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‘I don’t believe in cheat days’

Apeejay Kharghar alumna, who specialises in food and nutrition, recommends eating everything but in limited quantity

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Ayushi Bhattacharjee, who studied Food Science and Nutrition, and is at present, working with a food startup, believes eating traditional foods helps us stay rooted while ensuring good health. In an interview, she shares her take on emerging fad diets, market-bought healthy alternatives, and more:

What memories do you have of school?

Apeejay School, Kharghar, played a pivotal role in shaping me into the person I am today. I was there in the school from class II-XII. Though not excellent in academics, I was an active student who was involved in various activities and competitions like news reading, science exhibitions, skits, poetry, and so on. The teachers supported and motivated me throughout — special mention to Sunita ma’am, Shalini ma’am, Prachi ma’am, Sapna ma’am, and Ira ma’am, among many others. They pushed me to become a better version of myself. The activities I took part in, boosted my confidence, and helped me overcome my stage fear. I also wrote the script for one of the annual day events.

Which course did you plan to take up after school and why?

In school, I fell in love with Science. But I did not want to opt for medical and engineering but something related to research. I went on to pursue BSc in Biochemistry from Mithibhai College, Mumbai. For my master’s degree, I took up Food Science and Nutrition at Shreemati Nathibai Damodar Thackersey Women’s University, Mumbai.

Also Read: Eat Right: 13.5 crore people in India have obesity-related diseases, healthy eating habits are a must

Where are you working now?

I am part of the core team of a food startup that specialises in healthy snacks, and energy bars. I look after technical marketing, which involves a fair bit of research as well on market trends, gaps, and more. This job has helped me achieve a confluence of my love for science and my interest in human interaction. I am still in the transition phase after my stint at Marcus Evans Group. Prior to that, I worked as a marketing intern with Connell.

Market-bought healthy alternatives or ‘desi’ foods— according to you, which is better?

Food habits are a personal choice. However, I do believe in sticking to our desi foods, which we have been eating for generations — we have to be mindful of our roots. They are the healthiest foods you can have. We should ideally eat our traditional seasonal fruits instead of opting for expensive, exotic ones. Only if a dietician or doctor prescribes a certain diet plan do you have to follow it.

That said, the market is indeed pushing for healthy bites like granola or protein energy bars, which are now popular alternatives for the younger generation who may not have the time to cook a proper meal amidst their busy schedules. You have to remember that the market-produced bites are also made from our traditional ingredients.

Fad diets have become very popular. Do you think they are sustainable?

Nutrition and food have an important relation with genetics. You cannot have a one-size-fits-all approach. Therefore, a particular kind of diet may or may not suit an individual. People pick up fad diet tips on YouTube or Instagram and start following them. That should be a complete no-no. Before following a certain diet, you should definitely consult a nutritionist/dietician who will advise you as per your genetic makeup and comorbidities, if any.

If you just want to lead a healthy life, the best way to do it is by eating everything but within a limit. Have a good and balanced diet and cut down your consumption of junk foods. I also do not believe in cheat days — eating something that you like cannot be equated with cheating. You should love your body and eat what gives you happiness while making sure it does not harm your body. What you eat affects your mental health. There is no need to force yourself to follow a stringent diet unless it has been prescribed by an expert.

Disha Roy Choudhury is a Principal Correspondent at Apeejay Newsroom. She has worked as a journalist at different media organisations. She is also passionate about music and has participated in reality shows.

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