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Eat well to lose weight: Tips from an enlightened foodie!

All of us want to lead a healthy life. Yet, we don’t want to forego the tasty stuff! Is there any acceptable combination of abstinence and indulgence in our life?

I have heard many nutritionists, dietitians and health experts speaking on this subject. But, when I talked to Atraeyee Suman, I found that there is something unique about what she says. I thought, it should be shared with all my readers.

I have reproduced below, some portions of my conversation with her on the subject.  Please read and give your views.


Atraeyee spent a few  years as Management executive in her dad’s business venture at Vadodara (India) after her education. Later became a lecturer and then quickly moved over to Bangalore and became a Research Associate at IIMB. Married to Suman Mondal, she is now passionate about spreading her unique ideas on health, healthy diet, recipes, healthy cooking, and body fitness.

1     People are bored and fed up with similar diet suggestions for weight loss given by all those experts. Everyone seems to say only one thing. 'Eat fresh fruits and vegetables. Don't take fatty food (especially non-veg) and oil! Take only fiber rich food’.

      Do you have anything different to say on this?

 I would like to give an explanation first: Why they say eat fresh and say no to Non-veg?

       The idea is to eat fresh and “alive” food. When vegetables are green or fruits are fresh – they are alive. They still have some life left in them. When they decay they become dry and they change colour. The idea is to eat living food – “life gives life” same as we give birth to babies.

    Living food is lighter on digestive system and easier to digest. We don’t do enough physical exercise to digest muscles. Water takes 15 mins to digest; milk takes 20 mins to digest, fruits take 30 to 45 mins to digest. A full course vegetarian meal takes 3 hours minimum to digest. Fish takes 4 to 6 hours to digest depending on the consumption and the method of preparation. Chicken takes 7 to 8 hours to digest and other types of meats take more time to digest. It creates a lot of pressure on our digestive system to digest muscles.  Eat what your body can digest.

·        If you do physical exercise for 3 hours a day, it is fine to eat non veg. I eat non-veg as I teach/ train exercises for almost 4 hours a day. By exercise I mean proper exercises like yoga, Pilates, weights, power yoga, physiotherapy, swimming, etc. this does not include walking in house or office. I advocate and advice 40 years + people to “exercise” instead of walking as it creates unnecessary pressure on knee and heels.

      We can’t bite a living fish or chicken, but we can go pluck a fruit and bite it – as it’s not going to scream or make you feel guilty about it.  If we cut the chicken and consume it in 1 hour - it will still give some nutrition to our body. Now days even chicken are grown quicker than their normal growth cycle.  Plus thanks to the preservatives and frozen concepts it’s difficult to find out what is fresh and which is chemically treated to look fresh.

         Plastics and preservatives intake increases the level of toxins in our body which are the root cause of all kinds of diseases.

        We advise to eat  fish compared to chicken because fish swims in water and is constantly exercising as a result of which it has a softer and flexible muscle (compared to chicken, goat or any other meat) which is easier for the human digestive system to digest. These days chicken, goat, pig, etc. just stay in one place and don’t get a chance to graze in field as a result of which they have fatty meat and it’s difficult to digest.
      We don’t know if the meat had any disease before it was dead so indirectly it’s transferred in to our body.

  When you are in a weight loss program the idea of the program is to convert your body‘s excess fat into muscle and energy. If your digestive system is busy digesting the muscles you eat from out side, it can never focus on digesting or using the fat present in your body.  For example, if you are busy washing and cleaning the house entire day and you don’t have time to sit and relax – you can’t concentrate on decorating the house.  Same way if your digestive system is constantly working on digesting all the unnecessary food you keep eating constantly entire day it can’t concentrate on nutrition distribution, energy conversion and so on.

       Once you reach bone and muscle weight and you start understanding the combination of exercise, food, weight, nutrition and calories – it’s easier to play with them and eat food at right time.

My advice to everyone is – eat Non-Veg between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. in the morning as brunch. So that your digestive system can take entire day to digest it and by the time you sleep at night the meat is already digested and it won’t create unnecessary pressure on your digestive system. Thus fat won’t be created in your body.

2.      People are so busy these days. They can't always keep cooking healthy stuff at home. They need to munch on fast food to save time and energy for doing productive work. And domestic help is a luxury.

      Is it practical to suggest that one should always consume 'home cooked food'?

Each one of us get the same amount of time, it’s all about choices we make. Being healthy is an everyday conscious choice and effort. If you can’t put in efforts for your health today – you won’t have a healthy future after 40. The career for which you are working so hard will become a dream if you don’t have a health/ body / strength to support your ambition. Learn to give time to your body and make conscious choices. If you are eating out – stick to fresh cooked food like roti, dal and sabji instead of fast food.

