De-mystifying diet fads

Deccan Chronicle.  | Reshmi Chakravorty

Lifestyle, Books and Art

The Don’t-Diet Plan: A No-Nonsense Guide to Weight Loss by Kavita Devgan tells us how not to diet

Kavita Devgan

It’s probably the one evergreen topic that finds its way back into discussions: how to lose excess body weight. And everyone, at least once in their life, gives in to the temptation of fad diets that promise one to get “back into shape” but fails.
Elaborating about her book, The Don’t-Diet Plan: A No-Nonsense Guide to Weight Loss, author and acclaimed nutritionist with 20 years of experience as a weight loss and holistic health consultant Kavita Devgan tells us that this book was playing on her mind from when she wrote her first book Don’t Diet: 50 Habits of Thin People in 2016.
“That book listed the habits that keep people thin. And next I wanted to list the strategies that work,” explains Kavita. “So this book kind of got written over a couple of years, one chapter at a time, while I wrote two more books in between.” The only challenge Kavita encountered was to keep the writing style very easy to follow for all her readers and to resist the temptation of throwing in smart, heavy duty technical nutrition phrases.

Keeping it sustainable

According to her, going on a diet when trying to lose weight is not important. In fact, she also warns that following a too-strict diet though effective at first would only backfire.
“The key to real and lasting weight loss is to identify the wrong habits that piled on the weight in the first place; then modifying them. Create a sustainable meal plan tailored to your taste, food preferences and lifestyle. Don’t make it too drastic; it won’t work — if a person prefers Indian breakfast (poha, upma, idli, etc.) switching to oats-only breakfast suddenly is doomed from the word go,” explains Kavita; however she adds that smart alterations — like savoury oats upma once or twice a week — might be a good idea.”
As for the style of writing in the book Kavita says is not preachy. “Instead, I’ve offered readers options to choose from and incorporate in their life at their own pace,” she adds.

A diet plan for the pandemic times

The book probably also is relevant for the times in that the ongoing pandemic has raised a lot of food- and diet-related issues, of which stress-induced binge eating stands out. According to Kavita, eating junk does not reduce stress. “There may be a temporary ‘all’s good with the world’ feel but it will follow with a bigger crash in the mood,” she cautions. “The cycle of “feeling bad–eating–feeling guilty–then feeling worse” is very debilitating. So a better way of handling the pandemic-induced stress is to find ways that actually make a difference — mediation, exercise, chatting with friends, practicing gratitude. Don’t use food as a crutch for getting past tough times.”

Kavita, who’s been giving lectures and conducting workshops about the right way of eating and new research-based health trends for a long time now, loves reading books across all genres, with 70–80% of her reading mostly fiction and travel books. “Some authors I keep going back to, like Murakami, Orhan Pamuk, Arundhati Roy, Kamila Shamsie, Bill Bryson and Pico Iyer,” states the author who also loves fiction written by Asian writers.
The author has a series of books planned for the next 2 years, all in the health genre. While she refuses to open up about what they would be, she does leave us with a bit of a tease, “The wait will be worth it.”