Eating veggies can be child’s play!

Bharat Savur | Updated on: Jan 31, 2013

Let them plan the menu.

I can’t get my son (12) and daughter (10) to eat fresh, raw vegetables and salads. What can I do; I’m at my wit’s end. Please help.

Shantha R.

Years ago, I read an article written by a nutritionist — she was where you are! She stopped chastising her kids and appointed them ‘Fruit Salad Chef’ and ‘Vegetable Salad Chef’. They were given aprons, and put in charge of making decisions. Apparently, they got so interested, they even convinced their dad, a steak-and-potatoes man, to eat his salad. Perhaps, you could try this technique with your kids too.

I’ve been trying all kinds of diets over the years, but nothing works. Could you please suggest a diet plan?

Rimi C .

There’s no such thing as a perfect diet, there’s only a perfect you. So, you need to get a plan that works for you, long term. Don’t get into an information overload. Just be disciplined and steadfast. Stick to one sensible diet plan and one moderate exercise regime for a year and experience the wonder of being leaner, fitter, and more peaceful.

Diet: Cut out all fries, fat and sweets. Make all your favourite dishes — be it sambhar , aloo mutter , or chicken curry — without ghee, butter, or oil. Include high-fibre food in all meals to feel full. Breakfast on dalia (broken wheat), egg whites, whole-grain bread, with tea/ coffee sweetened with stevia. For lunch and dinner, have roti , steamed vegetables/ oil-free sabzi , curd/ buttermilk/ low-fat milk, oil-less pulse curry. At teatime, have low-fat bhel ( kurmura (puffed rice), onions, boiled potato, tomato, roasted channa , green onion chutney.) Snack on papaya, apple, cucumber, and steamed sweet potatoes. Drink 1.5 litres of water.

Don’t get carried away by the hype all around you. If you’re feeling comfortable, light and active with your diet plan, don’t change it because some dietician casually mentions, “Replace all carbs with a teaspoon of coconut oil”. Remember, discontentment with your plan creates dissatisfaction, which then fuels false hunger pangs.

Exercise: Do three exercises thrice a week: Cycle briskly for 35 minutes to burn fat. Do 50–100 abdominal crunches to tighten and tone your stomach muscles. Do 50–150 side-leg-raises to 90 degrees on each side.

Don’t change this plan come what may. You can do other exercises on other days, but stick like epoxy adhesive to this primary plan through rain, shine, or vacation. In sum, don’t make ‘change’ your credo, make ‘consistency’ your friend.

I’ve been trying out a weight-training programme at the gym for a year. I use 5-pound dumbbells. However, after a session, my entire body aches, and at night the pain keeps me awake. I’m supposed to do it thrice a week, but managed only once a month. I’m 30. Please advise.

Rupali B.

Unconditioned muscles protest when subjected to weight-training without preparation. I suggest the following body-conditioning steps:

For one month, do the same exercises three times a week without weights.

Then, use 2.5-pound dumbbells for three to six months until you are really comfortable with them.

Next, do the easy exercises with 5-pounders, and the tougher ones with 2.5-pounders, for another three months.

Finally, do all exercises with 5-pounders.

Simultaneously, drink 1.5-2 litres of water daily to keep your muscles hydrated; warm up with spot jogging for 5–10 minutes before picking up your weights; immediately after the session, drink a glass of low-fat milk to replenish protein, calcium and Vitamin D in your muscles and bones.

The writer is co-author of the book Fitness for Life. Queries may be sent to

Published on January 31, 2013
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