"If Parents Practice Healthy Food Habits, Children Will Follow"

One of India’s leading celebrity nutritionists, Pooja Makhija has a simple mantra when it comes to food. She advises everyone to eat the right kind of food at the right time to stay healthy and fit.

By Monali Bordoloi

"If Parents Practice Healthy Food Habits, Children Will Follow"

Author of the book eat. delete. and eat. delete. junior, Pooja Makhija, gives utmost importance to the nutritional needs of a child. In a chat with ParentCircle, Pooja gets talking about fad diets, protein powders and her nourishgenie portal.

Q: What is your view on child nutrition?

A: Child nutrition is the most crucial ingredient in raising healthy, happy and successful future adults. Children are like clay, if you can teach them good food habits when they are young, they are not going to need doctors and nutritionists when they grow up.

Q: Three big meals or several small meals a day?

A: Definitely, I would say go for small meals throughout the day. Moderation is the key here. Your body knows only one form of storage, i.e. fats. Even if you are eating healthy food in large amounts, your body is going to store it as fats.

Q: Will absolutely avoiding carbs help one’s cause?

A: All foods are healthy in moderation. Carbs are one of the most important sources of fuel for your body and in moderate amount are not bad for you. Portion control is the key to successful relationship with carbohydrates.

Q: Nowadays, the market is flooded with many so-called detoxifying juices, protein powders and health drinks. Your views?

A: If you follow a proper balanced diet, I don’t consider these to be a ‘needed’ quotient for your day. Protein powders, or so-called health drinks or energy drinks are all artificial products. I don’t support taking anything artificial for our natural self. Muscles are built by working out in the gym, not by just drinking protein shakes. Beware of those gym instructors and dietitians who ask you to take extra supplements.

Q: What is your views on Fad diets? What according to you is the best diet to follow?

A: Fad diets are just fads, they are not meant to last long. They will come and go trying to attract attention. If you follow it, you may get some temporary results, but it will not last long. Once, you stop following it, results will be gone too.

Balanced diet is the best diet to follow. You must learn to eat according to your body weight and metabolic rate. No food is bad for you. Learn to control your portion sizes.

Q: Nutrition tips for beginners?

A: Learn to love food. Food is fuel, we must eat right to live right. Follow a diet which is sustainable so that you can maintain a healthy body weight for the rest of your life.

Q: Is it possible to remain fit and healthy without compromising on one’s food?

A: If you want to remain fit and healthy, never compromise on food. Shunning food in fear of gaining weight will have adverse effect. Going without food is like driving a car without fuel.

If you are not eating properly, it will lead to many health complications. We must build a healthy relationship with food to remain fit and disease-free forever.

Q: For someone working out, should the diet and amount of food be altered?

A: Yes, diet and amount of food must be altered according to the exercise regime you are following. If you are doing cardio to lose fats, food you are having will be different. Again, if you are weight training to build muscles, your diet and food portions should support it.

Q: What are the healthiest foods one can have daily?

A: Simple home-cooked food like daal-sabji, roti, rice are some of the healthiest foods you can have daily. All foods can be made healthy, just keep your antennas up for sugar and fat!

Q: Does one need to invest in expensive, branded food to become healthy?

A: There is absolutely no need to invest in expensive, branded food products to be healthy. Following few basic rules in choosing the right food will help. Buy local fresh food instead of expensive and imported ones.

Q: What role does diet play for healthy hair, glowing skin and strong nails?

A: Diet plays a vital role in keeping your skin and hair glowing. If you deprive yourself good nutrition, your skin, hair, nails will bear the brunt. Never starve! 

Q: How do we keep our children away from junk food?

A: If you plan it well, it is not that difficult to keep your child away from junk food. Teach them about right and wrong food choices. Introduce fruits and vegetables from a young age. Refrain from stocking up junk food. However, you must give in to their demands for comfort food once in a while. Or else, the moment you turn your back, they will only eat junk food. There should be a healthy balance between healthy food and occasional treats.

Q: What role does mind play in losing weight?

A: Your mind plays a big role. Nutrition is not only about what you eat but how you treat food as well. What’s in your mind is more important than what’s on your plate for a successful weight-loss programme.

Q: Any message for the readers of ParentCircle?

A: Parents, specially mothers, play a huge role in their child’s nutrition needs. If parents practice healthy food habits, children will follow. It’s important to practice what you preach and be their role model. Please go through my book eat. delete. junior for rich insights into nutritional needs of your child from 0 to 15 years of age.

Q: How do people living in different parts of India and abroad contact you for their weight loss and other queries on health and nutrition?

A: For those people, we have developed an online portal recently, nourishgenie.com, so that they can contact me from the comfort of their home. Nourishgenie is virtual Pooja Makhija. Through the portal, I guide them to achieve their weight loss targets or any other health issues like diabetes, heart disease, thyroid, hypertension, PCOD, etc.

"If Parents Practice Healthy Food Habits, Children Will Follow"

Q: What prompted you to write your book series – eat. delete. and eat. delete. junior?

A: I noticed that there are too many complex and contradicting views on diet and weight loss, which confuse people and they start developing a fear of food. Hence, I decided to put my views in eat.delete so that I could reach out to more people than I can through my one-on-one consultations. I also write to encourage people to eat the right kind of food so that their bodies can delete the extra kilos.

In eat.delete. junior, I discuss important topics on child nutrition age wise, and how parents can first educate themselves on food and then teach their children. It has a chapter on how to avoid junk food for the child too.

Q: You are an accomplished nutritionist, author, you have done TV shows, wrote columns for papers. What is next in the pipeline?

A: Coming up next is a food products line named Nourishables, which is all about healthy low-calorie snacks like chivda, chaklis, chips and crackers. Those who are watching their weights can have these on the go without worrying about putting on weight.

Clinical dietitian and consulting nutritionist, Pooja Makhija is a well-known name in the celebrity circles. Based out of Mumbai, she is a nutrition expert to stars like Deepika Padukone, Shahid Kapoor, Sonam Kapoor and Ranbir Kapoor.

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