She doesn’t believe in a “one-size-fits-all” approach to nutrition and diet. She empowers her clients with sustainable and holistic wellness practices, and supports them during their journey to their optimal health. Her only focus is to get you to feel your best and look your best, while educating you with what works for your unique bio-individuality, so that you may sustain your optimal health even after you end the nutrition program with her.
Meet Ishika Sachdev – A certified Nutritional Therapy Consultant from the Nutritional Therapy Association of America, who provides effective and stress-free bio-individualised nutritional therapy, through her online platform www.ishikasachdev.com. “Food is my medicine of choice, but what may be medicine for me can be poison for another, which is why it is key to understand your bio-individuality so that you consume only the foods that help you heal and get you to your optimal health”, says Ishika.
Chennai Insider had the opportunity to chat with Ishika, where we discussed all things nutrition and diet. Read on to see what the nutrition expert has to say!
Tell us about yourself. What were you doing prior to you launching your nutrition practice?
I pursued my Bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Management and Finance from Les Roches International School of Hotel Management. I was managing the renowned Tuscana Pizzeria, Chennai, with my father after I graduated. During that time I also started “The Beauty Reel”, an online lifestyle blog and vlog. I started it with the aim to redefine the conventional perception of beauty and generate awareness and interest toward a more wholesome concept of beauty that draws attention to health, wellness and lifestyle. In 2016 I stopped blogging for www.thebeautyreel.com, and began pursuing my education in nutritional therapy.
What inspired you to focus on the field of nutrition?
My inspiration stems from my maternal grandparents- I grew up aware that processed foods are not nourishing, and that our meals should be nutrient-dense. My grandfather was a reflexologist and my grandmother was very much into nutrition and holistic wellness. She would cut out relevant newspaper articles and bookmark nutrition related online posts to discuss with me. So she was the one who really encouraged me to start a lifestyle and wellness blog, as I was not only passionate about health, wellness and beauty, but had relevant knowledge to share. So it started with blogging which slowly extended into a full-time career in nutritional therapy.
According to you, what is health is to beauty?
I genuinely feel beauty, and even health, is about how you feel- mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually, and that’s it. It is most definitely not about how you look- whether it is the color of your skin, or your weight, or your height, or the length of your hair. None of this defines beauty or health. I’ve always had a tummy, and I’ve never had a ‘flat stomach’- does this meal I am unhealthy, or unfit, or not beautiful, or not enough? Most definitely not. I climb mountains, literally, I wake up feeling energized and grateful, I have skin that radiates health even when I don’t wear makeup, and a mind and body that supports my dreams- whether it is strong lungs to go deep sea diving or mental clarity that allows for enriching relationships and productive work hours- now isn’t that healthy?
How has society influenced to think the way we do, about health and fitness?
Our societies and media feed into this ‘fair is lovely’, ‘thin is healthy’, ‘fat is funny’, ‘fit is biceps and a six pack’ nonsense. What is the point of having a muscular body if you cannot bend down and touch your toes or sit cross legged? What is the point of being underweight if you’re going to feel exhausted and sick all the time? I do not intend on shaming fit or underweight people, I am only trying to bring awareness to the fact that health and fitness is more about how we feel and can utilise our physical bodies as opposed to how we look- can we carry big bag of groceries up 2 flights of stairs without straining our backs, can we step into the sunlight without getting a sudden headache? Many of us take a reductionist approach to health and wellness, but this, like everything else, needs to be questioned and challenged. I think only by challenging conventional capitalistic, patriarchal and other ‘norms’, can you grow into the person you truly are or want to be, and this is never comfortable. But I guess being uncomfortable is the only way to grow.
Where is your practice based out of? Why do you think that is the best?
My work is location-independent, which is why my consultation practice is entirely online. In this day and age, I believe nutritional therapy should transcend geographical boundaries. Everything is available at the click of a button, and I don’t see any reason why you cannot have access to a good nutritionist from the haven of your home. If you have any health concern, no matter your age or your food preferences, I can help you help yourself. I offer one-on-one customised nutritional therapy and coaching programs.
What is the most common misconception about consulting a nutritionist?
The most common misconception is that the nutritional program is going to be stressful. I believe if something is stressful, it will not sustain and will eventually come to a halt- be it a diet or a relationship. My nutritional therapy is structured in a manner that ensures your enjoyment as opposed to stress, and my goal is to have it integrated seamlessly into your existing daily routine so that it becomes a way of life. Now that can sustain.
