner. Also without bhat (rice) there is no life,” Other foods she highly recommended were fresh and seasonal fruits and pulses and lentils.

Signing off she said, “Food is a blessing and deserves attention. You do not need to fix the quantity of food you are eating but pay more attention every time you eat. Just focus all your senses on food.  Remember food is just a part of a big jigsaw puzzle, the others being exercise, sleep, good lifestyle and maintaining a good attitude towards life.