'Let food be our health, our healing and our pleasure.'
Shamala Ratnesar is a leading dietician who has published two groundbreaking books on omega-3s, and has now turned her attention to the complete program she developed for her highly successful weight loss and lifestyle clinic in Sydney. For the past 9 years she has been treating people suffering from obesity, pre-diabetes, diabetes and heart disease, with stunning results, some verging on miraculous.
The Total LIFE Diet is based on a complete nutrition, health and weight loss program that dispels many myths about dieting. It also clears up the confusion about what constitutes a healthy balanced diet including what carbohydrate foods are. Did you know that fruit, dairy (except cheese and butter) and legumes are carbohydrate foods? With many years experience working in the public hospital system and in private practice, Shamala Ratnesar has developed a program that is safe, flexible and based on real science, real evidence and real results.
Shamala says that one of the most important keys to losing weight and controlling blood glucose levels are food quantities, which are vital. In the book she clearly explains what serve sizes are. For example, 1 serve of carbohydrate is 1 slice of bread, ½ cup of mashed potato, 1 apple, 1 large tub (200g) of diet flavoured yoghurt or 2 scoops of low-fat ice cream. She says that the secret formula to losing weight, maximising energy levels, controlling blood glucose levels and staying healthy is 2-3 serves of carbohydrate foods at meals and 1-2 serves as snacks.
On this diet you will never be hungry but will lose weight. She also uses easy to read tables and graphs to illustrate a day's eating plan, showing the best way to structure three meals and three snacks daily.
The highlight of the book is Shamala's ultimate meal plans which are supported by over 170 easy and delicious recipes from Mexico to Morocco, Italy to Australia. She includes many dishes that are not usually part of a diet plan including Eggs Benedict, pizza, burgers, trifle and black forest cake. She includes a full 7 day menu for each, with seasonal variations.
Her clients have had extraordinary results. Many with pre-diabetes have reverted to normal; those with diabetes have achieved excellent blood glucose control; virtually everyone lowers their LDL cholesterol and triglycerides; many have lowered their blood pressure; and they have lost weight and kept it off.
The Total LIFE Diet takes a whole new approach to food, health and weight control and is original, unique and different to other diets in many ways. It goes beyond GI to emphasize food quantities; shares vital information about omega-3s; shows people how to read food labels on packaged foods; provides shopping lists; tips for eating out; motivation; and the secret to losing weight while feeling full and energetic.
Shamala Ratnesar B.Sc, M.Sc, APD, AN, is a leading dietician, author and speaker based in Sydney. This book is based on her groundbreaking health and weight loss program.
The Total Life Diet
Total Life Diet Centre
Author: Shamala Ratnesar
Question: Simply, what is the The Total LIFE Diet?
Shamala Ratnesar: The Total LIFE Diet is a COMPLETE diet and lifestyle program that is scientifically-based, yet practical, easy and delicious and focuses on getting RESULTS for people.
It is a healthy and tasty diet that you can enjoy for the rest of your life!
Question: How does the program dispels many myths about dieting?
Shamala Ratnesar: I'm really keen to clear the confusion and share the good news that you can enjoy great food and great health at the same time.
You don't need any shakes, supplements or gimmicks; pills, potions or surgery. To lose weight and stay healthy, all you need is good healthy food eaten in the right quantities and at the right times.
Here are some myths that I've helped to dispel:
You can and should eat carbohydrate foods daily and you don't have to stop eating them after 2.00 pm! There is absolutely no scientific basis for this.
Canned and frozen vegetables are just as good as fresh varieties.
Omega-3 eggs are good for your heart.
A small amount of sugar - and even cake - can be included on a weight loss diet and even if you have diabetes.
Question: How did you go about developing The Total LIFE Diet?
Shamala Ratnesar: I have always been interested in food, nutrition and health. As a teenager, I tried many FAD diets that did not work. So I decided to become a dietitian to find out the truth about good nutrition, lasting weight loss and lifelong health.
When I was studying for my Master's degree at the University of Wollongong, I learnt how vital omega-3s were for our brain, heart, skin, eyes and total health. So my two previous books were on omega-3s.
