Thursday, 20 June 2013

Weight Loss - post partum regime : diet and exercise

I have had an eternal battle with food and weight ever since I reached my teens. I was relatively thin in college but I believe that the relationship with food that I had even then was not right. I would see someone else thinner than me in college and aim to be that thin - never was I happy with myself and the way I looked. It has now been 6 years since my college days , and I believe I am eating slightly better and my body image issues have slightly improved since then.Every year my new year resolution has weight loss as one of the points! To me, it felt like I was in a never-ending diet-saga all these years and last year Jan 2012 when I discovered that I was pregnant, suddenly I felt like I had the license to eat whatever I wanted. All those years of crash-dieting made me feel that now was the time where I could indulge in all kinds of things in the name of pregnancy-cravings because after all I was going to gain weight so how did it matter what I ate. The one time when I needed to eat healthier because I was raising a child within me - I ended up binge-eating even more. Don't get me wrong , I ate quite a lot of fruits and raw veggies and perhaps walked more in my life than ever before during my pregnancy - but every meal was also accompanied by mixture and kai murrukus and every night I had to indulge in sweets ! Thus, on the day of my delivery I weighed 96 kg having put on a solid 26 kg in one pregnancy. 

Of course I do not regret all that weight gain today. I had a healthy pregnancy and a normal delivery and a healthy baby after all of that. I also lost all of that pregnancy weight within a span of four months thanks to my mom's amazing Bannantana (the post-partum regime traditionally followed in Karnataka) accompanied by sleepless nights and a constant never-ending breast-feeding session with my son over the course of the first few months of his life. 

At the end of it all - I have had many people asking me how I was able to lose all that weight gain so soon. Hence, I m documenting here all that I did in the first three months after my delivery. Whatever I describe below happened for the first three months - every single day of the first three months - I ate the same food, followed the same regime, breastfed my son 24*7. 

It is important to note that the Bannantana regime is followed for the first three months after delivery and this regime is designed to help reduce weight, and help the body regain strength after the delivery, and the diet is designed to help in milk production.

I took oil bath (head-bath on alternative days) every single day and my stomach was tied with a saree. Stomach tying can be done only if you have a normal delivery. The oil was especially designed to help reduce weight.

Post-Partum Weight Loss - Oil Recipe : 
Half Litre of Gingerly Oil , 2 tbsp of Haldi, and 3 tsp of black jeera seeds were heated on a stove. Then the same was stored in an airtight container. I applied a bowl of this oil every single day before bath. 

The haldi has medicinal properties to improve your skin texture. The black jeera seeds are added to ensure that it cools your body (it is assumed that your body generates heat after delivery esp. with the diet they make you follow after delivery - also the heat generated aids weight loss) and gingerly oil is generally used in my home for oil bath (I am assuming the same mix can be done with whatever other oil you use for your weekly oil bath routine).

Followed by the bath, my stomach was tied with two cotton sarees wrapped as tightly as possible around my waist area - starting from just below the breast till your underwear band. Sorry to be explicit :) This is to ensure that your residual stomach fat from the delivery is shrunk and this band of saree is not removed at all throughout your three months, meaning : if I tie it today morning after bath then - I will remove it to bathe tomorrow morning : and after bath I will again tie the sarees.. Got it?  Nowadays, post partum belts are available as well. I bought a post partum belt from Mee Mee - it was not as convenient or as good as a good old cotton saree that can be tied.  Sometimes, the traditional stuff that has worked for years in India does help. It will be a little uncomfortable initially but you will get used to it within two days. I used an old cotton saree and it worked. I saw my stomach reduce over the course of the first three months after my delivery. And believe me when I say that it was flatter than before pregnancy - of course now I have resumed eating all kinds of junk food and I no longer have the flat tummy that my mom helped me gain after delivery!!


Please note that the diet is designed around improving milk supply for the mom.

Breakfast : Neer Dosa/Methi  Dosa ( 2 in nos) with ghee and jaggery. No chutney(coconut is not given). No sambar (dal in sambar results in gas formation to you as well as the kid). 
Neer Dosa recipe : 1 cup rice soaked for 8 hours, grind. Add salt. Immediately make dosa.
Methi Dosa recipe : 1 cup rice, 1/5 cup methi seeds - soaked. Add salt. Make dosa. 
You understand - dal (even urad dal in case of dosas) is not given to the mother . 

Mid Mrng : Sabudana Paysa. (Sabudana aids milk production) -  boil sabudana with water. Add a little milk and sugar. drink. It doesn taste great - but not only does it aid milk production - it cools down the body in case u end up with constipation due to lack of fruits and veggies in the diet.

Lunch : Rice with pepper rasam, and green leaves palya ( soppu) - pepper rasam is prepared like this : boil water - add pepper powder and a little jaggery. for vagarne/tadka : we add jeera seeds, and garlic in ghee : this is watery crap - but it kinda tastes not tat bad when you eat it with hot rice and ghee. 

Evening : 1 cup of coffee with rusk (2 in nos). That is it.

Dinner : Same as lunch. In case I craved for something else - my mom would fry some more garlic with ghee in a tadka pan - and I used to eat rice - salt, ghee and garlic. 

