Wisdom from a wellness crusader

Wisdom from a wellness crusader

She packs quite a punch, not with just her innovative raw-food recipes, but with her words as well. She does not mince words when she says the calorie theory, based on RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowances), has no scientific basis and is only “recommended”, not advised or essential or compulsory!

“Excessive reliance on medical systems that are based on cure, not care, is what is keeping us from good health,” she declares. A few minutes with her is enough to rattle all the beliefs you held sacred regarding health.
That is Dr Vijaya Venkat for you, nutritionist, health activist and founder of The Health Awareness Centre (THAC) in Mumbai. Vijaya is an Honors graduate in Chemistry with a PG Diploma in Dietetics and Applied Nutrition and holds a double doctorate — one in  Nutritional Science from the College of Life Sciences, USA and the other from Medicinal Alternative International, Denmark.

Her quest for the essence of wellness began with the birth of her daughter, when questions about health, connections between food and disease and related issues started nagging her.  Her journey along the path to discovery has been a long and challenging one. After three decades of extensive research, she could see how food, health, ecology, economy and ethics are interconnected. She set up The Health Awareness Centre (THAC) in 1989 with the sole purpose of motivating and educating people to take charge of their health.

When the sum is more than the parts
“Our health problems are because we have moved from wholesome foods to individual nutrients, complex carbohydrates to simple sugars; and instead of treating the body as a whole we get the body treated in fragments by super specialists. Being but an integral part of infinity, we operate as independent entities and this is the reason for our ecological problems. Our social problems exist because we have become a more individual-centric than a community-centric society,” she explains.
“We can find solutions only when we move away from intellectual arrogance towards intuitive simplicity,” she adds.

Her food philosophy is simple:

* Avoid all foods that come with a label. An apple, a carrot, sprouts, nuts and seeds don’t need a label!
* Avoid the ‘five poisons’ in your diet namely sugar, salt, oil, refined foods and chemicals. Instead, substitute them with wholesome natural ingredients like fresh, local, organic, fruits and vegetables and sprouts.

Towards nutrition re-education
THAC promotes the fundamentals of health care through its activities, which are based on the belief that health is the result of living life according to the laws of nature. THAC conducts ‘Nutrition Re-education’ classes to educate people about the connections between individual choices and environment and the role of correct foods.

THAC also provides personal health counselling and provides customised organic meal dabbas to clients, helping them sustain their new healthy diets.
Today, THAC is two decades old but Vijaya’s zeal for her work is as good as new. Her passion for promoting wellness concepts among one and all continues to power more projects, taking THAC along newer avenues of growth.

One such venture is the setting up of Vangani farms, on the outskirts of Mumbai. What was a barren two-acre plot with large crevices 14 years ago is now a ‘green belt’ with a variety of plant species.  
In addition to this, THAC caters to the nutritional needs of many children in the villages around Vangani, which has resulted in healthier kids, better attendance at school due to fewer illnesses! 

What keeps the 73-year old wellness crusader tirelessly walking along the chosen path? “If you want to live in peace, you have to give back peace to Mother Earth,” she says. We couldn’t have said it better.

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