If you observe, food commercials that come on TV, radio, magazine and other mode of communication - they try to convince you to eat chips, heath bars, ready-made curry, health drinks, cold drinks, fast food, etc. The advertisers present the ads in such a manner that they look delicious and appealing. It’s all in mind and playing with psychology. If they can play with your psychology, influence your choices, why cant you? Why can’t you play with your mind, senses and convince yourself to eat healthy. By healthy I mean fresh food with no preservatives. It’s better to eat home-made besan laddoos made of pure ghee than munching packed baked chips, health bars, health drinks, etc. 

It is practical and possible to cook at home and at the same time have a corporate life. Every one who is successful today in life with good health is doing it. Pick up any actor, politician, rock star, sports personality, business tycoon, social worker, etc. who is fit and read their life style stories – you will get a clear idea why they are on top with good health.

3.      In many countries, rice is one of the staple diets. Easy to cook and easier to digest.

      But why do many health experts say 'No' to rice?

Rice/ wheat/ potatoes are important and we should eat them once a day as carbohydrates are needed to digest food. But the quantity of the rice intake has to be reduced. Instead of a plate full of rice, we should eat one cup of rice along with one cup of vegetables and one cup of dal. The idea is to eat balance diet where carbs, proteins, minerals, etc . in equal quantity.

In the earlier days, people used to work in farms, factories, do house work , walk miles, etc. because of which it was easier for them to digest so much of carbohydrates and plus they needed that much carbohydrates to generate energy. In our present lifestyle we are sedentary in nature. We have maids, washing machines, microwaves, cars etc., as a result of which we don’t have a high physical activity. Our bodies don’t need to that much food what our parents or grand parents ate because their life style was different and our lifestyle is different.  

Life style has changed but we have forgotten to change our eating style. Eating Style needs to be changed, we need to reduce intake of carbohydrates but not stop them.

4.      What are your suggestions for cutting down body weight?

Eat on time and eat healthy.  Eat quantity and quality.  We actually need to eat a lot to reduce weight.

Each one of us should eat huge breakfast. Breakfast is the main meal of the day and the digestive system is working in full swing till 11 am in the morning. Even if you eat an entire chicken in the morning it will get digested. Eat light lunch with combination of dal, sabji and rotis or a bowl of rice. Have a lighter dinner by 7 pm consisting of fruits, vegetable soups or any lighter snack.

We need to shut down the digestive system and let it sleep as you sleep at night. Once our digestive system gets the required rest – we will automatically become healthy. Thin is an outcome of being healthy, becoming thin should not be the goal.

5.      What is the 'unique' breathing exercise you talked about for maintaining appropriate body weight?

I combine breathing with yoga, Pilates and physiotherapy. The idea is to breathe properly so that the exercises have proper impact on the body. If you don’t breathe properly as directed the exercises will have half the impact. Ask your trainer / yoga teacher/ physiotherapist to teach you proper breathing technique along with the exercises.

6.       Can you please tell about your own weight reduction drive?

My fitness goals have changed drastically over the past couple of months: from a couch potato to a wannabe runner and intense practitioner to an individual who just likes to move her body whenever possible (in as much as possible scenic and/or fun settings). I am no longer “exercising” – I have decided to quit the mentality of obligation and embrace the freedom to sprint in open fields – quite literally sometimes!

I have two ligaments torn in my right knee – SIDE and ACL ligament. So you can imagine how bad it can be. If I don’t exercise I would start limping the next day and my knee will start paining. For me fitness is a necessity not a choice. I have to be on my bones and muscles weight so that I can walk properly. It took me 6 months of struggle to convert fat in to muscles.

For years I’ve struggled to find enjoyment in “working out” – and I only succeeded when I completely suspended the notion that it’s an obligatory, painful process. Exercise is natural to living; every day, we move our bodies and burn energy. That’s all it is: moving the body! If it’s also purposeful – for instance, walking to a destination or through a beautiful trail in the forest (instead of walking in place on a treadmill staring at a screen), it’s beneficial on so many more levels. I’ve learned that if we’re enjoying moving our bodies and we’re not straining them, then endorphins are released – making the process both enjoyable and constructive to cells. On the other hand, overly strenuous, boring or painful exercise is destructive because of oxidative stress and free radical production that destroys cells!