Why would a person use nutritional therapy over doing their research online?
Google is going to show you search results that have the most clicks or views. It is not going to analyse your bio-individuality and draw up a personalized regimen with a plan of action that caters to your unique self. It may tell you how to treat some symptoms, but it is not going to give you a long-term approach to cure the symptoms, and prevent further symptoms or disease. It does not care about you on a human level, and is not there to mentally and emotionally support you as you push out of your comfort zone to reach your optimal health.
A nutritionist, on the other hand, takes the time to follow due process so that you can reach and sustain your optimal health, safely and enjoyably.
What is the food that most people consider healthy but is actually unhealthy?
Milk and Milk Products! The dairy industry funds numerous scientific case studies to prove that dairy is rich in calcium and other minerals, and then funds the government’s pockets to release marketing campaigns in the name of public interest, so that more and more people continue consuming dairy. In the process the public gets unhealthier, the dairy industry gets richer and the government’s pockets fatter. Do your research and you’ll find that Sesame actually has the highest amount of naturally available Calcium in any food, and that you do not really ‘need’ to drink that glass of milk.
Does a nutritional therapy practitioner replace a doctor?
I do not believe that a nutritionists can ever “replace” doctors but I do believe we are the doctors of the future. People who go to doctors are going to treat and cure disease or illness. Why get to that stage, when you can focus on prevention? Did you know, most medical colleges in the world have a very basic course on nutrition- not all doctors and surgeons know much about nutrition because medicine largely adapts a reductionist approach to healing as opposed to a holistic approach. But our human bodies are complex organisms where everything is connected! Our oral health is connected to our digestive systems, our mental health is connected to our gut health and so on, point is that EVERYTHING is connected, which is why when treating any part of the human body we need to approach it as a whole. This, most traditional doctors are not trained to do. Whereas nutritional therapists understand this and work with the client to treat not just the symptom, but the root cause. Since we are what we eat, food plays a huge role in preventing and causing disease. Which is why it is important to work with a nutritionist to ensure you are eating foods that are healing your body as opposed to corrupting it.
Tell us about your practice. Favourite client successes?
I start by analysing my client’s bio-individuality through a set of protocols. This includes an initial interview, a food and mood journal, and a symptom burden analysis (a list of over 350+ symptoms that the client grades from a scale of 0 to 5). I work with the client to create a nutritional program that can be easily adopted keeping in mind the client’s current lifestyle. I do believe disease prevention and management will require lifestyle changes, but I do not believe in completely rehauling the way that person lives. I work to understand the client’s current lifestyle, food preferences, daily habits etc, and then make small changes gradually to fit into what already works for them, so that the nutritional therapy is sustainable and effective. Also, since my clients are from all parts of the world, I really focus on understanding the chemistry of the foods they already eat and then just making that healthier. I also work with them to educate them on how to prepare foods, because for ex- lentils is healthy but many people who eat it bloat after having lentils- here I ensure that they properly prepare the foods by soaking the lentils overnight with water and a little apple cider vinegar and this usually takes care of their post-lentil bloating. The right preparation makes the nutrients in the food more easily available to our bodies to digest and absorb. These are all nothing but ancient sciences blended into the modern way of living.
Speaking of success stories, every client’s success has been humbling and joyful. When a client feels better, that is success. Right from treating cancer survivors with healing and nourishing their bodies post chemotherapy, to women who have been able to increase their lactation, to clients that have achieved their healthy weight; every client that has achieved the health goal we set out to achieve is a huge success for me.
What would you say is the biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge I would say is that people are so misinformed about what is good for them and what isn’t. I encourage people to question everything and to use their critical mind, because everyone is worthy of living their best and most vibrant life, and to do this we cannot live passively and believe everything we are told or read.
Your go-to snack?
Kombucha, dates with nut butter, Hummus with salad sticks and seed crackers, Makhana.
What advice would you give someone who wants to become a nutritionist?
Go for it, you will be doing a huge service to yourself and your community.
What is the plan for the future?
To cater to a wider audience and to continue my personal and professional growth. I am also pursuing a specialisation in plant-based nutritional therapy from Cornell University.
How can readers reach out to you?
Through my website : www.ishikasachdev.com