Dr Jewel Gamadia told me to give up salads if I wanted to lose weight faster. He was right
Be honest, you hate them anyway
In most Indian households, achieving a perfect score in your grade 10 boards is considered a rite of passage into adult life and freedom. To make up for the gruelling school days and multiple tuitions after, this is also the time you get pampered the most. And my pampering came in the form of food. Mondays were spent gorging on greasy Chinese, Tuesdays on cheesy nachos and Fridays at the fast-food haunt outside my school. Almost like a ritual.
Gaining weight was just a natural side effect of my weekly food crawl. And it only hit me when I scoured through four shopping malls, but never found a perfect dress for my farewell. Everyone around me labeled it ‘puppy fat’, and assured me it would go away with an active routine. But after months of daily walks and healthy eating, I still remained overweight. That’s when I knew it was time to befriend the enemy: my local gym.
The gym and I shared a toxic relationship: it tested me every day, but the results were showing and I did manage to feel good about myself. I lost 5 kilos, but within a few months, it gave up on me. Shutters down, membership gone. I won’t lie; it tasted like freedom.
The author in 2012
In the 3 years to come, my lifestyle was fuelled by one too many Happy Meals, regular late nights and excessive hours warming the couch. Advice from my family went unheard. I never signed up with a nutritionist because I couldn’t stand the thought of being told what to eat. I wanted to make a change, but didn’t have the courage to accept that I had a problem. In 2016, it was a photo from a vacation that was my wakeup call. This one in particular. My cheeks were looking unusually rounder, and so was my body.
I signed up with a nutritionist. In addition to being told how to live my life and being forced to step on a weighing scale, I also had to do a blood test. Another thing I was squeamish about. The results showed I had Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome that was slowing down my metabolism, causing the kilos to pile up faster than usual. My carb-heavy diet made way for high-fibre foods, healthy smoothies and a daily dose of PCOS-correcting pills. I made it a point to plug in a daily walk, swim or weight training session, even if this meant exercising at midnight. I was finally down 10kgs in 7 months and was at my lightest ever at 64kgs.
When I joined ELLE back in 2017, the perils of a desk job caught up to me, and inspite of eating healthy and following an active lifestyle, the scale tipped to the higher side and refused to budge. Blame it on stress, I guess. I threw out the weighing scale this March; this yo-yo weight game my body was playing was really starting to get the best of me.
While I half-heartedly continued my diet and fitness routine, my research-heavy job helped me understand my body better. I learned that my early morning bloat was thanks to sourdough bread that I was blindly eating to keep up with the fermented food fad. I gave it up and my stomach started feeling flatter. In a chance encounter with Bollywood’s famous wellness expert Dr Jewel Gamadia, I was advised to avoid raw foods as they were hard on my digestive system and slowing down weight loss. This seemed counterintuitive to my goals, but out went the salads and superfood bowls. And I started feeling lighter in just two weeks. I switched from jowar and bajra rotis to traditional wheat, and all my lethargy was gone. I didn’t check my weight for a while again (ghosts from the past, you see). But when I noticed my clothes get looser, I stepped on and found I had lost 5kgs in five months. And this was despite binging on desserts during a month-long vacation.
While I still have a long way to go to reach my ideal body weight, I’ve learned to listen to the small signs.
I feel active, my body feels toned and people around me are commenting on the significant changes. The numbers on the scale are tipping by the week, the inches are dropping and I’m naturally more motivated. It feels like I’ve finally cracked the formula.
How to banish the bloat
1. “Avoid raw vegetables as the body takes time to break them down effectively. This can lead to bloating and even weight gain through slow digestion,” says acupuncturist Dr Jewel Gamadia.
2. “Bad gut and hormonal health, weight or sleep issues all have two indicators: bloating and fatigue. A few minutes of meditation will relax your muscles, improve digestion and help your body repair itself. You can also try intermittent fasting about twice a week to give your cells a break,” says immunologist Dr Amy Shah.
3.“Boil a tablespoon of fennel seeds in four cups of water, reduce it to half, strain and sip to banish that morning bloat,” says holistic nutritionist Luke Coutinho.