My Week On a Plate
According to pros around the world, maintaining a Flash Food Diary can help you eat healthier. We asked writer and business executive Himani Dalmia to put it to the test.
Apart from nutritionists, I doubt anyone spends as much time examining the content of foods as I do, not because I have an eating disorder, but because I am in the business of health foods. So when Cosmo asked me to maintain a Flash Food Diary for a week, I had to say yes. The concept is based on recent study findings that claim taking photographic evidence of all your meals makes you more conscious about the quality and quantity of what you’re eating. So, with my camera in hand, I set about
my task of taking a week’s worth of food photos—and putting to test whether doing so would help me eat healthier or not. I stumble to the table, bleary-eyed, and poke at my papaya, almonds, and fried eggs, while my husband Akash wolfs down his food and rushes out the door. I sip on coffee as I get ready for work. Reaching the office means another cup of joe. Coffee is a weakness, and I try to limit myself to three cups a day, often with an Italian biscotti.
I start lunch with a bowl of fruit, eaten before the main meal so the nutrients are absorbed better. Then, salad and roti with palak paneer and dal. Only one roti— got to watch those carbs! Around 4pm, a client sends over home-made brownies. I eat one, then another (they were delicious!) There is a long gap till dinner, but the camera staring at me from my bag discourages any (more) mid-day snacking. Dinner is simple—chickpeas, ladyfinger, more paneer and, regrettably, two rotis! I look forward to my daily post-dinner indulgence, chocolate,
but because I’m keeping The Flash Food Diary, I opt for dark chocolate with 70% cocoa, and feel pleased that I’ll be reaping all its antioxidant benefits.
Breakfast is fruit, orange juice, eggs, toast and coffee. Orange juice is, admittedly, a sugar extravaganza, but it gives me the kick I need in the mornings. Eggs are a must, not only because I enjoy them, but also because I’m vegetarian and they’re a great source of protein.
Lunch is rajma and nutritious red rice, and paneer in tomato gravy. At 7pm, I need a sweet treat, so I give in to a Diet Coke. There really is no way to make cola healthy, you can only reduce your intake, which I try and do. Dinner is traditional Indian fare, followed with three squares of dark chocolate.
Wednesday, Thursday & Friday Through the week, my meals remain fairly uniform, except on Thursday, when I take wholewheat pasta for lunch (it’s heavy, but still healthier than the regular stuff). I also have quinoa instead of rice or
roti for lunch on Friday. Quinoa is a South American super-food, it has its share of carbs, but is also a good source of protein for vegetarians,
which gives it an edge over rice.
Fear of the camera helps me curb any snacking on Wednesday, but that changes on Thursday, when a colleague brings mini cupcakes with sprinkles to work. Sadly, cupcakes are my favourite type of cake and the camera cannot keep me away from them. I wolf a couple down before any guilt tries to stop me! For dinner, our cook makes
chhole, dal makhani (calorific horrors!) with a combination of
paneer, cauliflower, and black olives, and stir-fried mushrooms. I make an effort to be good, so make up for the heavy accompaniments by eating just one roti. I usually try to cut out all carbs after 7pm, but that won’t be happening today. I finish with two squares of chocolate.
Saturday & Sunday
Lunch on Saturday is at an Italian restaurant, where I order wholewheat spaghetti in pesto sauce. Later that night, we attend a dinner party at my parents’ place, where my mother has laid out a Thai spread. I start the evening with a glass of beer, and follow it with red wine. I snack on olives, and for dinner, have crunchy spinach and papaya salad, followed by the carbheavy noodles, spicy red curry, stirfried veggies and tofu. Dessert is a delicious dark chocolate mousse.
On Sunday, I have my favourite
“I love cupcakes, and
no camera can stop me.”
lunchtime drink: Clausthaler nonalcoholic beer, which has half the calories of regular beer. Akash and I order in pizza, and do our best to keep it healthy by making it thin crust and wholewheat. It’s the last day of my Flash Food Diary week, and to redeem myself after the last two rather indulgent days, I keep dinner simple and skip chocolate!