Lose weight the Freedom Diet way!

crop6_240x240_14aug14Amid the plethora of generic information available on the various weight loss diets and fads, one must realize that there is very little guidance on how to modify the diet to suit an individual’s requirements and lifestyle. Needless to say following fad and crash diets lead to various lifestyle disorders. So the question then arises. What can I do to lose weight without harming my health or body? In this context, Dr. Shekhawat’s concept of ‘Freedom Diet’ seems intriguing.

Freedom diet is the brainchild of Dr. Kalpana Gupta Shekhawat, who holds a MBBS, DNB, DFM Diploma in Fitness and Nutrition from Stratford USA currently pursuing her Post Graduation in Clinical Nutrition from Clinical Nutrition Certification Board (CNCB) Texas USA. Her vision behind this concept is to prevent and manage lifestyle disorders which arise due to poor lifestyle and nutrition choices.

In an exclusive interview with sify.com, Dr. Shekahawat tells us all about the Freedom Diet and why she does not believe in the concept of crash dieting. Read the transcript in its entirety below:

What according to you are some of the food habits that an individual should follow?
Every individual must eat good healthy breakfast. Breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day which is had after fasting of 10-12 hours. The body needs glucose or else catabolic process sets in.

  • Eat 3-4 servings of vegetables and 2-3 servings of fruits daily.
  • Carry a protein rich snack with you
  • Have green tea after meals.
  • Always carry a water bottle
  • Choose low Glycemic Index foods

What is your opinion on crash diets?
Crash diets are an absolute no; not eating can never be healthy for our system.

Tell us a little about The Freedom diet.
Freedom diet functions by integrating your current lifestyle and current measurement into a plan which is prepared by putting together diet correction plus nutritional supplement prescription. Idea is to provide a plan which is very doable and ensures healthy lifestyle to make you reach your ideal weight and BMI without crash diet. It is a balance mix of healthy diet plans, along with supplement prescription.

Diet plans are based on the measurements taken and further processed into detailed calculations of your daily requirements of macro and micro nutrients. Calculations are based on your body profile such as BMI, Ideal weight, waist hip ratio etc. Plan is customized to your lifestyle to lose weight and also maintain it further. The various diseases that can be managed under Freedom Diet are Obesity, Coronary Artery disease, Hypertension, Hormonal Imbalances , Hypothyroidism, PCOD, PMS, , Rheumatoid arthritis, Gout, Hyperuricemia, Childhood Obesity, Parkinson, Epilepsy and Autism Spectrum Disorders .

Does it involve a balance between dieting and exercising?
Freedom diet does not involve any dieting; it is only about eating right food in right quantities for healthy weight and prevention of diseases. Moderate exercising is encouraged to keep the metabolism active and for toning of muscles.

Is there a freedom of choice and flexibility with respect to the foods that can be chosen as part of the diet? What would be the basic do’s and dont’s?
Diet plans given by us are highly customized to the lifestyle of each individual. Multiple food choices are given, the  diet is changed every week to ensure the right quantity is prescribed  each time with the individual’s new weight and variety of food to keep the system nutritionally fit is ensured.

Basically one must stick to fresh food with no artificial colors or preservatives and stay away from Transfats,  excessive omega 6 Fatty acids & saturated fats. Eating high quality fats and other nutrients prevent cellular damage and in turns prevent many chronic lifestyle diseases.

Does this diet also extend to those with medical issues?
Freedom diet has a multifaceted approach to chronic diseases. It involves an integrative assessment of obesity and current ailments, which includes thorough medical history, anthropometric measurements, weight history, nutritional and dietary history, assessment of current and past physical activity, diagnostic laboratory evaluation and screening for current level of motivation, emotional status, availability of support system, potential barriers to treatment and so on. Meal plan prescription with advice on lifestyle changes and supplements are based on the profile and current ailments which aid internal healing and correction of damaged cellular system without any side effects.

