Diet Plans and Tips- An Interview with Dietitian Nirja Parekh

Remember the time when the fruits and vegetables were available depending upon the month of the year? Well, not any more. The world has changed when it comes to agriculture and food preservation and so have our food habits with time. With the ever increasing health issues across the world, we need to be all the more cautious about our diet choices. Though the requirements of individuals remain different depending upon the variety of factors, the basics of choice remain the same. We interviewed well know dietitian, Nirja Parekh, from India for some diet plans and tips for a healthy body.

Diet Plans and Diet Tips- by Nirja Parekh

1- Considering the changing climate conditions around, should there be changes in our diet?

Nirja– Well, we should give our body what our body needs and demands for. Our ancestors have nicely designed the dietary pattern according to the weather by correlating it with the mythology and festivals. Infact, they had designed it by even considering the harvesting schedules and the physical work they used to do in those days. It is not just the climate which has changed now, even our lifestyles have gone under a transformation; we have become more click dependent rather than doing manual work. So, the dietary pattern should certainly be changed accordingly. The reason behind all the fatal diseases prevalent nowadays is believed to be unchanged dietary pattern. Changes should be done as per the nutritional requirements of each individual.


2- How should we plan a daily diet to stay healthy? Any particular foods to be avoided?

Nirja– Following are some general tips that can help in maintaining good health.

  1. Consume small frequent meals at the interval of 2 hours.
  2. Consume salad/soup/fruits before consuming big meals.
  3. Drink half glass of water every half an hour. Do not drink more than 1 glass at a time.
  4. Start and end your day with a glass of warm water.
  5. Consume a fist full of dry fruits (nuts) before workout.
  6. Consume atleast 2 fruits daily
  7. Consume green leafy vegetable atleast once a day in any form.
  8. Avoid fried foods especially the ones prepared with purpose flour (maida)
  9. If you are a non-vegetarian, avoid gravy prepared with overflowing oil usage. Preferably, consume roasted or barbecued options.
  10. Do not forget the physical work out. A healthy body in these times demands 45 minutes of workout everyday.
  11. Your body cycle works in a particular scientific way. You should consume your dinner within 12 hours from the time you wake up.


3- With plethora of oil options available, which one truly suits us?

Nirja– Almost all oils give you 9 kcal per gram of oil consumed. According to me, oil extracted out from the oilseeds which are grown locally is the best option for your body. For example, in Gujarat (a state in India), we grow groundnuts and cottonseeds; hence groundnut oil and cottonseed oil are considered the best for our digestion. Same way, in Punjab (another Indian state) they saw mustard and South India boasts of coconut crops and the people around can easily digest these oils. One prime issue of Globalisation now is regular migration of population. When they move from one place to another with a different climate condition, their genes are programmed to digest the food locally available in their native region. They have to select oils accordingly and wait for their body to get used to local conditions before switching.


4- What do you think about vegan, keto and paleo diets?

Nirja – I strongly believe that one must select diet regimen as per their physical, medical, social, and environmental conditions. In a country like India, we have a very hot temperate climate where our kidneys work hard for elimination of by products. Our bodies are genetically pre-designed to digest the foods we are eating since years. We can surely curtail the foods that we have adopted from the western influence and emphasise more on our traditional food pattern if we really want to keep healthy as genetically modified foods and imported foods are not easily accepted by our bodies. As a dietitian, I never recommend such experimentation, rather I would suggest searching for the reasons of ailments and working over them with lifestyle modification.


5- Which is your favorite food in terms of nutrition?

Nirja– I am a die hard fruit lover. Fruits are fiber rich eatables, loaded with vitamins, easily utilizable sugars, and acid stabilizers.


6-Any word of advice for mothers to take care of children’s diet and nutrition?

Nirja– I always advise mothers for not being so fussy and diet cautious for children.

  • I rather suggest to emphasis more on hygiene part of it. I advise that there should be DEMAND FEEDING.  Forceful feeding always reduces the interest from food.
  • Food should be given when they need food, but yes, good dietary habits are to be maintained as well.
  • Food service plays an important role as well. Even traditional Indian food should be served in an attractive and a presentable manner which allows more senses involved in the eating process.
  • I strongly recommend to not follow blindly everything which comes on media and diet blogs as each child is different and their needs are different. As a mother, one should keep a track of the junk food consumption of the children and if necessary, they can make children eat good amount of fruits before the consumption of junk food.

Any parting words?

Above all, as a dietitian, I feel that being happy is more important than looking slim or as they call it ‘sexy’ these days. Whatever food that makes you happy, if eaten in a controlled amount, will not harm as the body knows what it wants. Being over health cautious will bring stress instead.






Well, in short, we can conclude from her suggestions that one should eat locally grown food and with some changes in quantity and timing of the consumption, we can keep ourselves happy, stress-free, healthy, and fulfilled. For any guidance, you can get in touch with them at nirjaparekh15@gmail.com


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For me, health is about sustainable living and consuming environmentally conscious food; I am a vegan.

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