Say No To Copy-Paste Diet Plans

Posted: August 8, 2011

There is no one ‘best diet plan’. How to choose a healthy diet plan that suits you – and a delicious paneer recipe!

Hands up if this is you: health-conscious, visit the gym at least thrice a week, do cardio, lift weights, swim lengths or get some other form of exercise regularly – and – eat sensibly but have nothing to show for it. You cross the i’s and dot the t’s as dictated by the gym trainer/nutritionists and are getting more than a little frustrated that you are not reaching your health goals – be it weight loss or losing belly fat or simply feeling more fit. If this is you, chances are your diet plan is not working as effectively as it should.

I am sure the nutritionist attached to your gym has given you an extensive and exhaustive ‘balanced diet plan’ of what to eat when (‘Buttermilk at 10.00 AM’ followed by two Marie biscuits an hour after) but how sure are you that the advice is sound? I have friends gymming in Mumbai and Bangalore with more or less the same list of ‘must eats’. Obese, under-weight, prepping for a half-marathon – well, I have seen no separate diet profile for anyone.

Building the best diet plan – for you

Based on personal experience and what I have gleaned from friends’ complaints, the nutrition advice doled out by the gym boffins is generally faulty. Take my case: I was a petite 5’2”, carrying an extra 15 kilos and considerable inches. My gym buddy, though much taller, had different fitness goals. I was a vegetarian; she ate everything in sight. Despite these, we followed more or less identical fitness routines and diet. No wonder these so-called healthy diet plans fail us!

Here’s a novel thought – how about following a diet plan that is built around your particular nutritional needs and wants? One that compliments your fitness routine? A healthy diet plan that is customized for your fitness goals, according to your health issues, one that is tailor-made for YOU?

Here’s a novel thought – how about following a diet plan that is built around your particular nutritional needs and wants? One that compliments your fitness routine?

That sure is an exciting thought but where do you go for it? The first thing you have to do is get your blood work done. Get tested for vital health indicators like cholesterol levels, thyroid function etc. This helps identify your problem areas and thereby, formulate your fitness goals, for example, reduce body fat percentage, lower bad cholesterol and so on.

Your fitness goals and your current health conditions determine your final diet template. For example, like many people, if your aim is to lose excess fat, then it will help if you rearrange your eating patterns slightly. Eat more of protein and good fats in your main meals and save the carbohydrates for the meal that follows your gym workout. Fill 2/3rd of your plate with freshly cooked vegetables that have been cooked in good fats.

It really is that simple! Eating like this means you are not depriving yourself of anything, thereby making you less likely to sneak downstairs at midnight and dig into the ice cream carton. It is very difficult to feel like you are on a ‘diet’ (cue tragic music) when you are tucking into your favourite vegetables sautéed in butter, with a portion of eggs cooked the way you like or with a hunk of paneer. As there is nothing ‘diet-y’ about this meal, the whole family can tuck in – what better news for a mum trying to lose the post-baby weight?

On the other hand, if you are an athlete and want to improve your sports performance, your goals and therefore the diet options cannot be the same as a diet for weight loss. In the words of my fitness coach Raj Ganpath, you must “Eat enough to recover well, eat plenty of nutrient rich foods, eat enough (modified) traditional foods to satisfy caloric needs, eat plenty of protein and carbs on training days and protein and fat on rest days.”

…do not fall into the trap of copying someone else’s diet plan just because they have lost three dress sizes in 6 weeks. That is the worst kind of mistake you could do to your health. 

Above all, do not fall into the trap of copying someone else’s diet plan just because they have lost three dress sizes in 6 weeks. That is the worst kind of mistake you could do to your health.

In the meantime, enjoy this supremely yummy paneer curry. It is easy to make, nutritious, filling and bowl-licking tasty!

Paneer Curry in Coconut Milk Gravy

Ingredients

  •  Paneer, 50 gms per person
  • Ghee /oil – 2 tablespoons
  • Onion – 1, medium, diced
  • Ginger – 1 tsp, crushed
  • Garlic – 1 tsp, crushed
  • Cinnamon stick – 1”
  • Bay leaf – 1 leaf, torn
  • Clove – 2-3
  • Coconut milk, 250 ml
  • Salt, to taste
  • Garam masala, to taste
  • Coriander leaves, 2 tbsp

Method

Cut the paneer into cubes and sauté them lightly in 1 tbsp of ghee /oil. Strain and keep the paneer aside. In the same kadai, top up the ghee/oil. Over a low flame, add the cinnamon stick, bay leaf, cloves and garam masala and saute them for 2 minutes.

Slowly add the onion and sauté till translucent. Mix the crushed ginger-garlic with the cooked onions.

Once the raw smell disappears, slowly add the coconut milk. If using freshly squeezed coconut milk, use the 3rd and then the 2nd extraction. Stir to mix it well. Let the stew bubble and thicken a bit.

Add the paneer chunks and top with the 1st extraction of coconut milk. Serve in bowls, garnished with fresh coriander.

Disclosure: Raj Ganpath, a fitness trainer linked to and quoted in this article is personally known to the author.

Mother, writer, foodie, margarita lover, Lavanya is the exception to the rule that women are

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Comments

2 Comments


  1. It is a very important issue discussed here. Customisation is necessary in case of well being. Also always thought of combining pander with coconut milk but never felt confident enough and never found any recipe. This recipe will be a new addendum in my cooking book!

  2. Chandrima,
    Did you try the recipe? Paneer and coconut milk is a super tasty combo that I love, love, love. It’s high protein-good fat quotient is just a big tick in its favour, right behind the yummilicious taste!

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