Now, if you stuck with the guidelines, usually spelt out so clearly that any half-wit could understand them, the chances are you would lose weight, as you would on any careful eating plan—but ‘if’ is of course the hardest word in this sentence. However, human frailty is not the point of this review. The point is: what makes Rujuta Diwekar’s book a winner? This Mumbai dietician has notched up the highest sales of this half-year (50,000 copies), outstripping IT czar Narayana Murthy, whose pearls of wisdom finished a poor second. Zip through her chatty book and you will know why. Rujuta’s ideas aren’t revolutionary. She is not the first of her tribe to extol the benefits of several small meals a day over three big ones; to advise you to get most of your eating done before sundown; to tell you to count nutrition rather than calories; watch your blood sugar levels and weight loss will follow, and so on. But when did you last read a diet book by an Indian writer that was halfway readable, funny, well-organised, sensible and persuasive, all at the same time? Told you both the rules and how to cheat intelligently, if you slipped up? And saved you from wading through Ayurveda English or illiterate sentences with either too many articles or too few ( "take juice of karela before the dawn"), or weird only-paneer-today, bran-rotis-tomorrow eating plans?
Because there haven’t been desi books worth the read, diet-book junkies have largely had to survive on Western bestsellers, which is harder work than it sounds. It means trying to relate to the woes of case study Katie A whose grandmother in Pennsylvania fed her only processed and packaged foods and goodies from the candy shop because she was too busy running her business. Oof, these Americans, you tsk-tsk virtuously as you read. Or then, you scratch your head wondering what to substitute for steak tenderloin and where to find extra-light Laughing Cow cheese. (The latter, prescribed by a wildly popular American diet, has now come to be stocked by upmarket Indian grocers, and at least one is known to nod knowledgeably and say, "Accha to aap South Beach pe hai" when customers ask for it).