Could you tell us how this diet could be tweaked for someone with cholesterol or diabetes?
Dislipedemia (High Cholesterol) and Diabetes are both lifestyle related disorders and are preventable and manageable with appropriate food choices in right quantities and right time. Nutritional supplements are needed to ensure correction of the underlying cause for the same. An integrative approach with diet supplements and some physical activity has proven beneficial and great results in reversing these diseases have been achieved.

Are there any specific foods that should be taken when one follows the Freedom Diet?
Freedom diet only stresses upon freshly cooked food with good quality raw material. We stress upon avoiding fast foods or pre-cooked food which is stored for a long time with preservatives and various harmful chemicals (to ensure long shelf life). These types of foods are low in nutrition and high in toxic chemicals and should be avoided.

Unhealthy eating as well as starvation leads to adverse effects on skin and hair. Does the Freedom diet take into consideration healthy skin and hair? If so, how?
Skin and hair are mirror images of our internal health. A balanced diet consisting of fresh foods which include plenty of greens, fruits, food without preservatives and chemicals, good dietary fats (Omega 3) is essential. Avoiding bad fats (Trans fats, saturated fats, excessive Omega 6 fats), taking right supplements such as Minerals (Zn, Cu, Mg, Fe, Se etc) and Vitamins are also beneficial.

Freedom Diet Pic 2

Supplements are needed since one tends to develop deficiencies due to poor dietary habits. Apart from that multiple  factors such as non availability of nutritionally rich food products, environmental stress, lifestyle disorders, consumption of various medications,  can be detrimental to the body and in turn shows up on skin and hair.

What is the ideal kilograms of weight a person should lose, say every week or month? For example is losing 5 kgs a month with regular exercise and food be considered healthy?
Losing 500 Gms per week is considered standard,  healthy and sustainable, Freedom diet plans are targeted to make you lose at this pace. However a lot depends on the individual metabolism, current weight & metabolic response to the change in  eating habits. Therefore it could be a loss of up to 3 Kgs per month maximum which is healthy.

How do you create personalized diet plans? What are the criterions on which these diet plans are based?
Diet plans are based on multiple significant factors such as current eating habits, nature of job and ability to follow the diet. All the plans are based on calculations made from the body measurements and are highly individualized. We also take into consideration their current medicl situation or if there is a family history of any chronic lifestyle diseases and based on these a diet and supplement plan is prescribed.

Once a person has reached his/her desired weight, is it okay to go back to the usual lifestyle routine? Does a person regain his/her weight once he goes back to his usual lifestyle?
It is not advisable to go back to the poor lifestyle once again. Usually once you follow a structured diet , the body is tuned to healthy eating habits and one usually feels the need to eat at the times when one should.  Choosing the right food is the only important consideration to maintain good health and weight.

What lifestyle changes would you recommend to maintain an ideal weight in the long run?
A healthy lifestyle should include multiple small divided meals to maintain blood sugar levels as well as choosing the right food. To avoid binge eating after long gaps in-between meals, eating smaller portions at frequent intervals is strongly recommended.

What according to you is the best of exercise a person can follow to lose weight?
30-40 minutes of daily walking along with 20 minutes of any good stretching exercises work best to keep body healthy.

How stable is this weight loss? Does it help people keep their weight off in the long run?
Yes. The  diet plans given are very easy to follow and adapt. If one is a little careful and watches what he/she eats it’s easy to maintain the weight once lost.

What is your take on eating fruits versus drinking fruit juices? Are drinking fruit juices harmful?
Fruit juices have concentrated fruit sugar and therefore should be avoided because it leads to sudden spurt of blood glucose levels. They lack the fiber content of natural fruits.

What are macro and micro nutrients? Why and how are they are essential for the body?
Carbohydrates, proteins and fats are macro nutrients. Vitamins and minerals are micro nutrients. All are absolute essentials for the body as the complete metabolism is dependent on these micro and macro nutrients. In fact most of the chronic lifestyle diseases are manifested due to many deficiencies which are not overlooked and these lead to series of metabolic disturbances.

What would be your advice to people who want to lose weight?
Losing weight is not difficult. Positive thinking and consistent effort to quit bad eating habits, switching to healthier options and lifestyle and ensuring to rectify existing nutritional deficiencies is the key!

Image: Getty Images

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