In line with this concept, I make an effort to purposefully move my body throughout the day as much as possible. I take the stairs more often and choose to walk instead of drive to a nearby location. In addition to the more ‘typical’ exercise activities I mentioned earlier – walking, strength training and sprinting – I also enjoy dancing (specifically garba ), hiking in scenic places, and climbing. Vipassana Meditation has been the best experience so far. Detoxification gave me a clean body and has reduced hair fall. Life is good

Atraeyee says: "I cook. I eat. I make others eat healthy. I can create low calorie version of any oily dish and can say what is the best time to eat it"

7. Can you give a diet plan for..
a) An overweight person withoutdiabetes/BP/Cholesterol

Eat a large/filling breakfast, lighter lunch and lighter dinner. Sleep with lighter stomach not with 1.5 Kgs of undigested food in it. We all make the mistake of eating at 10 pm and sleeping at 1.30 am at night. Eat by 7 pm and sleep by 11 pm maximum at night. Sleep for 8 to 9 hours give your body rest and love your body and self. Don’t criticize, judge or hate your body. Unless you accept your own body, you can’t change yourself, forget about changing others.

b) An overweight person with diabetes

Same rule.

Eat well, eat fresh and eat home made. Avoid plastics and preservatives, drink water in glass or steel bottles instead of plastic bottles.  First the intake of plastics and preservatives has to be stopped only then cleaning/ detoxification can start. Eat heavy breakfast, lighter lunch and lightest dinner. Eat when you are hungry not when it's time to eat.

c) An overweight person with BP and Cholesterol

Eat home made pure ghee and eat home made pure butter instead of market purchased ghee and butter. Eat food that has no preservatives and that doesn’t come in plastic packets. BP or cholesterol doesn’t happen due to oil alone, it happens due to improper food habits, late sleeping habit and giving unnecessary stress on body and mind. Sleep 8 hours, eat on time and be happy.
8 am breakfast, 12 pm lunch and 7 pm dinner.

Eat when you feel hungry not when you get emotional pressure to eat, if you are hungry at night due to your life style then stick to green tea, milk, home-made snacks, kakra and fruits.

8. You experiment on healthy recipes. Why don't you suggest a few recipes anyone without much 'culinary skills' can experiment at home?

Healthy recipes are available on my website   and FB Page Revise DietYour readers can interact with me with their queries.

              9. Anything else you would like to say?

Love your body and don’t judge yourself. It’s not about looking good it’s about becoming healthy. Once you’re healthy you will automatically look / feel good. We get only one body in life – artificial parts and medicines can’t replace the original body gifted to us by nature. Respect yourself respect your body if you don’t give importance, no one else will. Give time to your body be patient with it. It takes its own sweet time.

Please send your views and comments on the above interview by clicking the COMMENTS below. 

                                                                                 (c) Sibichen K Mathew
Click below to read related articles on the topic

Tell Me, What Should I Eat?


  1. After reading the conversation you posted , Sibi, yes recent past I started taking breakfast since I am suffering form Gastro and looking fat. you missed a part about consumption of alcohol. Which I reducing gradually.
    But two things I am not able to do is :-
    i) getting up early morning to do exercise or walk
    ii) having dinner by 7 PM due to my profession
    To keep fit I TRY to follow the suggestion given by Atrayee.
    May God Bless

    1. Thanks Srini. 'Alcohol', it seems, an yet to be researched area for Atraeyee! But all of us know, anything excess is dangerous. All the best in your healthy journey. Munch some healthy snacks at 7 pm. Now I need to get motivated from you!

  2. Wow! That makes some sense. Living things give life.

    Unless you accept your own body, you can’t change yourself, forget about changing others.

    She sure knows what she's talking about.

    Thanks for sharing! :-)

    1. Thanks Rekha. Yes, 'Self Respect' includes respecting our own body!

  3. Wow! That makes a lot of sense.

    Living things give life.

    She sure knows what she's talking about.

    Thanks for sharing! :-)

  4. I was fed up with suggestions like "Don't eat this & Don't eat that". This post has given information when, why and how to eat, which will lead to sensible eating habits. Thank you so much for the information.

    Will look forward for your next post.

  5. Thanks Ranjana. You are right, one needs to have sensible eating habits!

  6. absolutely true!! I started following these principles after reading Rujuta Diwekar's book.. Dont loose your mind loose your weight.. she promotes the exact above methods.. eat well to loose more.. this was a very insightful post.. :)

  7. A very good read and so informative. I do understand the fact that "Living things give life" but I have a question.

    I am in Philippines nowadays and the diet of local people out here majorly consist of Pork and beef. And I have been observing people a lot and 99% of the people have great skin and unbelievable soft and shiny hair which I believe are signs of good health. It makes me wonder "Is it because of meat they eat?" or "Should I also start eating meat?"

  8. Thanks for publishing the interview. Very informative. Here is an interesting article: Why aren't the Japanese fat?

    Three quarters of the article is for the "Wow" and "I feel guilty" effect. Meat (pun unintended) lies at the bottom quarter. You don't want to miss the conclusion.

  9. I exactly agree with your point..And it is said by experts that type of food which we consume will cause to weigh more.,.But not the quantity of food!!You have written it well..Thanks for sharing your articles.


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