The restricted calorie diet

Read somewhere that mice put on very low calorie diets, read just enough to make them buzz around with requisite energy to last the day, tend to have a longer life. Something to do with them telomeres shortening or lengthening and such esoteric stuff that I will leave best to them scientist types to explain coherently, and just stick to the essence of it all, which translates into ‘restricted calorie diet’.

Now for a person to whom the word diet itself is accompanied by the skull and bones emblem and the words danger, inflammable, poisonous and all such associated imagery, this premise was not intriguing. At all. And as I rationalised, as much rationalisation as I can do, given that I rationalise eating one piece of cake with the very valid reason of wanting to eat it, did I really want an extended life with the wrinkles slapped on or a life that offered me an aches and pains free body, but one that happily had me consigned to the furnace by age 60. Which is a decent age to die according to me. When I was 19, 40 was the perfect age to die according to me, but now that am a couple of years away have extended my deadline.

Wouldnt want to be a living skeleton laid up on a bier with the family hanging around waiting to chuck me into the electric oven. And going off to celebrate the riddance, with a quiet wake where people would get drunk and tell nasty stories about how I attempted to poison them with my cooking. Or slow gas them with perfume fumes.

Back to restricted calories. There had to be something to this damn diet, given that they tell us that people who live long and stay healthier eat less, stay active more, and cut out the meat. Simple enough, eh? But not to me. The husband, on one of his rare religious trips, has decided to give up alcohol and non vegetarian food for the month of Shravan and tried haplessly to rope me in to keep in company. Actually, he started off under the assumption that I would follow him meekly like a cow in his religious whims and fancies, and was actually quite taken aback when I flatly refused. And when I told him abstinence to me would mean abstinence at every level and was he willing for me to take that vow for a month. Yep. I think not. So he went ahead with his shravan and I chewed my animal proteins in peace.

The alcohol I have given up a while ago, and strangely dont even feel the need to get back to downing them spirits again. But the month is almost up, and the man is looking slimmer and tauter and handsomer than he did before he started out, and I am doing a rethink on my obstinate refusal to join him in the detoxification of the body. But am tempted. Will think about it seriously after a day when I have grossly overeaten and am metaphorically kicking myself on the shin for my disgusting lack of self control on food intake issues. That will probably be the best time to resolve to go on an instant fruit, veggie and nuts diet and not feel all martyr-like about it.

Coming back to the calorie restricted diet, decided to try it out. With me calorie restriction would mean one paratha instead of two. Half a pastry instead of a whole. You know. I believe in gradually depriving the body of the treats it is used to.

Seriously though, the diet does make sense. Eat only as much as the body requires to live on. Dont overload your digestive system. Think of them miracle men who live for months on water and sunshine and know that you will survive, despite the smog in the air and the pollutants and ecoli in the water.

And more importantly, you can buy more clothes with the money you save from the restaurant bills you dont need to pay anymore. And what’s better, you might actually be able to fit into them too.

Need anymore compelling reasons to cut down that calorie intake right now?

Some links worth checking out:

About Kiran Manral

Kiran Manral is the bestselling, award-winning author of ten books. She was a journalist at The Asian Age, The Times of India, features editor Cosmopolitan, India Cultural Lead and Trendspotter at Gartner Iconoculture, Senior Consultant at Vector Insights and is currently Ideas Editor, SheThePeople.TV apart from consulting on independent research and media projects. She was shortlisted for the Femina Women Awards for Literary Contribution in 2017. The Indian Council of UN Relations (ICUNR) with the Ministry of Women and Children, Govt of India, awarded her the International Women’s Day Award 2018 for excellence in the field of writing. Her novella, 'Saving Maya', was long-listed for the 2018 Saboteur Award, supported by the Arts Council of England in the UK. Her novels 'The Face At the Window’ and ‘Missing, Presumed Dead' were both long-listed for Jio MAMI Word to Screen, and ‘The Face at the Window’ was also shortlisted for the South Asian Film Festival 2019 . Her books include 'The Reluctant Detective', 'Once Upon A Crush', 'All Aboard', 'Karmic Kids-The Story of Parenting Nobody Told You', 'A Boy’s Guide to Growing Up', 'True Love Stories', 'Saving Maya' and ’13 Steps to Bloody Good Parenting.’ She also has published short stories in various magazines, in acclaimed anthologies like Have A Safe Journey, Boo, The Best Asian Speculative Fiction, Magical Women and City of Screams.
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6 Responses to The restricted calorie diet

  1. Priyanka says:

    Lol…”abstinence to me would mean abstinence at every level and was he willing for me to take that vow for a month”
    And I guess your philosophy makes perfect sense: about gradually cutting down on portion size… that way I guess my body won’t go into sugar-withdrawal symptoms and won’t get hallucination-inducing cravings. Plus, every portion cut down – however small – IS a step towards the diet, right? 😉
    This might work!! Now all I need to do is remember that throughout the day – especially at dessert time 😉

    I normally do eat rather sparingly, even less than what my four year old does. I guess I think the body is hoarding onto the little that it gets. Exercise is what I need. Now that its drier, and the monsoon seems to have gone, am getting back to walking.


