When you come out of a bad marriage, and start spilling the beans, albeit only to those close to you, it always amazes your family and friends, why you took so long to realize that things were going wrong.
But the thing is that when you are in a marriage, it is not all bad, not always bad. There are good moments, happy moments, moments when you see the man in the same room as you are, and are quite sure about why you married him.
Then there is a moment in that very same room, when it strikes you that it is not working, it is never going to work.
It has been like that at this hotel here in Bangalore. It struck me after 2 months that the food here is horrible because it is made with cheap oil, overused oil. Despite all the efforts to lay out the buffet table, and the friendly, courteous waiters, there is a carelessness with which the food is prepared that reveals itself after a long stay and daily eating.
There have been good moments. Some dishes tasted good the first couple of times one ate them; sometimes in a buffet, a dish turns out reasonably well. But mostly it is indifferent gravies, potatoes cooked in the same oil as the fish, cheap vegetables and meat disguised with a surfeit of masalas and oil.
It is after the first two weeks here, that I consulted a dietician. On a shoot away from home, it is quite unbelievable how much you end up eating. Someone is having a fresh lime soda in the evening, well, why not, you could do with one. Someone is having a pastry, and you grab a spoon, and take a few bites. Someone is having a sandwich with chips, and you feel hungry. It occurred to me that at the end of 4 months, I would pile on more kilos to the excess ones I already had.
The talk with the dietician was quite revealing despite all my reading up on Rijuta Diwekar’s books. I had always believed that I ate healthily. But I realized that in the last 20 years, I have given up almost all the food I ate as a child, adapted to other people’s eating habits, got used to other foods. With that, I also learnt to eat when stressed. And though I ate small meals, who was counting those pieces of chocolate, the ice-creams, the vada pavs now and then, those little bits of this and that and so on, so on, so on?
A cosmetic surgeon at the hospital here said to me, “It’s mainly women who worry about their weight. I see many obese men out there, but hardly any come for consultations. But with the women, their weight is a problem, how they look, what they wear, there are so many issues.” He continued, “Most women come and say, but Doctor, I hardly eat anything. Well, that’s not true. The calories come from eating, they don’t come from the air or water.”
A bariatric surgeon at the hospital says, “It is surprising how little food our bodies really need.”
I sat in at the obesity clinic one day. 3 patients came in that morning.
The first is 45 kilos overweight and has many emotional issues. But she is also surprisingly candid about her problems. She does not have a supportive husband, and lives only for her children. Despite her cathartic outpouring to the doctor, she went back home and is reluctant to take the medical tests the doctor has asked her to take. She has been on many diets, followed many fads, taken a lot of pills and never lost weight. She was hoping the doctor would just operate on her and make her thinner. He wanted her to exercise, diet and come to terms with her eating habits before he considered surgery.
The second patient is 15 kilos overweight and content with life. She has a supportive husband who knows more about her than she does herself, when she had last had medical tests done, what her height is. She had never bothered with her weight until now. As she grows older, she can’t keep up with her children. She also thinks she may develop other health problems because of her weight and would like to resolve the problem before it is too late.
The third is a Brazilian woman, she has put on weight after the birth of her 2 children. She wants to get her breasts operated on next year. I am not sure, but I think she wants a breast reduction. And she wants to lose weight overall before then. She is 10 kilos overweight, and had not realized that she had put on weight slowly over the years.
It fascinated me that all these 3 women were so different in their backgrounds and temperaments and yet were struggling with the same problem of weight. I look at myself and I see that I too have slowly added a few kilos to myself every year without realizing it.
I am not sure I can lose those kilos, but at least I can make sure I don’t add any more. Instead I add more nutrients to my food than I’ve been getting.
I don’t find it hard to diet here, it’s quite easy to make up most of the meal with cucumbers, tomatoes and carrots, dry fruits and chicken, milk and cereal, fruit.
But when the oil gets too rancid, I think it is all right if I have a spoon of gaajar ka halwa, and then take 2. And when I get some reality-inducing calls from home, I find myself reaching out for a piece of chocolate.
Well, at least I know now where the calories are coming from. But it is one thing to know what healthy eating is, and another to eat healthily. It is one thing to know your marriage is not working, and another to walk out.
Life is never easy, sigh. And we haven’t started talking yet of exercise.
Edited to add: Most of the time though, I sit at the table and watch what people fill up their plates with and how much they pile up. I shake my head, silently, critically. But I don’t say, “Walk away, walk away”, even though I want to.