As the levels of childhood and adult obesity as well as poor mental health, diabetes and heart disease continued to accelerate, I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to develop a program that would give both short-term results and long-term results. I wanted to create a new way of eating and living that was healthy and tasty, easy and effective.
So using all my knowledge and experience gained in the public hospital system (I worked as a health promotion consultant, diabetes dietitian and clinical dietitian), and in private practice, as well as my love of good food, I developed The Total LIFE Diet.
I believe that I have now discovered the secret formula for lasting weight loss and lifelong health - and I want to share it with everyone.
Question: If fruit and dairy are carbohydrate foods, can we still incorporate them into our diet?
Shamala Ratnesar: Absolutely yes! Carbohydrate foods are good for us, and are the main energy-giving food. Unfortunately, a lot of confusion has been created by the many FAD diets and misleading information circulating in the public arena.
We all need to include carbohydrate foods for good health, weight loss, energy and vitality. Carbohydrates are found in many foods such as bread and cereals (pasta, rice); starchy vegetables (potato, sweet potato, and corn); legumes (peas, beans and lentils); fruit and dairy products (except for butter and cheese).
It's the quantity of carbohydrate that we eat that's important. I've devoted a whole chapter in the book to carbohydrate, protein and fat quantities. It's called 'Food Quantities Are Vital' and will really help to clarify all the confusion and show people what carbohydrate foods are, and how much to eat at meals and snacks each day.
Question: Does the book include a meal plan? Can you provide us one days plan?
Shamala Ratnesar: Yes. The book includes 80 meal plans for gradual weight loss, rapid weight loss and weight maintenance as well as meal plans for kids, pregnant women, seniors, those with heart disease and inflammatory conditions. It also includes meal plans for vegetarians, meat lovers, people on a tight budget and those who are ultra-busy. And every one of these meal plans is ideal for prevention and management of diabetes.
Here's a meal plan from the Spring/Summer Menu of The Gradual Weight Loss Plan of The Total LIFE Diet. I've included some options to show you how flexible this diet is.
(1500-1600 calories or 6300-6720 kilojoules)
1 cup of tea or coffee
1 serve Berry Smoothie*
½ cup high-fibre or low-GI cereal, e.g. All-Bran or Special K Advantage
½ cup low-fat milk or 150g (5 oz) low-fat flavoured yoghurt
1 slice fruit bread/raisin toast with 1 teaspoon 100% fruit jam or diet jam
Fruit in season
1 Smoked Salmon Sandwich*
Side salad: ½ cup mixed salad leaves and 4 cherry tomatoes
Tuna and salad sandwich or omega-3 egg and rocket sandwich
1 cup of tea or coffee
Afternoon Tea1 cup skim/low-fat milk cappuccino, latte or hot chocolate
1 serve Roast Chicken with a White Bean, Beetroot and Artichoke Salad*
1 small multigrain bread roll
Grilled Chicken with Onion Relish*
1 medium mashed sweet potato, ¼ cup corn, ½ cup broccoli
1 tub (200g/7 oz) diet flavoured yoghurt
1 serve Skinny Chocolate Pudding*
1 cup strawberries
*These recipes as well as 170 more quick and easy, nutritious and delicious recipes are provided in the book.
Question: What foods are vital to weight loss?
Shamala Ratnesar: When it comes to weight loss, it's the total calories (or kilojoules) that matter. We need to cut down on the total calories so that we burn more calories than we consume. As fat has more than double the calories of carbohydrates or proteins, we need to eat a low-fat diet.
The best foods to include in a weight loss diet are about 2 serves of carbohydrate (2 slices of bread or 1 cup of pasta) at breakfast, lunch and dinner; substantial quantities of lean protein foods like skinless chicken; fish, omega-3 eggs and lean red meat; lots of 'free' vegetables and strawberries (that are also 'free') and a small amount of good fat - canola/olive oils and canola spread.
Very importantly, we need to add lots of herbs, spices and low-fat flavourings so that we get all the flavour without the calories. So healthy can be very tasty! This is a deliciously healthy diet that will keep us full and satisfied while we lose weight, and keep us healthy and happy for life.
Interview by Brooke Hunter