  2. aneela says:

    try going on a detox diet…but one step at a time…its a killer the first couple of days but worth it eventually, and if nothing else you will feel really really energetic… all the better to chase the Brat..basically cut out the meat and dairy products.

    Eliminating foods that are hard on metabolism, such as caffeine, alcohol, processed food (incl. any bread), pre-made or canned food, salt, sugar, wheat, red meat, pork, fried and deep fried food, yellow cheese, cream, butter and margarine, shortening, etc., while focusing on pure foods such as raw fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, raw nuts and seeds, fish, vegetable oils, herbs and herbal teas, water, etc.

    Stock up on “Raw food”…try fasting on weekends…if you cant do the whole Ramadan thing, try sticking to soups,water and juice
    Increase consumption of fish (you are in Mumbai…that must be easy…but dont fry it, stuff a whole fish with lemon juice,carrots, mushrooms and spring onions, half a teaspoon of honey, soya sauce, and chillies, ginger/garlic) marinade for a while and then bake it in a foil for 40 minutes..just lemon juice, lemon grass and chillies and steaming like the Thais is also yummy and low-cal.

    My sister swears on only eating proteins one day adn only carbs the next…just dont mix the two.

    they also say taht if you have sugar cravings…refering to the pastries et Lindt, stock up on yellow foods, sweet corn, pumpkin..

    Or do what the French do…eat everything you like but dont feel guilty, eat socially…there will be no starvation accompanied by “guilty hoarding” .

    Aneela, I dont eat red meat. Only chicken and fish, maybe a couple of times a week. No butter, oil, fried foods. No bread. No thick gravies. Chocolates, and sweets maybe a couple of nibbles a week. One pastry in a week perhaps. No alcohol. No milk products, paneer pieces once or twice a week. Our basic meals are dal, rice, roti and sabji. Cooked light. Peanuts a handful to quench hunger pangs.
    We eat pretty healthy. Now all I need to do is cut down portions further and step up the exercise which got derailed thanks to the rains. I overeat only perhaps a couple of times a month, but then I eat healthy and minimal before and after to compensate. Its only exercise that can save me now.


  3. Abha says:

    i cant do it! i just know!!

    but you go girl!! 🙂



    Of course you can love. All of us can.


  4. M says:


    I can only provide anecdotal evidence, and being vegetarian, don’t have the whole meat issue to contend with, but restricting calories works fine for me. I have asthma, and found that restricting myself to liquids (soups, fresh fruit juice, light tea) helped a lot with the attacks. After the kids, I lost all the pregnancy weight *only* by calorie restriction – I tried working out, but am very bad at keeping to it (it bores me senseless!) so needed some way to get some energy back. I cut back on white rice, cheese, oil (potato chips are a major weakness) and ate a lot of hearty salads (not lettuce etc., but boiled channa/rajma with capsicum, tomatoes etc. More like chaat) and saw the weight just melt off. I see that anytime my diet changes to include more processed foods or high calorie foods (such as when travelling), I feel bloated, and lack energy. Once I lost the weight, I went back to eating “normally” – i.e. making an effort to eat only what I need etc. So far so good – I am nowhere near toned, but am at least close to target weight for my height.


    You make immense sense. Will try it out too. Have cut back on intake. And I anyway eat rather healthy despite what I write here… (dont believe everything I write), Hopefully should work.


  5. Suki says:

    I shall gloat. I do not like fried food, so eating for me is healthy by default. Ask Mad Momma. At the mini-Delhi meet I wolfed down the ham-chicken-egg-cheese sandwich like.. umm.. a starved wolf, refused to share even a bite, and passed the French fries around like a high society hostess. My eating habits rock. If I could get myself to eat by the clock or body clock instead of by the whim.

    That said, I need exercise. Pronto.

    Yup, I’m just a protein carb freak too. Not too kicked about fried stuff or sweet stuff. Once a week maybe. But exercise, thats mandatory. On my feet the entire day. Does that count? 😉


  6. sraikh says:

    Yesterday, i told myself, no carbs for me. Just for the heck of it.
    So I didnt eat any bread, roti, rice, noodles, biscuits,crackers..By 6.30p/m, I had a migraine. Horrible headache, made myself chai and ate cornflakes.
    By 8.00, I was eyeing my kid’s rice and soy sauce chicken.
    By 9.00, I made myself a glass of Milo and dunked 2 chocolate chip cookies in them and went to bed..

    For me, the key to losing weight has been exercising.
    I now average 5 miles of walking per day with weights training thrown in every other day.
    With portion control and common sense,I lost 4 dress sizes since Jan I think, remember one of your first posts about walking 🙂 I know go on hate me now 🙂

    Nah I dont hate you, I admire you. I think my key with the PCOD and the thyroid has been basically staying at the level I am without ballooning up further. LOL.


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