It is a misconception that ‘being on a diet’ means you have to eat less and avoid oil consumption. This misconception must be corrected and everyone must understand the importance of diet for good health. I started my career as a pilot but I did not enjoy it. I started studying Diet and Nutrition to create awareness about diet among people. You don’t need to eat less to stay healthy; you just have to have a proper diet. There are many misconceptions regarding ‘diet’ among people and clearing the misconceptions is truly satisfying.
– Nupuur Patil, Nutritionist (Sports Nutritionist)
Basically, I am a nutritionist. Later, I turned to sports. I started with running, cycling and then took to swimming. Losing weight made me feel energetic and I could take up these sports. Many people think that I can run, cycle and swim because I exercise but in reality, it was the weight loss that helped me exercise.
After my 12th boards, I completed the pilot training course. I started my career as a commercial pilot in my twenties. I worked with Chartered Airlines as a pilot for the first two-and-a-half years. But I realised that it had adversely impacted my lifestyle. So I came back to India. I did my BSc in Bio-Technology from Savitribai Phule Pune University. Post that, I completed the courses needed to become a nutritionist and dietician. My curiosity about, and interest in this field was further fuelled and I went on to do different courses in the field. I still consider myself a student and continue to learn. I like to enhance my knowledge as newer research is being carried out every day. I love to use my knowledge for others.
From Dietitian to Sports Nutritionist
Initially, I studied the kind of food required by a healthy human being and the way food should be consumed. Then, I entered the field of Nutrition and Diet. An opportunity to become a Sports Nutritionist came up. Since I am a sportsperson, I was naturally inclined towards it and started studying it. Now I have been certified as a Sports Nutritionist by the Olympic Committee of India. I became an ambassador for the Union Government’s ‘Fit India’ campaign. Opportunities kept coming and I kept welcoming them.
Many state-level players are eligible to play at the national, international level. Often national-level athletes are mindful of their diet; especially good players feel that they should eat consciously to play their best. But it is also a fact that sports are not given as much importance in India as in many other countries. There are very good players in our country but due to a lack of infrastructure facilities, knowledge and neglect of diet, their potential is not fully exploited. Indian diet is mainly low in protein. That is why I try to convey the right information to the players and citizens through social media and various other mediums.
Fitness advice through ‘Fit India’
In 2019-20, I was selected as the ambassador for the Union Government’s ‘Fit India’ campaign. The campaign aims to create awareness about fitness among all citizens — from young to old — and wants every citizen to keep themselves healthy by incorporating sports and exercise in their daily life. After you become an ambassador for the campaign, you are asked to make a video on a given topic. These videos are sent to citizens. This campaign is helping to convey the importance of sports and exercise for good health. It has created awareness among many citizens.
The approach to mental illness
People are now paying enough attention to physical ailments. But ‘mental illness’ is viewed in a negative light even today. It is a fact that we do not look at it as a disease. We do not have enough information about mental illness, so we do not accept it as a disease. Or, even if we accept, we try to hide it and this is absolutely wrong. I suffered from depression between 2012 and 2014. At that time, I had a first-hand experience of how people look at mental illness. There is no reason to be ashamed of mental illness or hide it. We should look at it in the same way that we look at physical illness. The mind is also a part of our body. If we have a mental illness, we must admit it to ourselves. Only then we will be able to help ourselves better. There is a lack of awareness about mental health in India and attempts are being made at various levels to create that awareness. Western countries have a very different approach to mental health. They look at mental illness as just a disease.
A healthy and balanced lifestyle
Ayurveda and Yoga are two basic elements advised in Indian culture for sound health. Across the globe, Yoga is seen as a medicine or method of treatment for diseases. Since both Ayurveda and Yoga are originally from India, we must make the optimum use of them. Yoga asanas are extremely important for our health, not only for physical health and fitness but also for peace of mind and mental health. Through Ayurveda and Yoga, we are creating a new model of a ‘healthy and balanced lifestyle’ for the world to follow. We should spread the knowledge of Ayurveda, Yoga asana and Pranayama in the world. People across the world are looking for alternative medicines. Ayurveda assumes great importance here. Most Indian households know about Ayurveda and use various Ayurvedic treatments. For example, in case of an injury, the first treatment is to apply turmeric to the affected portion. There is a need to inform the world about Ayurvedic treatments. Efforts are being made for the same but more awareness needs to be created. In the past, people did not suffer from many diseases. Nowadays, the number of people falling sick and the types of diseases have increased. Thankfully, the awareness of the need to stay healthy is increasing too. The new generation is serious about fitness.
What is the required diet for good health?
An important topic will be discussed in the ‘Swasthyam’ programme organised by ‘Sakal’. The topic is, ‘The real meaning of the word Diet’ because the word ‘diet’ is often misinterpreted. This is not only happening in India but all over the world. It appears that people do not know the true meaning of ‘diet’. When we say we are going on a diet, the first thing that comes to our mind is that we will eat less, eat salad and skip ghee and sugar. This is completely wrong. Diet is eating our everyday food that benefits our health.
These days, wherever we go, we find fast food and junk food shops on a large scale. These shops have grown exponentially in the last 15 to 20 years. It shows that people are eating this ‘food’ and hence these shops have grown. And we have seen how junk food and fast food are affecting people’s health and leading to diseases. ‘Diet’ does not mean eating less and not eating oil or ghee. Ghee is very important for good health. We should have at least three tablespoons of ghee. It is also necessary to eat Varan-Bhaat. I feel truly happy when I clear the misinterpretation of the word ‘diet’ prevalent among people. I too have tried different types of diets.
I have done a lot of study and research on this in the last few years. These days, there is a new fad that carbohydrates and fatty foods should not be eaten. But this is very wrong. Our body must get good fat. I am trying a lot to create awareness among people that home-cooked food is the best for good health. Towards this goal, I will share my and the customers’ experiences so far and guide people on diet and the ways to have a healthy lifestyle.
— As told to Meenakshi Gurav