MOVERS & SHAPERS
Kareena Kapoor's Size Zero may have not helped her films but it's boosted her dietician Rujuta Diwekar's career like nothing before. With more clients than she can handle and a brimming inbox, Diwekar says, "I often tell Kareena that I am the one who's really reaping the benefits of her eating right since May 2007."
That's not to say there was no life, and fame, before Kareena. The 30-year-old nutrition expert already had an enviable clientele —Anil Ambani, whom she calls a "dream" client and whom she trained for the Mumbai Marathon, Samir Bhatia, who till a week ago headed Barclays Bank, the Kapoor sisters, Amrita Arora, Konkana Sen Sharma and Saif Ali Khan to name just a few.
The nutritionist is more a friend to her clients, going by the excerpts in her book Don't Lose Your Mind, Lose You Weight, which has already sold more than 10,000 copies since it was launched this February. She tells us how she weaned Karisma off baked low-fat chaklis by proving to the actress that they are laden with fat. "There is no room for any formality in my work. Food is the core of our existence and one has to be open about it. With Kareena and Karisma, I share a relationship of mutual love and respect," she says.
The newest names in her portfolio are Vidhu Vinod Chopra and wife Anupama. "Vinod told me that he found my book humorous and said that he read it on the pot. I thanked him but told him that the book says one shouldn't read it on the pot. Vinod replied that he wouldn't read that page now," she says with a laugh.
Diwekar says she gives her clients "eating plans", not "diet plans". "I encourage them to eat. I use food and the act of eating as a way of getting in touch with our digestive system and our real self," she says. Diwekar says she "eats all the time", mostly Maharashtrian fare— pohe, poli-bhaji, koshimbir, dahi, taak — and "all the boring stuff like protein shakes".
She says most people "lack common sense" when it comes to their bodies. "We fail to limit our late nights and binges even though our body gives us clear signals that it can't take this abuse by getting bloated, constipated and feeling lethargic. We drown these voices of revolt with some antacids to ease the bloating and coffee to give us a kick. Yet, we don't want to look like victims, but superstars," she says.
And do her superstar clients apply common sense to their bodies? "Bollywood has its fair share of people who abuse their bodies and a fair share of those who are disciplined with their lifestyles," says Diwekar, who started working 10 years ago.
Diet myth: "That eating makes us fat."
Her diet: "I eat all the time."
At 42, Nishi Grover has a piece of vital statistic that can make her fittest client envious: she weighs 42 kg. The celebrity dietician, who helps Delhi's Page 3 circuit snip at those crucial kilos in time for starry parties, says that in her case, the scales aren't this obliging for nothing: "I am very disciplined," she says. That's also a regimen she charts for each of her 700 clients, 200 of them Delhi's socialites—Timsy Anand, Sonal Mansingh, Kali Purie, Alpana Gujral and Manpreet Brar, among others.
"But I don't like being hyped up," she says. Her celebrity clients don't either; but for entirely different reasons. "When people ask a socialite at an event about the secret of her weight loss, she would say she's exercising or drinking lots of water but she'd never reveal that she consults me. It's all very competitive," she says. It's another thing that they sometimes bump into each other at her south Delhi clinic!
Grover's celebrity clients often set her impossible deadlines. 'No time' is their pet phrase. But she doesn't give in easily. "I am a pest. I get after them so much that they end up reassuring me that they are on track," she says. Are they? "Most of them are partying six out of seven days and, as a result, are bingeing," she says. Dancer Sonal Mansingh, who's been with her for 10 years, is her "most disciplined" client. Grover started as an aerobics trainer in 1988 and today charts out "personalised diet plans" (a combination of diet, exercise and weight-loss therapies) for her clients. She also has a low-cal café where her clients can gorge on goodies like apple tart, kulfi, shahi tukda, and chocolate cakes—made without oil or sugar.
The myth: "Diet food is boring, going on a diet is a punishment."
Her diet: "Breakfast is egg white, fruit, vegetables, sugarless tea with a drop of milk and lassi. Lunch is chapati, sabzi, dal (both oil-free). Dinner is vegetable soup, fruit and dahi. I walk 10 to 12 km every day."
Every afternoon, 30 lunch packs roll out of dietician Shonaalii Sabherwal's firm Enhance in Juhu, Mumbai. Their destination: offices and homes of bankers and executives, housewives and actresses. Dinners are picked up from her place by six 'special requirement' clients that includes actor Katrina Kaif. Sabherwal cooks the meals and also counsels over 200 clients.
Sabherwal worked as a market research professional for 14 years before she became a macrobiotic food consultant. Tabu was her first Bollywood client. Esha Deol signed up last year and Katrina Kaif this February. "Katrina was looking for healthy eating options. That's where I came in," she says. Tabu picks up Sabherwal's lunch dabbas while Esha goes for salad dressings and miso paste from the dietician's basket of ready-to-eat products. Before going abroad, both actresses get a list of dos and don'ts from her. Katrina gets her lunch and dinner picked up from Sabherwal, who has also recently trained the actress's cook. "I've also trained Tabu's spotboy so that she can have healthy food on the sets—that's brown rice porridge in the morning and a miso soup in the evening," she says.
