After a three-month break, Alia Bhatt is back in action with three films and prepping for long night shoots with nimbu paani, khichdi
Sanyukta Iyer (MUMBAI MIRROR; June 30, 2017)

Alia Bhatt is candid enough to admit that she’s a far cry from what she looked like two years ago. She’s healthier, happier and still has her fair share of sugar and salt. But the years of feeling bloated and constipated are behind her and today the 24-year-old style icon is happy to bust food fads for young girls. “Trust me, no boy is worth starving for!” she exclaims.

On Wednesday, she spoke to fans across age groups from New York and Dallas to Dubai and parts of Africa, with dietician-nutritionist Rujuta Diwekar, on how to stay fit and fine. She looked radiant despite being up since 3am and attributed it to right snacking, no gaps between meals, regular workouts with walking and cycling thrice a week.

“Everyone’s talking about gluten-free pizza, brown bread and red rice, about reducing their carb intake, and I’m eating white bread and butter at 4am. Rujuta showed me how local food eaten in moderation can be healthy,” she informs.

Alia who has been on a three-month break after her last release, Badrinath Ki Dulhania, in March, has been learning different dance forms and travelling in the interim. She will now return to action with three films in quick succession Meghna Gulzar’s Raazi, alongside Vicky Kaushal, Zoya Akhtar’s Gully Boys opposite Ranveer Singh and Ayan Mukerji’s Dragon with Ranbir Kapoor.

“Her schedule and hours will keep changing. She will have rigorous dance sessions, action shoots and emotionally taxing days. She needs to look fabulous through it all,” points out Rujuta, who shocked the actress by suggesting she add a spoonful of sugar and saffron instead of honey to her daily dose of nimbu paani. “Ever since Rujuta told me that the drink is great for my hair too, I don’t skip it. Not having sugar or salt gave me cramps, it’s harmful to give it up entirely,” she warns, revealing that her sister, Shaheen, who is an insomniac and has low blood pressure tops her food with salt because she craves it. “Eating anything in excess directly affects your health.”

Rujuta explains that sugar is a coolant and an actor needs to cool down their body temperature after rigorous workouts so that they can run the extra mile on the set. So, she has advised Alia to drink lots of lassi and chhaas. The milk is strictly organic and her mother, Soni Razdan, has it delivered in glass bottles as opposed to plastic packs.

“I make my paneer and dahi from that milk too and consume it fresh. It works as a natural fat burner and gives me a good skin tone. It’s my job to look fabulous,” Alia announces, eager to start bingeing on her paneer bhurji waiting for her at home.

Joking that she owes her radiant skin to make-up, she points out that carbs are her best friend when she’s unwell or suffering from acidity. “Dal khichdi and curd rice are my favourites with a spoonful of ghee,” she says, while Rujuta points out that air-frying is a myth and far more harmful than deep-fried food. “But make sure the oil you use is peanut, mustard or coconut,” she insists.

A few weeks ago, Alia took to Instagram to share a picture of herself downing a glass of sugarcane juice. When her Udta Punjab co-star, Kareena Kapoor, spotted this she called Rujuta, who is her nutritionist-dietician, and asked if Alia was on the same diet that she is. Rujuta accented and when the two actresses bumped into each other at a party, Kareena looked at Alia and crooned, “Rujju Rujju”. It was her way of telling the younger actress that she knew her secret. “So now, I do the same with her. We’re going around spreading dietary joy,” Alia laughs.

She insists that actresses are not saints and don’t stay hungry to fit into a bikini. In fact, she shares, that when on a holiday she eats burgers and at weddings relishes rasmalai. “But once I am back, I wrap up dinner at 8:30 pm and sleep for eight-10 hours. I have different diets for when I am travelling and shooting at night,” she says.

Don’t Bollywood celebrities often take off to a certain Austrian spa to “detox”? Alia rubbishes this, saying, “When at a spa, you read, go on hikes, spend time with nature. I love spas but don’t go there to detox and binge. I do everything in moderation,” she emphasises, adding that her stomach can be quite sensitive to climate changes.

Rujuta steps in to explain, “That’s where the concept of ‘Food Miles’ comes into play. The lesser your food travels, the smaller your stomach looks. So Alia’s on a diet of jawar in summer, bajra in winter and nachni and raagi during the monsoons according to the heating and cooling properties of the food.”