How healthy is your diet: an interaction with nutritionist Ankita Sehgal

- March 25, 2022
| By : Judith Mariya Antony |

With trending new diets, comes a lot of misinformation that might be harmful for our health. Patriot talks with a nutritionist to bust the myths and learn the correct ways of dieting. 

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Maintaining your body in the perfect shape has always been a gruelling task. The thought of following diets, cutting down on your favourite foods, and following a physical exercise routine was unnerving until a few years ago. But now, people have become conscious of their body and health problems related to body weight.


Ketogenic diet and intermittent fasting are the most common diet practices seen these days besides gluten-free diet, vegan diet and pegan diet. Crash diets like liquid diets are also seen which are used to cleanse or reset your digestive system but can prove fatal as might have happened recently with Shane Warne.

Ketogenic diet

The ketogenic diet comprises foods with high fat, low carbohydrates and adequate protein. The diet involves replacing carbohydrates intake with fat. The resultant reduction in fats puts your body in a metabolic state called ketosis. During this process, the body becomes efficient at burning fat for energy. 

The different types of ketogenic diets include – standard ketogenic diet with low carb, moderate protein and high fat; cyclical ketogenic diet which allows five ketogenic days followed by two days of carb refeeds; targeted ketogenic diet which allows you to add carbs around workouts; and high protein ketogenic diet, which is similar to standard ketogenic diet but with more protein.

Intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting is a diet plan which restricts you to have your meals in a particular time window. Generally, people choose eight hours of window of eating, which can be from 10 am to 6 pm or 11 am to 7 pm.

Gluten free diets

This diet strictly eliminates gluten and protein present in wheat or other wheat varieties and grains. This diet plan can help a person maintain their shape and is mostly recommended for those who are gluten sensitive. 

Vegan diets

Vegan diets include the consumption of only vegetables and food processed from plants. Vegans avoid food that comes from animals, including dairy products and eggs. Soy milk and oat milk are used as alternatives for milk.

Pegan diet

The pegan diet is the combination of paleo and vegan practices. 75% of the diet is filled with vegetables and fruits and the remaining 25% with meats, eggs and healthy fat.

With new diet trends coming in and people following it without proper consultation, it can cause major health issues. Patriot talked to nutritionist Ankita Sehgal regarding the effects of diet plans and the healthy ways to maintain your body. While Sehgal has been working in this field for 14 years, she is also the founder and chief-dietician of Nutrition Matters.

Nutritionist Ankita Sehgal

How should one follow diet trends?

Keto and intermittent fasting are trending these days. At times, people don’t understand the pros and cons and they blindly follow the trend. But, a balanced eating pattern along with a healthy lifestyle is the solution to each and every health issue. Whether it be weight loss or anything else. Even if you’re suffering from any health issues, we generally emphasise on balanced eating patterns. Your meal should have all kinds of nutrients phased out equally. Not all diet plans can suit everyone. Intermittent fasting can give results for some people but it can be detrimental for others. People often talk about acidity issues while on intermittent fasting due to the time interval between each meal. It doesn’t mean that intermittent fasting is bad. We have to see what suits the person and what is their requirement. Only then can we suggest a diet plan. Blindly following diet trends isn’t advisable.

Often, people confuse diet plans with less eating and starvation. That’s not the idea. It’s just about eating healthy, eating according to your body type and requirements at the right time. Results can vary from person to person depending on the body type.If somebody has lost five kgs or eight kgs a month, then one should not compare their weight loss and diet plans. Your aim is to lead a healthy life by not only following a diet, but also by following physical activity at least four to five days a week, sleeping on time, and drinking enough water. These are the factors which contribute and play a vital role in your overall health.

Everyone hopes for a speedy change while following a diet plan, what effects do fast recovery have on the body?

People are very desperate and impatient. They keep on eating only to realise one day that they have put on weight. So they want to lose weight to get back in shape or maybe for other health reasons. It is very important to understand healthy weight loss. You can lose weight by following a particular diet, or combination of diets or crash diets. I have had clients who avoid chapatis or consume two meals per day. They can lose around 30 kgs quickly, but it is not a sustainable weight loss. They end up gaining more weight after they stop with the diet, because once they start eating their regular meals, their body is not able to take it up. Anything which is giving you quick results is going to cost you deficiencies, low energy and irritability. You will not be able to perform day-to-day activities efficiently like you used to. That should not be the aim of any diet plan. 

How should one keep up after the diet plan?

Mindful eating is always required. Once you have attained your goal, you cannot eat anything around you. You should aim at conscious eating. Once you understand your body’s requirements, it is not difficult.  For example, if you’re working, it is better to plan your day in advance. This will help you keep yourself healthy and maintain your weight.

The trend of including chia seeds, flax seeds and avocados is increasing. How effective is it?

These are healthy and we can include them in the diet. Thinking that only these things will help you in achieving any particular health goal is not true. Depending on the respective health concerns, these can be consumed along with our basic Indian diet which includes roti, dal, sabzi, rice and a variety of foods. Although, avocados are something that not everyone can afford.

How often should non-veg products be included?

Chicken or meat should be included once or twice a week as it takes time to digest. If you eat these products often, your body can’t metabolise them and the substance remains undigested in your body. If it remains for a long period of time, it can cause health issues. Eating these products in the right amount will only provide benefits. 

In an Indian household, what can be considered as a balanced diet?

Indian meals are good enough to keep us healthy. Eating home-cooked food, with less dependency on ready-to-eat or junk food, can keep you healthy. The consumption of  home-cooked meals at regular intervals reduces the urge to junk food. The idea is to infuse a variety of foods like poha, upma and other dishes for breakfast.

The rice-dal combination should be included once in a week or once in two weeks. Our body can handle one to two cups of tea or coffee. Too much dependency on these is harmful as they act as stimulators which fluctuate your moods. The ultimate rule is to add a variety of home cooked meals cut down on outside food.

Are cheat days or cheat meals allowed when dieting?

I would suggest having a cheat meal once a week or once in 15 days. But it should not be taken as a day to eat too much. Even when you’re eating a meal of your choice, avoid ready-to-eat food or foods that are cheesy. Everything can be consumed if you eat in a decent manner, or if you eat in moderate quantities.

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