Why Your Grandparents’ Diet Won’t Work for You: A Nutritionist Weighs In

Delhi-based nutritionist Avni Kaul answers our questions regarding weight loss, eating what our grandmothers ate, and that dreaded word ‘dieting’.

Even as a teenager, Avni Kaul was fascinated by articles and TV shows on food, nutrition, healthy recipes, and physical exercises. “As a kid, I had a lot of questions about food like, why do we eat a particular food, how much water should I take throughout the day, and so on,” says the Delhi-based nutritionist and founder of wellness consultancy Nutri Activinia.

Perhaps due to these questions, she took up B.Sc and later Master’s in nutrition from Delhi University, after which the desire to help people with their health goals pushed her to think out of the box and start her own venture. We asked her some questions that were on our mind.

There’s a lot said these days about “eating the food your grandparents used to eat”. What are your thoughts on this?

Today we are surrounded by all kind of technologies, comforts and economic infrastructures. We drive the best cars, we travel across the world in a few hours, and so on. We consider our generation to be far ahead than our ancestors; we smile when we see our grandparents struggle to use a smartphone. Technologically, yes, we have gone far ahead but our capacity for physical work has reduced to half. Our hair turns grey earlier and we have more stomach infections than they did.

On the other hand globalization has made our world smaller and hence we consume soups, sushi, momos, pizzas, burgers and so on, which probably weren’t available earlier. People have started to try new foods and new flavours. So the same concepts from those times can’t be applied to today. Though we need to reduce the consumption of junk foods as much as possible, one does want more variety in one’s diet.

What is your take on the various fad diets out there?

Losing weight is a slow process, but people want quick results. You may have heard about Paleo, Atkins or Ketogenic, all of which are fad diets and are seen as a quick fix. But, unfortunately, there is no such thing. Although you may lose a few pounds at first, you would not sustain the weight loss in the long run. As soon as you stop restricting your calorie intake, you will put the weight back on again. To successfully lose weight, you really need to think about your lifestyle as a whole. Aim to eat a healthy, balanced diet and build some activity into your daily life.

The word ‘dieting’ itself is a bit depressing for someone who needs to lose weight! How do you motivate your clients away from emotional eating?

Physiologically, we are programmed to eat when stressed. However, there are some ways by which you can motivate your clients away from emotional eating. Every client is unique. I motivate them by identifying their goals, discovering new possibilities, removing obstacles and creating an action plan and follow up.

Avni Kaul at work

Tell us about your favourite success story.

One of my favorite success stories is helping advocate Gaurav Goyal to lose 15 pounds weight and help him win the Biggest Loser Challenge contest. Gaurav’s diet was tailored based on his work routine, needs and taste preferences. I altered his lifestyle a little and instead of dull or boring food intake, I made his existing diet more balanced. Soon he lost 15 pounds and improved his immunity and overall health.

When is it time to see a nutritionist?

People come to nutritionists only when they are diagnosed with a particular medical condition like diabetes, cholesterol, or obesity. However, good nutrition is more preventive than curative.

Say, if you are prone to cold and flu and every weather change starts with your cough and cold. Do you want to keep taking medicines like painkillers, anti-allergic pills and antibiotics every season for rest of your life? Or do you want your body to develop the immunity and strength to fight cold and fever? Such a thing is possible by enhancing your nutritional intake and with a little change in daily lifestyle.

 What are your top tips for those trying to eat healthily?

Since there is no single food that can give us every nutrient that our body needs, we have to follow Variety, Balance and Moderation in our meal:

Variety: We must eat from a variety of food items and food groups to obtain all the nutrients required by the body.

Balance: We must learn to balance our daily food intake. Remember too much or too little are both bad for our diet.

Moderation: Remember there is no good or bad food! The key is eating in moderate portions; yes, even your favourite food!

First published in eShe’s March 2019 issue


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