Following the Plan

Shrishti’s diet had started that morning and she was determined to eat healthy, lose weight and buy a cupboard full of new clothes! The 1200 calorie chart said to eat a bowl of papaya in the morning, but there was no papaya at home, so she had a mango instead – everyone knows that fruits with similar colours have similar nutritional properties. She’d read this on WhatsApp.

Bhuaji had called the moment she heard about Shrishti’s new diet and advised her to have a tablespoon of Patanjali’s desi cow ghee before every meal. “It is swadesi, so it is healthier than other ghee, plus it is cow ghee and it is written in our holy books that cow ghee doesn’t have any harmful effects”, she told Shrishti, who needed to lose just about 5 kilos from around her hips where all her weight automatically accumulated. So, not wanting to offend her darling Bhuaji, Shrishti bought a pack as instructed and consumed a heaped tablespoon before every meal. “And our elders have always told us about eating nuts and dried fruits during the day. It gives strength and immunity”, said Bhuaji offering Shrishti a small katori of shelled walnuts. “This is for the whole day?”, asked Shrishti. “My God, no! That isn’t enough for the whole day!”, said Bhuaji, her triceps jiggling as she laboured to hold the little katori up, “you’re a young girl and need your strength. Have this much before every meal”.

So, for breakfast that morning, Shrishti was to have a bowl of papaya (400 gms, 200 calories) which she substituted with mango (240 calories), a heaped tablespoon of ghee (40gm, 360 calories) and a small katori of nuts (50gm, 325 calories), totalling 925 calories.

Around mid morning, the neighbour aunty came over with a big bowl of Gajar ka Halwa. “This is home made and everyone knows we can’t get fat from eating home made food. It is all this outside food that makes us fat. Home made food only gives us strength. I saw this on the Astha channel yesterday. Plus, I have used cow ghee.”, she said sagely, while serving Shrishti a bowl full of the rich halwa, gleaming with ghee and dotted with white chunks of khoya and kishmish and peeled almonds. Since one bowl is hardly anything and aunty was looking at her so expectantly, Shrishti ate it while making all the required sounds of appreciation, adding another 300 calories to her day, bringing the total to 1225.

At lunch, the chart said to have two small rotis, dal and palak ki sabzi (~400 calories) but mamaji had come over from Pinjore and obviously he couldn’t be fed such a simple meal on his arrival. Plus he had brought boxes of Pinjore’s famous pinni. For lunch, Shrishti chatted with her mamaji over a sumptuous meal of parathas (desi cow ghee), paneer makhani (cow milk paneer) and dal makhani followed by bowls of hot moong dal halwa (organic dal, desi cow ghee, brown sugar). Mamaji had quite an appetite, so Shrishti also ended up eating a bit more than she would otherwise have eaten. All his fault, coming in unannounced like that. 800 calories later + a tablespoon of desi ghee as instructed by her aunt, which equalled 1,160 calories, Shrishti went to her room to rest for a bit as she was feeling heavy. This was puzzling, since she was following the plan. Strange. (Current total: 2,385 calories)

Around tea time, her chart said have a cup or two of tea if she wished, with apple (~70 calories). Who eats fruit with tea, thought Shrishti, choosing instead to have 4 – 5 pieces of rusk (240 calories), which were almost completely free of oil, which as per WhatsApp, was the reason we gained weight.

Bhuaji came over at dinner time with a casserole of her famous Shahi Paneer. Though the rich colour wasn’t usually visible through the inch thick layer of ghee on top, once the ghee was gone, it was easy to see the brilliant saffron-yellow colour and smooth texture of the gravy below, which was always delicious. Now, this didn’t happen every day and poor bhuaji would be so offended if she didn’t eat some. So Shrishti ate 3 rotis, a big portion of Shahi Paneer and some of the afternoon’s dal makhani for dinner (~800 calories), instead of rajma, mushrooms, salad and curd (~400 calories) as suggested by the plan. Rajma would have given her gas any way and her brother would mimic the sounds from his room next door. She also dutifully ate the tablespoon of ghee bringing her meal total to 1,160 and the day’s total to 3,785 calories, and slept a sound sleep, smiling happily.

One month later, Shrishti fired her nutritionist, having gained an extra 10 kilos during the month. She did though fulfill her dream of buying new clothes since none fit her any longer.

Sid Khullar

Sid Khullar is the founder of Chef at Large, a blog that began in 2007. He enjoys cooking, writing, travelling and technology in addition to being a practising Freemason. Health and wellness is a particularly passionate focus. Sid prefers the company of food and animals to most humans, and can be reached at sid.khullar@chefatlarge.in.