The healthy foodie
A yoga instructor goes for the flavor and freshness
By Susan Reilly firstname.lastname@example.org
Pubali Campbell is the director of Bikram Yoga in Manchester. Bikram Yoga is commonly known as hot yoga because the room is heated to 106 degrees for a group workout. Campbell’s studio is drawing attention of those seeking strength, grace and well being. Campbell, who has no formal nutrition training, sat down with me to explain her approach to eating and living well.
What’s in your fridge?
Pretty healthy stuff. Whole wheat wraps, a couple of Sam Adams, sprouts, cottage cheese, fat-free Jello pudding cups and Newman’s marinara.
Have you always eaten healthy?
Yes and no. I have always eaten healthy, but have not always had healthy eating habits. I battled anorexia until living like that just wasn’t an option anymore. I have struggled with body dysphoria, where you see something completely different when you look in the mirror. So I have always been very conscious of what I ate, I was just very generous with the fats and sugars. I never had to care too much about what I ate because I burned it off at the gym.
How often do you grocery shop?
We either dine out or buy what we need for dinner the same day. Typically, I would say 90 percent of our food is fresh, and by that I mean not from the freezer. Also, I perimeter shop.
Yes. I shop the perimeter of the grocery store and rarely venture into the middle where the processed foods are. The perimeter is produce, meats, fish and dairy.
Do you diet?
No. I hate the word diet. I follow an eating plan set up by my trainer, Mary Wiseman. I started the plan while I was pregnant and since the birth of my daughter I have lost the pregnancy weight and have gotten into my skinny jeans in nine weeks without starving myself.
What was the food like in your family growing up?
My mother is a bad eater. She struggles with her weight. She is the type that doesn’t eat all day, and then eats 10 cups of rice at nine o’clock at night.
She only cooks Indian, which means rice. When she comes to my house, I made ciopioanno and served it with a loaf of whole grain bread. At first … she wanted rice, but then I think she really enjoyed it.
My father is diabetic. He taught me the 80/20 rule. If 80 percent of the time you do the right thing, then 20 percent of the time, you can lean back. But I am probably 90/10.
Are you eating differently since the birth of your daughter?
I am doing everything differently since Madeline was born in July. I never used to have to worry about what I ate because I worked out enough and my body would burn it off. My husband and I would eat pasta, casseroles, big pans of enchiladas, lots of cheese and processed sugar. Also, I now only have the very occasional beer or glass of wine.
Now, I have given up processed sugar, foods high in fats and juice. I now eat only whole grains, but I hate brown rice with a passion. Being Indian, we eat a lot of rice. I am used to flavors melding with the rice. I tried to like brown rice, I really did, but there is something about the way flavors sits on the husk of brown rice that I just don’t like. Now, I eat white rice on occasion, but only two tablespoons of it.
So you have expanded your culinary skills?
Yes, the changes have made me expand my culinary skills and get creative. I’m a foodie and am addicted to the Food Network. I am always on epicurious.com and read cookbooks like novels. It has been a challenge though, but I am learning to make new dishes.
Is it tough being a foodie and eating so healthy?
Yes. Some people say that they only eat to live. I live to eat. I love food. There are few things as pleasurable as a fantastic meal in a great restaurant with a fine glass of wine. I still do that, but now I just do that less. To me, it is so sad when I see people who really love food give it up. I think that we all just need to learn a healthy moderation and not completely deprive ourselves of something we love.
What do you eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner?
I try, try to eat breakfast, but honestly, it doesn’t always happen. With a baby and a business to run, I am busy. So I try to at least eat something like a bowl of plain oatmeal with a banana or raisin bran with skim milk. If I am in a real rush, I will have a Cliff bar.
For lunch, I like a sandwich of turkey breast, tomato, lettuce and sprouts on whole grain. If I am being really strict, I will eat only half the bread and never mayonnaise and cheese. Sometimes I have a simple salad with chicken that I may have grilled the day before.
For dinner, my husband and I like soups, stews and chilis, so I make them a lot [see recipe sidebar]. Since a big bowl of lettuce is not very exciting, so I will top it with grilled pork, chicken or fish and other vegetables. Sometimes I make pizza with whole-wheat dough and low fat mozzarella.
What about caffeine?
I drink coffee and diet soda. I drink my coffee with skim milk and Splenda. Not great, I know. But sometimes I like something sweet on my palate and it works for me and gets the job done. I love, love, love flavored creamers but have given them up. We still have them in the fridge, because my husband likes them, but now I have almost completely given them up.
Do you snack?
I try to eat something every few hours. But the reality is that I have a small child and a business and sometimes I look up and it is five o’clock and I realize that I haven’t eaten anything all day.
Do you eat out or order in?
With our lifestyle, and the weird hours I work, we do eat out. But we are careful there too. My husband and I really like Vietnamese food and are big fans of Pho Golden Bowl in Manchester. The food is so healthy low-calorie, low-fat and no sugar — and absolutely delicious.
We also like sushi at Yuki on South Willow Street. But we stay away from Thai and Chinese because there are a lot of added fats.
Some foods may come off as healthy, but if the sandwich leaves a mark across the wrapper, it is not a good sign.
What food mistakes do you see your students make?
Deprivation. I have a bowl of candy in the studio. It is filled with tiny Snickers bars and Starbursts. I get a lot of comments about the candy from my students. They wonder why I would have junk food for them. But I tell them, “You have worked your body hard. If you want a tiny candy bar, have it, it is not going to kill you.”
I believe in balance. If you enjoy something and are not happy without it, it is bad to deprive yourself. It is sad. And feeling angry because you are denying yourself is a mistake.
I don’t like hearing my students say “never again” when it comes to food.
How will you feed your daughter?
She is four months old, so she is not eating yet. But my husband and I have talked about it and feel strongly that everything that we do now, we need to do better for her. So I think we may go totally organic. The environment is completely out of our control. So we are leaning towards eating completely organic for her.
How do you manage sticking to your food plan at parties?
I will eat dinner before I go and load up on shrimp cocktail or the garnish. Yes that’s right, while everyone else is eating cheese and crackers, I will eat the grapes..