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All is wellness – brunch feature

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Diets and workouts are passé. Well-being of the body, mind and soul is the mantra for holistic health today as people had to make do with home-cooked meals and zero access to gyms (unless they had one at home) during the lockdown! It’s this shift in the focus that’s making the country’s top nutritionists and fitness experts zoom in on the broader spectrum.

While celebrity fitness expert Deanne Panday is all for “physical well-being”, nutritionist to the stars, Rujuta Diwekar, calls food a “blessing”. The two have translated their evolved approach into books that’ll change the way people perceive diets and exercise. Here’s a look…

Balancing act

“Joy and creativity are the aspects in life that need to be enhanced right now”

–Deanne Panday   

“Bring him in!” says celebrity fitness expert Deanne Panday and excuses herself as we start to chat about her new book, Balance. “That’s my dog Peach. He’s so naughty! I love animals and let him do whatever he wants,” she laughs.  

This joyful approach also embodies her book, which covers 13 aspects of wellness to lead a happy and healthy life. 

“People are obsessed with fitness and diet. But for me, wellness and the health of the body, mind and soul is a very broad spectrum and this book helps you understand that this [the pandemic] is not the time to diet or do harsh workouts. Many aspects of your life are to be given primary importance right now and what’s on your plate is only secondary because at this point people are going through financial issues, career setbacks, relationship issues etc. So, joy and creativity are the aspects in life that need to be enhanced right now. A lot of home cooking is happening too, which helps deal with these issues during tough times,” she says. 

“I did workouts with toilet rolls, and used the steps and terrace to create workouts” —Deanne Panday

The book is peppered with personal anecdotes and Deanne talks about physical well-being. “I did workouts with toilet rolls (when there was a shortage in the US), used the steps, terrace and all kinds of outdoor workouts to explain to people that movement and motivation is important,” she explains. 

Deanne’s first book, I’m Not Stressed, on how fitness, meditation, yoga and nutrition help deal with stress, became a national bestseller within a month and her second book was a fitness bible called Shut-up And Train! However, she wrote this third book after five years. 

Deanne Panday’s book covers 13 aspects of wellness to lead a happy and healthy life

Deanne Panday’s book covers 13 aspects of wellness to lead a happy and healthy life

“I started to write last December. The concept of my book came from the thought that if I was ever to write my third book, I’d be sharing with people how I am as a personality − I’m positive in every aspect of my life, I’m the go-to person for my friends and family for any issues they might be facing, I don’t waste time and try to find solutions in a very calm way in all aspects, so I decided to write this book. When the time came to name it, Penguin suggested Balance because it was so perfect for the book – the concept, chapters, etc. Even the cover features me on a circular swing symbolising the circle of life programme I’ve written about in the book, so it all worked out beautifully,” says Deanne. 

In fact, Deanne was supposed to go to the Maldives to shoot the book cover and three trips were cancelled because of the pandemic. “When I saw this photo in my old files it was so ironic – they wanted to name my book Balance, which is also the name of my company, and the circular swing I’m sitting on in the middle shows balance. What I’m trying to say is, when your life is in sync with the universe, everything works out beautifully,” says Deanne. 

“What opened my eyes during the course of writing was a Harvard course on climate change and its impact on health, which I added on to my book. I’m sustainable, I don’t shop too much, I’m all for Indian and organic products,” she shares. 

 

A plateful of wisdom

Rujuta Diwekar’s Eating in the Age of Dieting is essentially a collection of all her writings over the last 10 years

Rujuta Diwekar’s Eating in the Age of Dieting is essentially a collection of all her writings over the last 10 years

“Food plays different roles at different points in our lives”

–Rujuta Diwekar 

Celebrity nutritionist Rujuta Diwekar has recently published her book, Eating in the Age of Dieting, which is essentially a collection of all her writings over the last 10 years.  

“I wrote my first book, Don’t Lose Your Mind, Lose Your Weight in 2009 and since then I’ve been writing columns and been active on social media and so this book is pretty much a compilation of all my writings over the last decade,” says Rujuta. 

She stresses the importance of looking at food from the point of view of culture, climate, crop cycle and cuisine, as only then do diverse societies of people prosper.  

“That’s when we look after our own health, our own economy and we also keep global ecology in a good place because climate change is a real issue we are facing right now and individually what we eat is going to change that. For instance, if you are eating a homegrown banana, coconut or cashew, you’ll leave behind  a very different kind of a carbon footprint, being more aware how food plays a role in the health economy and ecological aspects of our life,” she elaborates. 

“The lockdown taught us to appreciate home-cooked food”—Rujuta Diwekar

The idea for this book germinated in Rujuta’s mind from the Facebook lives she did during the lockdown. “They were about what one could do while stuck at home with local, seasonal food and what one could do in terms of exercise. So, we did videos focused on PCOD, constipation, insomnia, etc.,” says Rujuta. The feedback she constantly got from viewers was that it would be nice if it was all in a book so they could have all information in one place. 

It took her about three to four months to compile this book about uncomplicating the act of eating and driving home the point that food comes from farms and is cooked in our kitchens devoid of hashtags, trends and influencers because that’s an ever-chaging thing.  

Rujuta Diwekar’s latest book is a collection of her writings over the last decade

Rujuta Diwekar’s latest book is a collection of her writings over the last decade

“Take haldi-doodh, for example. Right from the beginning, it helped people through coughs and flu and worked beautifully as night care. We shouldn’t wait for the West to send us approval or newer names for our own food like turmeric latte or golden milk to embrace it!” she asserts. 

Every book by Rujuta is focused on one topic but in this book, she’s touched upon food as a blessing and source of good health in one part; how food is local, seasonal and traditional in the second part; food as medicine in the third part and finally, in a fourth section, how food is for everyone. 

“Food is part of your daily life and enhances productivity. It plays different roles at different points in our lives like during pregnancy, menopause and old age,” she elaborates. 

The one thing the lockdown has helped everyone understand is that good health is more important than any other thing in our life, says Rujuta. “The lockdown has got people to appreciate home-cooked food and the time one invests in cooking!” she says.

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From HT Brunch, November 29, 2020

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