You know you are in a fitness enthusiast's home when you are served pocket-sized multigrain sandwiches and dry fruits. The person in question is Shilpa Shetty Kundra. The 40-year-old Bollywood actress doesn't look her age when she greets us at her sea-fronting home in Juhu. She broke new ground when she released a yoga DVD in 2008, and was one of the first from the film industry to promote fitness.

The actress at her Juhu home. Pic/Sayed Sameer Abedi
The actress at her Juhu home. Pic/Sayed Sameer Abedi

She is now ready to share her wisdom on health and fitness in a book, titled, The Great Indian Diet. Scheduled for release on Nutrition Day (November 19), the book has been co-authored by nutrition and fitness expert Luke Coutinho.

Back to the kitchen
The book is Kundra's effort to bring the focus on the Indian kitchen for fitness. "I have tried to bust pre-conceived notions about Indian food. People think Indian food is fattening and high on sodium, which is untrue. A simple dish like rajma chawal is a complete meal; it has the right amount of protein, nine amino acids; it's equivalent to eating an egg. But people are tucking into quinoa instead," she explains.

Kundra has shared examples from her lifestyle choices — be it planning her three-year-old son Viaan's diet, to her recipes. Coutinho pitches in the expert opinion. "Everybody cannot afford a nutritionist, and you end up browsing the Internet. One site will suggest cashew nuts as being good while the next will trash the idea. That's where Luke came in. He has also worked towards rehabilitating cancer patients using Indian food. Imagine, the West is looking towards India, and here, people are unable to value it. It's all about discipline," she asserts.

Not born this way
Despite the sun-kissed radiance on the actress' face, she tells us that she has been battling the sniffles since a couple of days. When we prod her to let us in on the secret of looking good when ill, she's forthcoming, "People always think that Shilpa Shetty is the way she is because she is genetically blessed or 'Woh toh kuch khaati hi nahi hai!' I think more than my movies I take it as a complement that people look at me as somebody who is synonymous with good health.

Shilpa Shetty Kundra. Pic/Sayed Sameer Abedi
Shilpa Shetty Kundra. Pic/Sayed Sameer Abedi

I am just like any other woman. I had gained 31 kilos when I delivered Viaan; I was like Shilpa Shetty and a half! I ate everything. I imagined that I would never lose weight. That proved that if I don't have control, I would put on weight too," she reveals. Stating another example, she tells us that like several people, she has water retention on some days too.

Being a mum
One can see that her life revolves around her son, as she eagerly waits for him to come home post a long day at school. Like her routine, Kundra also insists on keeping an eye on Viaan's diet. Her book will include tips on making your child eat right too. "What you feed your child is very important. I am against aerated drinks and packaged food. What you teach your child to eat at this age is what he/she would end up growing up with.

My three-year-old son tells me, 'Mama, you cannot eat lollipops because they give you cavities!' Though you have to negotiate with your child, Viaan has never eaten a bag of chips. But I give him homemade fries with haldi, salt and chilli powder. He loves drinking ginger lemon honey water and fresh juices. A child doesn't know anything; you have to tell them what is good and what isn't. Once he reaches 12 or 13, I don't know what will he do, but I am doing my duty now!" she laughs.

Make time for fitness
Kundra has dabbled with several things, from co-owning a shopping channel, cricket team to being a reality show judge, all the while taking care of her son. We ask whether she owns a secret time management genie, "Everybody has forgotten how to breathe. Spend at least 10 minutes a day and concentrate on your breathing.

Take another 10 minutes to eat your home-packed lunch. If your boss stops you, you need to leave that job!" she advises, while shelling pistachios for Viaan who, by now, is back from school. Getting philosophical she says, "If you fall sick you will take out time. Why reach that level? Instead, take care when you are healthy."

Magic Mantra: For new mums & weight watchers
When I was losing weight after my pregnancy, I would eat nearly four eggs a day. Eggs keep your stomach full for longer. When you are trying to lose a lot of weight, you always stress about not getting to have food. This results in your body producing extra cortisol, slowing down metabolism. Eating has a lot more to do with your mind than your stomach. Don't tell yourself that you are dieting.

Make a change in your life to be healthy not because you want to fit into a dress or because you have a party to attend. If you follow the diet plan in the book and can't workout, walk for at least four times a week. Some form of exercise is a must. Strike the 70% diet and 30% exercise balance. This combination helps lose weight.