"I've learned to make classic dishes healthier"
Ruchika's weight loss story
Name: Ruchika Dhall
Weight loss: 12kg
How long it took: 4 months
How she did it: 1 on 1 consultations at Myer Castle Hill Lifestyle Centre, NSW, with Coach Nicole Kelshall
Then & Now
Why did you decide to join Weight Watchers?
I gained a lot of weight with my third baby and needed motivation. I’d achieved success with Weight Watchers before – the Program is easy to follow and family-friendly.
"My biggest problem was portion sizes. Coming from an Indian background, the food can be very more-ish. It’s easy to just keep eating!"
What were your food habits like before joining?
My biggest problem was portion sizes. Coming from an Indian background, the food can be very more-ish. It’s easy to just keep eating! I’d have huge servings of rice, curry and bread. Eating and socialising is a huge part of our culture, and although there are five in our family (Ruchika’s husband and their three children, Ria, 9, Ranbir, 6, and Rabhisha, 2) we always cook more than we need.
What were the first healthy changes you made?
I reduced my portion sizes and made all my curries Program-friendly. They still taste great; I just use less oil, cream and butter. In winter I do lots of slow cooking, and make lots of grilled foods and salads during summer.
How did you adapt your traditional recipes?
When I started out, my mum and I would get together and have fun playing around with recipes and coming up with new ideas. We’d say, “Let’s try using stock instead of coconut cream”, or, “What if we used yoghurt instead of butter?” We wrote down the recipes that turned out really well and now I can pass them down to my children. I use lots of herbs and spices – some of my favourites are cumin, coriander seeds and cardamom. Cinnamon is fantastic, too, and I throw a little stick of it into rice to add flavour, or some saffron. Turmeric, red chillies and whole peppers are also good for adding flavour. I have fresh herbs growing in my garden for marinades and love to use garlic, lemon and ginger for skewered chicken. If I’m making butter chicken, these days I use yoghurt with a little sour cream instead of full-fat cream.
Do you eat more fresh fruit and vegetables now?
Definitely. I have two fruit bowls on my bench which are always overflowing. It’s lovely to see beautiful pears, apples and bananas all piled up. When I make curries I’ll use less meat and more vegies. Also, I like to add pumpkin and sweet potato to chicken curry. Even when we eat rice, it’s filled with seasonal vegies.
How did you go about making over your pantry?
When I cleaned out my pantry I got rid of big bags of chips and any deep-fried snacks. I also ditched long-life creams and heavy coconut creams. It was like having a big declutter. It felt so light and fresh after. Next, I focused on revamping the pantry to make it more inviting and well presented. All my spices are now stored in clear, airtight plastic jars. I can see them easily and I know when they need to be restocked. For snacks I have little packets of baked chips, and I store dried fruits and raw nuts in clear jars for the kids. I always have lots of chicken and vegetable stock on hand and plenty of tinned tomatoes for sauces.
"My husband was never a fussy eater but eating in this new way has improved his weight and cholesterol levels."
How has your family reacted to the changes?
My husband was never a fussy eater but eating in this new way has improved his weight and cholesterol levels. He has picked up so many good habits. My kids are also now so happy, healthy and fit. Good health is one of the greatest gifts you can give to your children. I used to think that weight loss meant cooking separately for myself or exercising alone, but we’re much more active now and go for family walks and bike rides. We cook together and give each other feedback about the food. I’m thrilled to say that Weight Watchers has brought me so much closer to my mother, husband and children.
Having a beautiful, well-stocked pantry really motivates me to cook and eat well every day and the food is tastier, fresher and healthier.