Her Bollywood clients have very specific needs, says Sabherwal. They need to be in shape and also need a lot of energy. "Like most of all of us, they think that starving leads to weight loss. But many have realised that you don't have to do that," says Sabherwal, who went from a size 8 to a size 2 on a macrobiotic diet in a year. Macrobiotics, she says, goes beyond defining food as carbohydrate or protein and looks at the energy it gives. It is also a lot about the cooking style, which caters to individual needs. "Katrina, for instance, is in the prime of her career and is very busy shooting. Her diet is the one that gives her energy. Tabu needs one that keeps her calm, healthy and her stomach doing well," she says.
Katrina's lunch is miso, fermented and whole grain bread and mostly bean dishes, a different one every day of the week. "One day, it's Indian-style, then it's re-fried the Mexican way, then it's the Moroccan version followed by Greek etc," says Sabherwal, who does not repeat a meal in at least six months. The macrobiotic chef makes sweet brown rice syrup dessert with organic sweeteners for Katrina. "Everyone needs sweetness in their life and I advise desserts 2-3 times a week," she says.
The myth: "All carbs are bad."
Her diet: "Whole grain in any form: brown rice, millets or wheat chappatis once a day, a large portion of vegetables, and fish. I eat seaweed 3-4 times a week. I have seasonal fruits and a glass of wine occasionally."
DR VINOD DHURANDHAR
It's easy to be thrown off kilter by Dr Vinod Dhurandhar's clinic in Santacruz, Mumbai. The board is hardly visible; the reception area is tiny, the walls are bare and the floor doesn't squeak with glamour. It's a neighbourhood clinic, free of stardust. That hasn't mattered to celebrities who walk into his chambers—Aamir Khan, Rekha, Shabana Azmi and Kirron Kher are some of his clients.
It also doesn't matter to Dhurandhar that they are big stars. For he charges Rs700 as a first-time fee and Rs500 for each follow-up from everyone—even if the client is Aamir Khan. "I don't discriminate," says the 82-year-old, who was trained as a paediatrician and has been practising for 44 years. The good doctor has gone through his share of weight problems. At the age of 32, he found he was grossly overweight at 90 kg. In six months, he lost 27 kg and maintained his weight for the next four years. "There was no course, nor any clinic. So, I was on my own," he says. In 1964, he opened India's first obesity clinic and held camps to rid the "business of quacks".
Over the years, Dhurandhar has not given up his no-nonsense approach towards his clients. "I can make them lose a kilo a day but I don't want to fool them. Losing weight over an unreasonable short period of time burns protein, not fat. So, I tell them if they want to lose weight really quickly, they better go to a quack," he says. When Aamir lost 16 kg in a year for Ghajini, he had said in an interview that the doctor bullied him but got results. Dhurandhar, who has been advising Aamir since his Mangal Pandey days, is happy that his star client is obedient. "I expect him to eat every half an hour. He does that, even during shoots. I also tell him to take a lot of egg white, just as I tell most of my patients," he says. Aamir is not a regular visitor now but calls him to "get his diet adjusted over the phone".
The myth: "Most people think exercise burns fat. It doesn't. It acts only on muscles. Because it burns calories, it helps indirectly in weight loss."
His diet: "Nothing special, I don't go restrict myself when I eat."
When director Madhur Bhandarkar wanted Kangana Ranaut to look runway-fit in Fashion, he sent her to dietician Tripti Bhandari. Bhandari also has a big chunk of corporate clients like French drug company Sanofi-Aventis, Mahindra & Mahindra and Elcomm Marine.
A PG diploma in nutrition, she had practised for seven years in several hospitals when she had her first brush with celebrity. "I was working with an endocrinologist and met actress Meenakshi Seshadri and director David Dhawan," she says. Later, when she worked with Skyz gym, she came in contact with Shiney Ahuja. When she went solo in July 2007, she started building her network of corporate and celebrity clients—film directors came to her and started sending their cast too, says the 31-year-old whose clinic iPink-Colour of Health has some 350 clients today.
She tells us that Bhandarkar had sent Kangana not just for her weight, but also her skin. "She used to eat a lot of sweets, nuts and coffee. Her skin's oily and the nuts were causing breakouts and widening her waistline," she says. The actor was put on a six-meal, moderate-carb, high-fibre and protein-rich diet that included a lot of water, fruits and vegetables. Kangana got a clearer skin, lost three kilos and a few inches from her waistline.
It isn't easy to convince the stars to let go of their cravings. "They are fussy eaters. Some have seven cups of coffee a day and refuse to go off it. Some say, 'I am not putting down my chocolate but you've got to bring down my waistline to 22," she says. But the easy part is that they are already in shape. "It's a matter of losing only a few kilos or few inches. Most of them easily meet the deadline," she says.
The myth: "Having only fruits for dinner helps lose weight. Fruits contain sugar, take them earlier in the day."
Her diet: "A regular diet with proteins, egg white and vegetable juice. I take my normal roti, sabzi and dal and also, a portion of nuts and fruits daily."