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Fit to lead: 4 BMC corporator aspirants are campaigning the healthy way

Hitting the BMC campaign trail means eight hours of daily walking, climbing stairs and endless talking. Here's how four BMC corporator aspirants have devised hacks for themselves

The January headlines had carried a snippet about a politician that tickled the reader with its irony. A 64-year-old sugar baron in Punjab's Kapurthala constituency, the state's richest candidate in the upcoming elections, had headed to Britain last October for a weight loss surgery. He returned 15 lighter ahead of campaigning for the state Assembly elections. On a diet of gluten-free chapatis and buffalo butter, he is now strictly off the refined sugar that's made him rich.

But, Punjab isn't going to polls alone. Things are also heating up in Mumbai, a city that will cast its vote for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) elections on February 21. With candidates having being announced on February 3 for the 227 seats in the fray, parties have already begun their prachar (door-to-door campaigning). And here's how the energy conservation plan is being executed across parties.

 

 

Pic/Nimesh Dave
Pic/Nimesh Dave

Bhavna Jain, 44, Congress
Healthy Move: Switched to jawar/nachni bhakri

In prep for the campaigning, Jain started walking on Juhu beach for an hour every day along with doing another hour-and-a-half of yoga to keep the spine and muscles flexible. Now, on the campaign trail, covering at least 10 chawls a day, she doesn't quite find the same time but ensures that she squeezes in half an hour of flexibility exercises and forward bends before stepping out. Vegetable juice of beetroot, spinach and tomato or gourd along with amla, helps boost her immunity.

 

"While I usually have a lunch of jowar or nachni roti with a sabji and dal, I am eating moong dal khichdi today. I suffered a migraine attack last night and threw up.

So, I want to keep my stomach light," adds Jain, who is contesting from ward no 64, Juhu. What she doesn't skip is a cup of ginger tea in the morning and she has made it a point to avoid oily food and pickles. But, a fan of cow ghee, she makes sure to add a tablespoon of it to her lunch. "If I get home late, I have a vegetable soup or haldi milk with jaggery," adds Jain. She also carries nuts and fruits with her in case hunger strikes and, doesn't compromise on seven hours of sleep.

Shonali Saberwal
Shonali Saberwal

Expert verdict
The tea may be bringing up Jain's acidic levels and the milk and yoghurt may be causing the migraines. Carrying the nuts is a good idea for a quick energy boost. The veggie juice is a good option, but Jain must start her day with a glass of this instead of ending it. For sustained energy, she should switch to a complex carbohydrate source like brown rice, millets or a bhakri with vegetable.

Pic/Shadab Khan
Pic/Shadab Khan

Swapna Deshpande, 39, MNS
Healthy Move: Switched to wearing sports shoes; carries nimbu paani to fend off dehydration

Thirty-nine-year-old Swapna Deshpande, the candidate for the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) from the electoral ward 191, Dadar, has managed to track her day thanks to the fitness band she's been using. Prachar, for all parties, begins at 10 am and ends at 1.30 pm. That's just round one. The second shift starts at 5 pm and could stretch to as late at 11 pm. This involves climbing stairs since several building don't have elevators, knocking on every door in the constituency. "On an average, I walk more than 16,000 steps daily. While the distance we cover isn't much, the number of steps is a lot," says Deshpande, who was a tehsildar level officer at MHADA before quitting the government job to become an MNS candidate when the seat, previously held by her husband Sandeep Deshpande, was reserved for women.

Deshpande's most practical change to her campaign lifestyle has been to don sports shoes while touring. It may not be the most fashionable choice given that salwar kameez is her staple costume, but it keeps her feet cushioned and she says she hasn't had an ache to complain of in the last two weeks.

Breakfast is usually home-cooked poha, upma or idli. Lunch and dinner, too, are home affairs and could be vegetarian or non-vegetarian, but nothing spicy or oily. She makes it a point to rest between 1.30 pm and 5.30 pm.

"I perspire a lot," says Deshpande even as we begin to notice beads trickling down her cheeks, despite a wee bit of chill in the air. To offset the dehydration that could set in, Deshpande carries nimbu paani mixed with sugar and salt.

Expert verdict
Macrobiotic nutritionist, chef and author of The Detox Diet, Shonali Saberwal says Deshpande seems to be doing the right thing. Her breakfast and meals are well planned and she is catching up on much needed rest. She'd do better if she avoided sugar in the nimbu water and added Stevia, a more stable sugar from a natural source. Also, using rock salt instead of regular table salt helps maintain the right sodium/potassium balancing electrolytes.

Rupali (centre) with NCP workers. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
Rupali (centre) with NCP workers. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar

Rupali Raorane, 36, National Congress Party
Healthy Move: Adopted a liquid diet; skips dinner

Rupali is contesting from Malad East. A sitting corporator, she says her lifestyle is hectic already. Now that campaigning has begun, her day begins at 10 am and ends at 1 am when she finally catches some sleep.

To cut down acidity, she has stopped drinking tea. Instead, she drinks canned juice. Lunch is chapati and sabji, but she is unable to find regular hours for it. She admits to skipping dinner. She carries fruit to have when she is peckish. "Often, while on the door-to-door campaign people offer us sweets or tea, which we nibble on. There is almost always something we are chewing on. We can't refuse."

Expert verdict
Canned juice is not the answer. It has an overload of sugar. Even fresh fruit juice is unhealthy. She should be doing a green or veggie juice. Given the hours she puts in, a raw dinner of juice and fruits is not advised. In fact, she seems to be eating just one meal a day, which is a bad idea. She must add a dal to her meals and have a cooked dinner and lunch. Breakfast should be brown rice poha with veggies to help balance her sugar levels.

Pic/Shadab Khan
Pic/Shadab Khan

Rais Shaikh, 42, Samajwadi Party
Healthy Move: Drinks two spoons of a 'blood purifier'

The Samajwadi Party candidate from Byculla, who moved base after his previous constituency, Govandi, became reserved for women, hit the headlines in the last BMC elections after he lost his voice while campaigning. He needed to undergo a 14-day recuperation period followed by a voice modulation programme. "Now, I take care of my voice by drinking warm water and observing an hour's silence," he adds. While Shaikh had hit the gym the last time and dropped several kgs ahead of campaigning, being a sitting councilor this time round, meant he didn't have time on hand. These days, however, he ensures he gets a half-hour workout of stretching exercises to address the niggles in his back and knees. Another addition to his routine has been two spoons of a syrup that has been marketed as a 'blood purifier'. "Most people associate it with acne, but it's about cleansing your blood by facilitating digestion. I mix it with warm water at night," he adds.

Shaikh's breakfast of two eggs and one roti might be the only constant meal plan in his routine. He also has majoun, a confection made of dried fruits and honey to up his energy levels. He says he keeps his meals small and light, and minimises rice intake. His one vice is black coffee. "I drink countless cups," he says with a sheepish look. What sustains him through hours of campaigning and negotiation? "My sense of humour," he smiles.

Expert verdict
He could add vegetables to his breakfast to help with fibre intake. Majoun, which seems heavy with sugar from honey and dried fruit could get addictive. It can end up causing more sugar craving. He could benefit by adding brown rice instead of white rice to his diet for sustained blood sugar levels. This will also better his digestion as it adds to the insoluble fibre needed to make digestion and elimination easier. Black coffee will end up producing acidic blood while throwing sugar levels off. He needs to limit it to one cup a day.

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