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Babuji zara dheere challo

I feel nothing when I look at chocolate cake: Yaana


When one sees Yaana Gupta gyrating to ‘Babuji zara dheere challo’ or the more recent strip number in ‘Murder 2’, it is easy to assume she is blessed with washboard abs and toned legs. Turns out, she struggles as much as everyone else to maintain her svelte figure and has had a particularly tough time getting rid of a tiny roll of fat on her belly.

The 32-year-old Czech Republic born model talks about battling an eating disorder, finding the right balance and shares her diet secrets in her book ‘How to love your body and get the body you love’ . TOI-Crest caught up with her.

You suffered from binge eating for 17 years. What would trigger the binges?

Bingeing was an emotional response with me. When I was not happy, when I had a bad day at school, I would end up eating something I did not usually allow myself. Then, once I had sinned, I felt my day was spoilt and I would continue to eat and vow to diet the next day. I used to crave simple things like sandwiches, not chocolates or ice creams, because I did not let myself eat breads.

When did you recognize you suffered from a disorder? Did you consult a doctor?

I knew something was wrong all along but I realised I was suffering from an eating disorder only four years ago after I went back home and my sister told me she would binge too. I went to a therapist twice. I didn't need more of it as I quickly realised my compulsive and imbalanced way of eating was caused by being on crash diets since I was 16 years old. I realised that all I needed to do, was self-therapy. I restored a positive attitude towards food and my body. The first step was to say no to crash diets.

How did you overcome the disorder?

I trained myself to start looking at food differently. Every time I used to look at a chocolate cake, I used to think 'oh my god, I should not have it, I will look terrible and people will call me fat'. I would resist the cake and have a little war with it. This creates negative energy inside one. I feel nothing now when I look at cake. I taste it. Big deal, I don't care about it. When you allow yourself to eat normally, the fascination for junk food disappears.

What is your current daily diet?

I start my day with two glasses of warm water with some lemon in it. For breakfast, I eat porridge with Stevia or organic bread and an egg white omelette. If I am travelling, I eat idlis with extra coconut chutney. It contains very good fats. When I am hungry next, I eat baked or grilled fish with brown rice and some salad.

When did you last cheat?

I don't cheat. That's because I have stopped considering certain foods 'forbidden' and restricting myself. I allow myself to eat anything I crave for, but I am also aware of the consequences so I often choose to eat healthy instead and when I don't, it is totally okay and I eat it with joy and a positive frame of mind.

I believe eating healthy should not come out of 'I should' but 'I want to', so when you eat something 'unhealthy' you are at peace about it and you can allow yourself to enjoy it thoroughly without feeling any guilt afterwards. This way, the fascination towards junk foods slowly disappears and with time, you notice you don't even crave these foods as often as before, as the craving is often a reaction to the resistance we develop inside our mind.

The book talks about models in India doping before going on the ramp. How prevalent is this? Did other models suffer from eating disorders?

I have never heard any model talk about suffering from an eating disorder, simply because nobody discusses this openly as it's considered to be a sign of a weak mind. I have heard that there is much more drug abuse now than there was when I entered the industry in India some ten years ago.

Do you love your body now?

I don't consider my body 'perfect' visually, but I know it is in a perfect shape for me as long as my mind is in a perfect state. I focus on loving myself unconditionally, so the body shape doesn't really matter. It doesn't stop me from feeling love and respect for my body.

Should people who are overweight love themselves for the way they are or lose weight first?

Everyone should love themselves first because then everything we do will be an act of love and therefore won't be destructive to our body or mind.

You have written that your belly was your weak spot. What is the best way to get rid of belly fat?

Exercising helps burn fat all over all body fat. High-intensity interval training is the most effective. There is nothing like spot reduction so doing endless repetitions of crunches won't really help. You will lose the belly in the process of lowering over all bodily fat percentage.

What food should one never touch?

Deep fried foods and soft drinks. Also limit white, refined sugar.

What is a must-have ?

If there was just one thing you wanted to do in order to become healthier is to drink plenty of good (mineral) water. Water is essential for every single process in our body and having less of it compromises all our organ's functions.

What's the best midnight snack?

Fresh fruits are the best as they get digested very fast, mostly within 30 minutes, apart from bananas that take 45 minutes. Alternatively have a smoothie or a soup.

You say fish oil is the best fat.

Yes, fish oil is very healthy as it contains the omega-3 fatty acids and has many health benefits. One of the best brands for oil is Udo's as it contains a balance of omegas 3, 6, and 9.

You put calcium power in your drinking water...

Yes. It is a good thing to do as calcium neutralizes acid in the body and lot of the foods we eat are of acid nature (meats, milk products, sugar, etc. ). Adding calcium to water makes it alkaline which helps to balance the body's inner environment. Adding lemon in water has a similar effect.

There are many diet books in the market. How is yours different?

I am not a dietician who has studied the topic, has impressive certificates or a celebrity clientele. Neither will I say 'I am your teacher'. What I really am, is 'you'. Yes, I am just a human being who has always struggled with fluctuating weight, negative body image, emotional eating or occasional overeating. I have tried all the diets, I have starved myself, I have binged, lost weight and regained it. But I have found my way out of that struggle, and arrived at a place of balanced eating, peace, happiness and self love. And since I am this one tiny step ahead, I can tell people how I got there and that's what I share in the book.

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