Dr.Mani's Blog

What Do You Eat?


A friend of 30 years (and medical school classmate) read my thoughts on “How To Stay Fit” and asked:

“Okay. What do you eat?”

It got me thinking about the kind of food I eat regularly. Because there’s a tight correlation between what you eat and how healthy and fit you are.

I’m sharing these notes, NOT to convince you to follow my diet or eating preferences. You may not want or like to. It’s more as a sort of reference point for the kind of stuff you might wish to put on your “to eat” list.

There are many excellent guides to a healthy diet. You may follow their meal plans, which are tailored for specific types of foods or to your unique preferences and needs.

Some of the best that I’m aware of include:

Ok, Here’s What I Eat

Thanks to a highly irregular and stressful professional career, my eating habits have always been a little strange.

As a trainee doctor, breakfast was typical 2 iddlis (rice cakes), and lunch was 2 egg puffs and a soy milk drink. Dinner was the only solid meal I got to eat, even though it could sometimes be late in the night.

My eating habits became worse as a surgical resident, when I ate what I could – when I could. And during specialist training in heart surgery, I grew accustomed to eating a nice meal once in 2 days (if I was lucky!)

So eating has become, for me, something I do for sustenance. It was done mechanically, more as a habit than for pleasure. That’s why you may not like to model my dietary pattern.

But here it is, anyway.

Healthy diet



In the morning, I drink a small cup of coffee. Made in a coffee filter. Percolated at home. With half a teaspoon of sugar, or more frequently none. Around 25 ml of milk. Almost black.

I’ll usually eat 3 or 4 slices of whole wheat or multigrain bread with fresh sliced cucumbers or tomatoes, and a little salt to taste.

Green Tea

Over the course of the day, I’ll drink between 3 and 5 cups of green tea – ready-to-go sachets dipped in boiling hot water, with a squeeze of fresh lemon. No milk. No sugar.

Mid-morning Snack

If I get hungry around 11’o’clock, a piece or two of peanut candy, or half an orange, come in handy. If in season, it’s mangoes from the tree in our yard. This year, it yielded a rich (and juicy) harvest!


Often this will be a small cup of rice with dhal (lentils), sambhar (a thin vegetable soup) or rasam (pepper-water with digestive spices), along with a little cup of lightly cooked (roasted or stir-fried) vegetable curry.

Evening Snacks

This varies from day to day. It’s also often unhealthier. Favorites are samosas, a croissant, a small bag of baked chips, a tiny muffin, and occasionally half a can of soda.

Post-Workout Snack

On the 4 days a week when I do my weights training routine, after the exercise, I eat the white of a boiled egg – Muffin (our puppy) loves to share the yolk!


Most often, this will be 2 dosas (rice paper) or chapathis (wheat pancakes), with a vegetable-based accompaniment or a veggie/fruit salad.

What to eat

Other Dietary Tips

  • We eat out, on average, twice a month. Burgers, pizza, or Indian breads are my usual choices. Rarely a celebratory dinner will be richer.
  • I don’t drink alcohol (in any form). Nor do I eat non-vegetarian food. I’ve never done either.
  • These days, I try to avoid most deep fried foods, and prefer to eat baked, boiled, poached and steamed food.
  • I don’t add any extra sugar – to anything.
  • Food cooked at home is low in salt content as well.
  • For cooking, we use olive oil almost exclusively (Borges, Extra Light, ideal for Indian dishes).

My total daily calorie count, when I’ve estimated it (rarely), works out to around 1,100 per day. I stopped counting when I realized that it was a “starvation diet” by usual norms (which recommend 2,200 calories daily!)

To Sum It All Up…

So, broadly speaking and in very general terms, these 10 principles guide my diet:

  • Eat fewer calories than you burn off
  • Avoid deep fried food, white bread, egg yolk (all rich in cholesterol)
  • Olive oil seems helpful – and tasty, too
  • Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Regulate and control the snacks you eat
  • Eat at a (more or less) regular time
  • Go light on carbs, and eat more protein (especially if you workout)
  • No extra/added sugar in drinks
  • Green tea and black coffee keep me going
  • Cheat on your diet every now and then – or it gets too boring! 🙂

Recommended Reading

Other information you may like to read about how to eat healthier:

1. Is A Low Carb Diet Always Necessary To Burn Fat?read it now: click here

2. Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease with a Mediterranean Dietread it now: click here

3. Effects of Low-Carbohydrate and Low-Fat Diets: A Randomized Trialread it now: click here

4. Foods That Burn Fatread it now: click here

5. Misleading Myths About Fat Lossread it now: click here

Do you have any tips or advice to share? Please drop a comment and let’s talk.

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