In the era of fast living, people mostly have a great desire to stay fit and look young. Every one of us consciously or subconsciously has made their own definition of “DIET”. Dieting has led to many unhealthy misconceptions about weight loss. People are, on an average, not aware or one can say largely ignorant about Healthy and Unhealthy foods, quantities to be taken and which food items to be encouraged and which to restrict. All this mainly depends on an individual's state in terms of his/her body structure, metabolism, lifestyles, ailments / diseases......

It is good to see, there is tremendous zeal among people to stay fit but for that, there is a requirement to have correct information about fitness methods and its effects and results.

With today’s trend of losing weight I have a lot of patients who have the urge to know "Which food items to encourage in the diet and which ones to restrict?" or "What is best suited for me and what is not?" or “what is the ideal weight loss?”.... With this article I am trying to cover the most commonly asked questions:

  • Does dieting mean an absolute change in the eating pattern and appear weak and look starved?

By dieting everybody obviously means, eating less. This concept should be changed. Dieting actually means eating correctly, large quantities of the right foods and small quantities of the wrong foods. When you eat in this pattern there will be no side effects. It is not completely changing the eating pattern, but a certain addition of foods to nourish bodies so that they are no deficiencies like anemia, and being completely fit, far from being starved and weak.

  • How important is it to exercise for weight loss?

Exercise is a fabulous way and meant to relax, tone body and to improve stamina and not exactly lose weight. You might lose few kilos but to get the results it has to be combined with right kind and amount of food.  One needs to understand the right kind of exercise depending upon individual’s requirement, i.e. age, injuries, and lifestyle. Over-exercise which is done to lose weight faster in most cases leads to frustration and injuries. Including the exercise regime is very important and should be done but in moderation and depending on your requirement.

  • Are foods like mint, lemongrass, cumin seed (jeera), harmful for health?

Since ancient times foods like jeera, coriander, mint is been used in daily life.  Even the health practitioners use garlic and onion to lower the cholesterol, methi seeds and bitter gourd [karela] is used for diabetics. Certain foods act as a “delicious natural capsules” to detoxify, the body, but to understand that the health professional should know the action of the specific food on individuals body as ‘One man’s food can be another man’s poison’ – and  effect of food and drug upon the body differ greatly between individuals.

  • How many meals should be eaten in a day?

Whether you want to lose weight or not but one should have small and frequent meals to keep up the energy levels. This does not mean that you should keep eating the whole day. One should have 3 major meals i.e. breakfast, lunch, dinner and 2 small meals i.e. a mid-morning snack and evening snack to keep up your energy levels and to avoid overeating in the major meals.

  • How much weight does an overweight or obese person should lose? 

It is not always important to be in height weight ratio. The amount of weight loss depends on certain factors like age, body structure, physical activity, illness. This is best decided by the professional. Lose weight to be healthy and disease free and not starved and malnourished.

  • Does weight loss means stop eating and drinking and never getting back to normal life?

It’s about your entire food habits, lifestyle, sleeping pattern, vitamin intake that influences your weight, skin, hair, nails etc. Everything in moderation is the key. Hard drinks can be taken 2-3 times a week, if you really must, totaling up to 4-5 drinks in a week.

  • Are there specific foods that help in weight loss?

There is no one food that decides weight loss. Losing weight means eating but foods like whole grains, rice, soybeans, fish, milk, curd, and eggs, so that you gain in health and lose in weight.

  • Can the diet which works for one person affect the other person too?

There is an ideal diet for a particular type of body constitution. Based on symptoms, your medical problems, your family history of medical problems, your lifestyle, a suitable diet can be designed which will suit your individual needs. The diet has to be designed to increase their energy levels and enhance immunity to handle stress and concentrate better. It is important to first identify body constitution and according to that derive a corrective-eating plan for each individual that covers all meals from morning to bedtime.

With the diet, the complaints ranging from chipped nails, dull complexion, dark circles etc. should vanish, and metabolism and hemoglobin should be improved.

Healthy foods lead to sound health and these should be started from childhood. Lack of exercise, indulging in routine consumption of fast foods, etc leads to many health problems. The importance of diet in maintaining health should not be ignored. Since diet played a major role in controlling diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, etc, it is important to take regular diet counseling from a professional who can understand your body and design the right diet for you.