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.

Cosmopolitan (India) - - HEALTH -

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!

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