A macrobiotic dietician, she guides Bollywood’s hottest and fittest celebs on what to eat. Meet Shonali Sabherwal who is redefining the way people eat and cook
Do you want to look like Katrina Kaif? That question may have foxed you, or got you excited, or simply got you curious. Nevertheless, you can’t deny that it surely caught your attention. This is a question Shonali Sabherwal poses, and then goes on to explain, in her book, ‘The Beauty Diet’.
She is India’s only practicing counselor/chef and instructor in Macrobiotics and a celebrity counselor and chef to some of the hottest and fittest Bollywood beauties. Apart from corporate executives, her clientele includes airline-crew, media people, lawyers, bankers, businessmen and struggling mothers looking for good nutrition for their kids. Her Bollywood clients include Hema Malini, Neha Dhupia, Esha Deol, Ahana Deol, Katrina Kaif, Tabu, Shekhar Kapur, Kabir Bedi, to name a few.
“I was very good at academics, as well as sports and was an athlete. Growing up, I ate a lot — meat was on the menu at least four days a week. My mother was the one who fed us, while my father was more health conscious. Being a pilot, he travelled a lot. He was also a voracious reader. In fact, I used to read a lot of books on foods and diets and somewhere along the line, I was hooked,” says Shonali, on how she chose her present profession.
She later went to the US to study market research and stayed and worked there for four years. At that time her focus was on being thin, rather than healthy. “Unfortunately most dieticians concentrate on calories and I was determined to change that. In fact, I was pretty sure that I wanted to change my career track as well.” It was around that time that her father was diagnosed with prostate cancer and she decided to help him recover with non-traditional methods and resources.
This was the beginning of her tryst with macrobiotics. A macrobiotic diet, she maintains, enhances one’s well-being from within. It focuses on changing the blood condition and uses food as a tool to change imbalances in the body and mind. A bit of Internet research helped her find Mona Scheartz, an American who lived in Dehradun. Along with her mother, Shonali trained in the basics of macrobiotics, under Mona. “It was while sitting in Mona’s library and poring over her books that I realised macrobiotics was my true calling.”
Being a Vipassana meditator, she understood the effect of energy, and changes that food can bring about in the body. Although her father gave up the approach in three months due to her limited training, her love for it continued even after he died.
In 2005, she decided to shift her career and pursue macrobiotics. By then she was also diagnosed with a slipped disk. She decided to train professionally and soon was armed with not one, but two degrees. The first one was a Counselor and Chef’s certification from the Kushi Institute in Massachusetts, and the second was a Yoga Pilates certification, from Australia.
Today, Shonali focuses on meridian diagnosis as clients want to know why they are having a problem. “It is very hard to convince people to give up dairy food, but my focus is to scientifically analyse the body’s organs. I then give specific recommendations and since I am also a chef I can translate that into food on your table,” she says.
She claims that her diet has helped people reverse several problems like hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, PCOD, IBS, constipation, diarrhoea, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, diverticular disease, gastritis, gout and even several cancers.
She meets her clients’ needs not only on the health counseling level, but goes beyond that by providing macrobiotic meals, ready-to-eat treats/snacks and recipes, and by conducting cooking classes and helping source products.
She considers herself a one-stop-shop for macrobiotic living — and is soon to launch her own line of retail products of ready-to-eat snacks and treats under her brand name ‘Soulfood’. All of these products are vegetarian (vegan), and free from dairy, gluten, yeast, sugar, and white processed flour, and are non-GMOs. With diet charts, recipes, cooking techniques, illustrations, real-life stories, and celeb experiences, The Beauty Diet redefines the purpose and formulas of eating.