Dieting tips that you didn’t know you knew and other homely stories
[dropcap]A[/dropcap] young fitness enthusiast was giving me tips on how to lose weight. He was quite sure he had discovered the best method for weight loss. He went into a long explanation about how you can fool the body into believing it has gotten enough food, so it can start using up stored fat, and cause the body to lose weight. One of his tips was this: drink two glasses of water before a meal, and the other: drink water during meals. Drinking two glasses of water when one is hungry, and the stomach is craving for food, fools the body into thinking it is full. This is effective because it makes the dieter automatically limit the intake of solid food. Drinking water during the meal also achieves the same effect.The other tip was: never go to bed on a full stomach. Never lie down after a meal. Rather try to burn some calories by moving around for some time after a meal. Resist every urge to lie on the sofa or take a nap after mealtimes. Both methods were the complete opposite of what our mums impressed upon us when we were growing up.
“Don’t let that child drink water now!” Mum would caution the helper as she prepared us for dinnertime. Both Grandmother’s generation and Mum’s generation adamantly insisted on drinking water only after meals to make sure we finished our meals. And here was my young friend earnestly telling me that drinking water before meals was the secret to losing weight. What would Mum have to say to that? I thought gleefully.
Our evening meals were always served early keeping the younger members in mind. At home, a child going to sleep without eating dinner was tantamount to a cardinal kind of sin. But the thought of deep slumber was such a temptation after a long day of school, rounded off by our robust games of cowboys and Indians. “Don’t let that child go to bed without eating!” was a mumly refrain oft heard in childhood.
A helpful uncle reinforced that voice by telling me and my brother that if we went to bed without eating, ‘Riatsümia’ or the intestine-eaters would come under cover of darkness. Our uncle said they always came to the children’s beds and listened to their stomachs while they were sleeping. The ‘Riatsümia’ were so clever that they could tell apart the children who had eaten their dinner from the ones who had not. “Oh this one has eaten food and his innards are full of funny stuff. Ugh I can’t possibly eat him. What if I should bite into the funny stuff? Eew! But this one, my oh my, she has not eaten anything tonight, and that means her intestines will be free of all that funny stuff food turns into once they go inside children’s stomachs. Yum yum, this one will make a nice dinner for me.” (On reflection that would make a nice horror storybook for children).
With this rather dramatic enactment, our uncle drove all drowsiness from our little minds, and brother dear and I would hurry to the kitchen so we could go to bed on a full stomach. The point in narrating this anecdote is that we were raised to believe it was dangerous to go to bed hungry. It also instilled a sense of guilt and some dread should we go to sleep without eating. The body adjusted itself thereby, to always eating something before bed. Even today, if I am sleepless in the wee hours, I get up and eat a little something, and am able to sleep again: I have faithfully lived by all the good old home grown advice received in my early years. And now this young man was insisting that in order to lose weight, I should do all that my mother told me not to do. What was one to make of that?
I think it was King Solomon who said there is nothing new under the sun. If the old way of doing things does not work anymore, do it the reverse way. Either way, at some point you will lose weight, if not from the water consumption, at least from the stress of trying.