Across my Table

Across My Table - Shonali Sabherwal

Tuesday, May 13, 2014Me! In words

I first came across Shonali Sabherwal, a Macrobiotic Counsellor, Chef and Author, over a year ago, when she was launching her first book - "The Beauty Diet" and had a demo at the ITC Gardenia. Now, a year later, Shonali was recently back in the city to promote her second book - "The Love Diet", giving her collection of books a touch of being a series - and with good reason.

Shonali Sabherwal hosting a Wellness Afternoon - The Ritz Carlton

A diet or a lifestyle
Anyone who looks at me will laugh at the thought of me contemplating a diet of any sorts, though only I know how much of healthier diet I need to be on. When I first came across Shonali and the concept of Macrobiotics - I honestly did think this was just another diet - but in reality "Macrobiotics is more of a lifestyle than a diet," Shonali asserts. "The word diet perhaps gives it the connotation of being rigid and restrictive, when in fact, its very core principle is about giving you the freedom to eat - in a smart way."

So what is Macrobiotics - The focus of this diet is eating a lot of grains, along with a lot of the local and seasonally available vegetables. Seems easy enough doesn't it. This diet however, completely eliminates dairy and its products - "which for an Indian audience can be really tough to comprehend, but is not impossible" says Shonali. The diet aims at a cleansing of blood and the removal of clogs from years of wrong eating habits.

One thing - Macrobiotic food can be very interesting - A tofu, cherry tomato, basil and balsamic salad

"The good thing about this diet is its flexibility," says Shonali. A lot of diets expect you to get into them cold turkey. Some completely cut out on carb and some others on proteins for periods of time (both of which Shonali asserts are bad moves. Macrobiotics looks at what you want to achieve - do you want to lose weight, do you want the feeling of well-being, are you battling an illness? Based on this a diet regimen is developed for you and a pace set for you to adapt to the diet. "Of course, in the case of an illness, the diet will be stricter," says Shonali.

For others, who are in general well, it is not necessary that you follow the diet to the T. A system of checks and balances however would be essential if you want to benefit from it. Begin small with the system and work your way up.

The Macrobiotic Way
Admittedly Macrobiotics is not easy, but the system definitely seems smarter. "Perhaps a way to help people identify with the diet is to see that it has its principles in the Ayurvedic dictats of diet and the Sattvic style of food, but perhaps not as strict." explains Shonali.

Macrobiotics is about eating right, to open out your energies and have them pulsate through you in the right manner. Dairy and sugar is taken away from you as are flours but these are replaced with products that will assist your digestive process, just as always, except without the negative aspects (yes, milk can work negatively on you, because after a point in life, our bodies are unable to create the necessary means to break down milk).

A soy milk, banana, mango smoothie

Macrobiotics has a few basics - your diet needs to include a fermented foods, starchy vegetables, whole grains, fruits, nuts and grains. Such foods not only work on cleansing your system, but in turn work on your personality and make you a more rounded person. For example

* Whole grains help you maintain your blood sugar levels which is altogether not possible with refined sugars. Whole grains give you a sustained 8 hours of good sugar
* Plant foods owing to their proximity to earth and its energies, give you a sense of grounded-ness
* Fermented foods like tofu give you the digestive enzymes you need and balance your pH levels.
* Legumes of all kinds help break down aminos into dopamine making you energetic

Chickpea salad with bellpeppers and an olive oil dressing

Fig salad

Macrobiotics helps you deal with several lifestyle issues like hair fall, anxiety, the need for weight loss and more. "It even helps deal with cancer," says Shonali, who says that a complete remission is possible in 2 years of following the diet. Though the international medical community is yet to validate this, she does have some cases on hand to prove her point.

Macrobiotics, Shonali asserts, is about creating a template for yourself and working within it to help your body function ideally. And the other great part about it is that this is a diet for the non-vegetarians as well. The emphasis is more on fish that on white meats like chicken.

Tuna fish salad

Seafood salad - octopus, squid and more

Macrobiotics and Love

Shonali's new book "The Love Diet" must not be misconstrued to be a book on how to capture the heart of someone you love. Instead, this is a book about relationships - between friends, colleagues, relatives and even strangers that you come across. Food plays an integral role in determining your demeanor with others.

We all harbor anger to some extent and at times we end up fueling it with an endless supply of caffeine. Why would you want to intentionally fuel these bad feelings with the wrong food - Macrobiotics believes that if you keep fueling things physically, there is no way to purge it from your system.

Many of us face adrenaline fatigue - our lifestyles are so hectic that at the end of the day we lack the energy to enjoy the simple pleasures of life - like human interaction - rather than put in depletors into our diets, why not introduce foods that enhance your vigor - ginseng, cayenne, green chillies can be aphrodisiacs.

The Love Diet is for everyone - all ages - from from teenagers to the more mature.

Who is Shonali Sabherwal?

Shonali is someone you and I will relate to easily - a true blue Punjabi - Shonali enjoyed her coffee and more. And she felt it all the way we feel it today - the lethargy, the fatigue and the irritability. In 1998, Shonali's father contracted cancer and that spurred her to try and find a way to help him cope with the disease. This brought her into contact with the Macrobiotic concept and she trained with Mona Schwartz and at the Kushi Institute.

With time, Shonali has worked towards the bigger picture of being a macrobiotic dietitian. Today, she is a Macrobiotic counsellor and a chef - a rare combination. She has star studded clientele like Hema Malini, Esha Deol, Katrina Kaif, Jacqueline Fernandez, Neha Dhupia, Kabir Bedi, Dalip Tahil and more. She has a catering service, consultation services, ready to eat snacks and conducts cooking classes.

Shonali has two books to her credit now - The Beauty Diet and the Love Diet and is a Macrobiotic Dietician and Chef.

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