So, you’re not on a diet.

May 17, 2013 § Leave a comment

Congratulations.

My refusal to eat dessert, ladoos, pedhas, bread etc. has met with disapproval from relatives hosting lavish functions. “Kithe gho? Diyaat karta?

I’ve been struggling with body weight issues for years, and I’ve tried dieting in the past. I would always give in at family functions, just to avoid these conversations. But not anymore.

Hayy. Diet Karta.”

About 6 months after I embraced my figure and accepted it for what it is (my tipping point was the time I was advised to go to an ayurvedic “fat camp” by someone who should have really kept their mouth shut at the time) I was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome, which is a lot more common than you think. It was, in my case, brought about by a nasty combination of stress and weight gain, and PCOS does this lovely thing about insulin resistance which makes it impossible to lose weight. Paradoxically, the way to control PCOS is to lose weight. And that’s the toughest thing I’ve had to do.

I was unaware of my having PCOS, however – in 2011, after two years of family ridicule and personal rejection was at a high point, I found myself gymming furiously just to be “attractive” again, and my expensive personal instructor was flabbergasted by my lack of weight loss.

Ghar jaake pizza wizza toh nahin khaati ho?”

Well, not always at least. I couldn’t understand what was going on, and I quit the gym – what was the point, anyway – and started yoga. I wasn’t expecting weight loss with Yoga, but it helped manage my severe depression.

In 2012 I went to Delhi, and stayed with my old friend and college mentor, @pelorat, who had just started on the “Keto” diet, the rage of redditors. I was no stranger to low carb dieting, and I played along for a while. It was not sustainable for me, however, because I wasn’t allowed to cook non vegetarian food in my house. It was only after my eventual diagnosis of PCOS in October, 2012, that I started thinking of lifestyle changes that would work. Going low carb was easy, but it somehow wasn’t enough to jumpstart losing the 16 kgs of weightloss I needed to possibly counter the PCOS. More importantly, I didn’t want to crash diet and then put it all on back again as soon as I hit my goal weight.

Keto has been fabulous – now that I have the freedom to cook all the bacon I want, my face has cleared up, my menstrual cycle is back to 28 days, I feel more energetic, I’ve lost only 6 kilos, but last night’s ultrasound has revealed a drastic change in my ovaries – while the left one is pretty much clear, the right one has improved remarkably too.

But I still have 8 kilos to go.

But this isn’t about me, or PCOS, or anything. This isn’t even for people who are dieting. This post is for people who *aren’t*. So you aren’t dieting, but chances are, someone in your immediate circle is. A parent, a sibling, a partner, someone in your office, your best friend, you best friend’s boyfriend.

Listen up:

1. Don’t ever say, “oh why diet, you should exercise!”, because that’s not true. I’m no nutrition expert but at least in my case, and countless people I know, especially women with PCOS, have benefitted more from dieting than from exercising. Even if they haven’t, shut the fuck up and mind your own business, unless you are a qualified nutritionist. Unless it’s something patently messed up, like starvation or something similar, or causing severe harm to their body systems, if its working, its working. You can’t imagine a life without biriyani, but I can, and it’s not torture worse than death, believe you me.

2. Be supportive: People might do extreme things to help their lifestyles, and you can help. My mother, like all GSB housewives, puts a healthy dose of sugar in every sabzi. To stop this when I’m around, she doesn’t keep the sugar bottle on the table. If you go visiting a friend who is on a diet, don’t carry cakes and sweets. Take some dried fruits instead. In fact, make that a default rule. If you need a sugar fix when you spend the weekend with your girlfriend, carry your own sugar and sweets and take it with you when you go. When you’re planning a night out with your low carbing fiance, check the menu beforehand or call ahead and ask. It’s not unheard of. And it’s really thoughtful. If you are visiting your folks for the weekend, call them and tell them that your partner isn’t going to eat rice and ask them to have an alternative, or in the worst case, declare it a pot luck and take your own low carb special. And if your wife needs to eat chicken, men, please talk to your parents and let her make it for herself in the kitchen. There’s nothing copious amounts of sanitizer and air freshener and a separate cutting board, knife and frying pan can’t do.

3. If you can’t be supportive, at least don’t be an asshole: Don’t schedule dates at dessert places, find someone else to go with you to that new ice cream parlour. I don’t want a chocolate cake but I don’t particularly enjoy sitting at, say, a Haagen Daaz where there is literally *nothing* I can eat, watching other people eat. When your wife, on the South Beach Diet, asks you to bring something to eat, don’t turn up with a white bread sandwich and say “oh, I forgot.”. If your daughter has to eat meat to bring up their protein levels, and if you have a vegetarian household, find a middle ground. Meal times are special and bring people together, so don’t make loved ones stand in a corner and eat, or be forced to buy food from outside. And refusing to make out with your husband who has been eating fish for omega 3s afterwards is equally bad form.

I’m bringing up PCOS one more time here because of the horror stories I’ve been hearing on DMs and reddit from women who want to go low carb but can’t because of the family – men, in laws, etc: if your wife/daughter in law needs to go low carb to help her PCOS, please help her. Besides the weight gain she is at risk of a whole host of other disorders including type Ii diabetes, Endometrial Cancer, Strokes etc. And if, like me, she’s also taking extreme steps so she can conceive, at least be the kind of person/family she would WANT to have a baby with, the one that makes the entire struggle worthwhile, not some inconsiderate douchebag who comes back from the US with skittles for her instead of pork rinds.

PS: to everyone who has been an asshole to me and my weight loss struggles: fuck you very much.

PPS: Yes, I know that low carb diets, including the Keto diet, can be done on vegetarian diets. However, it doesn’t work for everyone, and it didn’t work for me.

 

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