‘Being healthy is NOT a fad’


‘Being healthy is NOT a fad’

An inspiring tête-à-tête with nutritionist and inch-loss expert Rashi Chowdhary

By Aarti Jhurani (aarti@khaleejtimes.com)

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Published: Fri 25 Apr 2014, 11:02 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 10:51 PM

As a young girl, Rashi Chowdhary was petrified she would grow up unhealthy, overweight and obese. She believed it was in her genes, since she had close relatives who were overweight. So, she became over-conscious, keeping a check on everything she ate, falling prey to fad diets, and consuming everything that was labelled ‘fat free’ in a bid to stall her genes from taking over. “I was thin, but very unfit. I had skin and hormonal issues through my teenage years, and it was only when I started practising as a nutritionist, did I realise what a balanced diet is truly all about.”

Now, at 29, Rashi has beautiful skin, hair and a gorgeous body to boot. She made a conscious effort to pursue a career in the field, which was something her parents were very supportive of. Rashi studied food and nutrition for graduate studies. She tried following it up with a Master’s in Glasgow, Scotland, but absolutely hated the course structure, and went to become a Certified Diabetic Educator from a university in Denmark.

She moved to Dubai five years ago from Mumbai, and used to initially attend to all her clients from home. Eventually, a lot of corporates began to approach her, and that is when she decided to set up a practice at the Emirates European Medical Centre. This was in 2012. “I have to say, Dubai has been very generous to me, and I’ll always be grateful for what I’ve got from the city,” she smiles.

So how has she put her knowledge to use in real life? “If I show you the before and after pictures of my parents… you will be shocked! They were both extremely overweight, and now when I see my dad lift weights like a beast in the gym, it pushes me to try harder.”

Rashi takes her fitness regime very seriously. She trains with her trainer at Innerfight; she was recently introduced to cross fit body movements, which she enjoys a lot. “I’ve realised how your workout always needs to be performance-based — it doesn’t matter whe-ther or not you have a six pack… you need to be really fit.” As far as her diet is concerned, she eats clean and stays away from processed food.

We got talking about the fitness craze in Dubai, and she says, “People will do anything to lose weight! They starve, stress, over-train, fast, detox, staple their stomachs and wear gastric sleeves. In fact, I have seen a few cases where the client has tried three to four fad diets, lost weight, and then gained back more weight than before. We need to stop treating ‘being healthy’ as a fad; the weight always comes back with any quick fix. This madness needs to stop, since kids follow in their parents’ footsteps, and it is sad to see so many kids with eating disorders.”

Another thing that really gets to her, Rashi says, are certain myths that people believe to be true. “First, eating anything with fat content in it makes one fat; second, if it is brown or whole grain, it must be healthy; third, foods marked as low calorie, sugar-free, fat-free and diet, are better than their regular counterparts; and that weight loss equals healthy.”

As a nutritionist and inch loss expert, her philosophy is simple. She changes people’s perception about weight loss, fitness and diets. She talks to them about why they want to lose weight, how badly they want to do it, and how their life will change if they were to 
lose the excess baggage they’ve been carrying around for years. “I think when people have strong motivation, it pushes them through tough times in their life. It is hard for a lot of people to stay on track when they’re used to depending on food to feel better, or to feed their emotions — which happens often.” Once her clients realise they can overcome it, and achieve more than they expected from themselves, they get the confidence to be their own health experts.

Rashi’s philosophy and way of dealing with the situation has made her really popular, so much so that she now has clients from all over the world, who regularly keep in touch with her over email and Skype.

Her latest venture, The Protein Bake Shop, takes her point of view one step forward. She understands that sugar addictions can be very challenging, especially with children. She also realises a need for healthy snacks, as the “healthy” options available in supermarkets don’t make the cut.

“People in UAE fear dietary fat — they still believe in counting calories, and rely on processed carbs, believing they are healthy. The Protein Bake Shop goes against most of the mainstream nutrition beliefs. Our products are high in healthy fatty acids, completely free of refined sugar, dairy, and even whole wheat. Gluten-rich grains are replaced with gluten-free flours, and sugar with dates, figs and honey. I am absolutely against sugar-free sweeteners like aspartame, and am completely transparent about the ingredients used,” Rashi points out.

Her bakery’s focus is also to constantly educate and empower consumers in UAE about clean, healthy eating, and get them to believe that staying fit can be a lot more fun than they imagined.

After working hard for the past few years, Rashi is now taking it a bit easy. On her wish-list is attending one music festival every year, meeting more people, taking coffee breaks at the beach close to her clinic, and taking The Protein Bake Shop to the next level.

The Protein Bake Shop

Looking to snack minus the guilt? Here are a few options you can try out!

Goodies at The Protein Bake Shop — like paleo chocolate cake slices, peanut butter slices, almond cookies and protein chocolate mousse (pictured above) — make for great snacks, while controlling glucose and insulin levels in the body. They are high in good fats, which promote hormone health. They do not use wheat, dairy or refined sugar in their snacks, and instead work on substituting them with healthier options like date, figs and honey in place of sugar; gluten-free flours replace gluten-rich grains. They also offer a special Protein Power range, where the carbs in the snacks are kept under 10 grams, and whey protein isolate is added to improve the carb to protein ratio. She aims at making eating clean fun, and not a battle as it can be. You can pick up these snacks either from Down to Earth in Jumeirah 1 in Dubai, or order them online at www.theproteinbakeshop.com

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