No curd was given. In place of curd rice = I used to eat milk and rice at the end of every meal. 

I ate the same thing for one month after delivery and I slowly introduced other vegetables to this diet and dal in sambar/rasam for the next two months. And I lost all of the 26 kgs with this diet.

As I said before the diet was designed around milk production : it is assumed that methi seeds, rice, sabudana, pepper and green leaves and garlic aid milk production. Pepper generates heat to the body and makes you burn the residual fat and any residual water retention after the delivery. 


It was an eye-opener even to me that eating Rice (which we people now blame as responsible for weight gain) helped me lose weight and I did not have to resort to the well- marketed Cornflakes/chappati diet in the hope of weight loss. This reiterates what I wrote in the post here . 

What really helped is the portion-control. I had just two dosas for breakfast, two rusks for snacks. Irrespective of how hungry I was or how much of lack of sleep I had experienced. It opened my eyes as to how much more I used to eat on a daily basis assuming that I needed all those extra calories. 

It was a strict regime - no wonder I lost weight. No junk food, no pickle, no extra food - two rusks, two dosas, one cup of rice it was... and one lotta of sabudana paysa. Whether I liked the food or not - that was what I ate.  I realized just how much more junk would get consumed at snack time! 


What I took home from my own Bannantana period is that :

1. Eating the same thing every single day ( or for most days of the week) helps in weight loss.

2. Some form of exercise even if it is just a couple of yoga poses or 10 mins walk is better than nothing.

3. Portion size is very important. I used to eat 6 dosas for breakfast during my pregnancy, 2 dosas after delivery kept me full, your body has a way of adjusting itself to what you give it. So I discovered how much I should eat at each meal. With oversized meals in restaurants, I had forgotten just how much I should eat.

4. Having oil bath every day ( or at least once a week) improves your skin tone.

If I can reduce weight , I believe anyone can ! I wish you all the best of luck in your weight loss journey.
Lastly, I am with you, I still weight 67 kg :) I need to reduce 5 more kg before I reach my own ideal weight. 


  1. Although i do not have the license to eat whatever/howmuchever i want yet (meaning im not preggers yet) that's exactly what i do :). I do realize that i should control my portion size, but lack the discipline..Lemme try it next time i eat.. This is a nice post that boosted my motivation.

    1. Thank you Saranya. I wish you all the best! Over-sized portions of food in restaurants are to blame for our misconceived notions of just how much we need to eat !

  2. Eating what you are culturally used to eat also goes a long way into weight loss and portion control, I tend to binge on Indian food and miss the cue I am full, while I know exactly when to call it a meal on a continental diet because that is what I grew up on and can gauge better. Amazing how deeply connected we are to food.
    I haven't really lost much weight over the years, I gained only 10kg total during my pregnancy, and I lost them very quickly, I have an insulin resistance issue and PCOS that makes loosing weight thougher, so instead of focusing on loosing the weight, I focus on heathy eating, portion control and regular exercise, the result is more energy to get going, more stamina, and a body that is looking far more toned at the default of actually being significantly lighter :) With my insulin resistance one of the key was to balance the protein and carb intake, A sliced apple and a small serving of dahi, or a cube of cheese make a totally manageable small meal that will keep me full long enough and does far less damage to my waistline and blood sugar than a few slice of bread with a choice of spread.

    Restaurants are a huge culprits at sabotageing portion control, I became a huge believer of eating a little of everything over the years, as long as the portions stay reasonable.

    1. Having been brought up to finish the contents of my plate - it is amazing just how our minds work. No matter how much I pile onto my plate - my mind will tell me to finish the contents of the plate irrespective of how hungry I am! Perhaps, with you - having not grown up with Indian food - you are not sure about the quantities of pulao(rice) and hence you binge. I am sure that it is easier to keep count with sandwiches/rotis ... Of course, restaurants and oversized meal portions at work are to blame!

    2. Yep been told to finish my plate as a kid too, so I can't really leave anything on it even after I am full in a restaurant, I eat the whole thing. And right on on the not knowing what a serving of food looks like to be healthy with Indian cuisine, though it is also because since I didn't grow up on it, my brian probably doesn't interpret certain cue based on taste and texture right too.
      That's the reason why I don't think the special K ad is relevant in India, I know people back home who can feel full after a small bowl of cereal for breakfat, adding a fruit on the side, because that is not too far a stretch from the traditional one croissant and coffee breakfast that is so popular back home. In India people are more used to cooked savoury meals for breakfast, so i can totally get were the feeling of being satisifed can't come from a bowl of special K and lead to binge on somthing else to compensate.

  3. Excellent post and very good tips. You look great Navya:)

  4. After pregnancy your look improved a lot Navya.Your face glowing more and more.Keep it up and lose the tummy fat you want to gain the ideal body weight.

  5. hey navya.. first time here! you have a nice blog.. and yes mom's care are always the best.. you look better now after pregnancy. and your son, he is a cutie pie.. enjoy these mother hood days, they grow up in the blink of an eye!

    1. Thank you for your kind words Rasam

  6. hey navya....I am just 18 years old.....but I weigh more than 80 kgs...please suggest me a way to reduce my weight...