Shonali Sabherwal’s approach to detox diet is effortless and straightforward. By Ankita jain
It’s the season of weddings and you have spent a better part of it eating just about everything the dietician asked you not to. Unless you have vast reserves of self-control, binging is inevitable. But you can gently lead your system back to normal by going on a detox diet. “Detoxes are about balancing the body’s pH that is bringing you to being between acid and alkaline, strengthening the gut, helping you with foods to feed the gut microbiota (with good bacteria); therefore slowing down the ageing process. Anything that will do this will help the skin as it is the outward manifestation of your blood condition,” says Mumbai-based Shonali Sabherwal, India’s first certified counsellor, chef and instructor in macrobiotics, who has penned her third book, The Detox Diet.
She started with a meal service, banking on dabbawallas to deliver macrobiotic tiffins, and later ventured into writing. “I think I had it in my genes. I was a voracious reader as a child growing up and was always a story-teller. I wrote for the school and college magazines. I guess if you are passionate about anything in life, writing about it becomes easy. The book just fell into my lap when my editor Milee Ashwarya approached me from Random House; she saw the passion and the way I approached my work.”
But talk to her a little more, dig a little deeper, read her book and you figure she must be doing something right. I mean, she’s fastidious about her “good habits” — won’t eat sugar, won’t touch caffeine, avoids eating out, eats on time.
Shonali’s third book has a foreword written by Jacqueline Fernandez and comprises a number of detox recipes. “Celebrities become our spokespeople, since the audience emulates them; they become our way of getting the word out. The books have a serious undertone about dealing with issues related to health,” she quips.
The root of everything connected to our health lies in the inner ecosystem, she believes. “We are made of micro-organisms — good ones, bad ones and the neutral ones — we need to feed this eco-system. The root cause of low immunity, autoimmune conditions, leaky guts (where the stomach lining gets more permeable allowing toxins to escape) is the result of an ecosystem out of balance. If it gets out of balance, that is the bad pathogens outdo the good ones, we manifest ‘inflammation’ and disease. That’s when a breakdown of cell structure happens, accelerated ageing takes place.”
While some people prefer to do a “fruit cleansing” some others opt for a “vegetable cleansing.” Which one is more effectiveIJ “Everyone is unique and doing a fruit or cooked approach should be based upon what a health practitioner qualified to administer the detox approach feels is suitable for you. You will get superficial results that are temporary if you do a fruit-cleanse or cooked-cleanse. What one needs to follow is a scientific-based approach with clear objectives in place.”
Shonali, a graduate from the Kushi Institute, a leading US based macrobiotic educational centre, says that her tryst with macrobiotics began in 1998 when her father developed cancer and she sought an alternative approach to wellness that would help him cope with the illness. Her first brush with macrobiotics was in 1998. “When my father was diagnosed with prostate cancer, I began looking at alternative methods of living for him,” says this former marketing professional, who, however, admits that she always enjoyed cooking and eating food. “Macro means large and bios means life — so it’s a larger than life approach to food. It’s a science that questions the energy of foods, focussing on foods that make for a good blood condition,” she explains.
On her own experience with this lifestyle she says, “I turned to macrobiotics in my early thirties and it really did help me. I used to have a very high level of candida (yeast infection) in my system because of my non-vegetarian, milk-based diet,” and adds, “Once I got rid of the trigger food, my emotions settled down, I lost 10 kilos, my skin improved and I felt a lot better.”
And the best thing is that Indian food lends itself very easily to the macrobiotic principles of eating, she says. Shonali, whose clients include some of the best known faces of Bollywood including Hema Malini, Katrina Kaif, Esha Deol, Jaqueline Fernandez, Neha Dhupia, Shekhar Kapur and Kabir Bedi, says that following the principles detailed in the book will bring you a calm mind, peaceful disposition and a balanced outlook in life: “It is not a diet, it’s a lifestyle change and you need to be conscious about it,” she says.
She has also written two other books and conducts health workshops and weight-loss camps that teach people to eat better. “You need to look at a person holistically and one size doesn’t fit all,” she says. “You need to develop your own unique eating style that takes into account activity level, need, age and body type.”
Add good quality fermentation in every meal: quick pickles in salt water brine or good quality vinegar (apple cider), rejuvelas (probiotic drink), kanji (probiotic again). Go back to eating traditional, local and seasonal foods