A healthy body and mind is the continuous investment by an individual in living by learning through each moment and following a natural, happy, and healthy lifestyle. This learning comes from education. Education, in a sense defined by a very renowned Nutritionist, Afsha Ammar. She says the term ‘education’ encompasses more than just knowledge and knowing. She says, “It is a harmonious blend of academia, arts, sports, emotions, attitudes, creativity, nature and life itself! And in the world we have built today, the one who is adept in all these areas is the one who succeeds.”
She named her online clinic ‘Eponymously.’ A Nutritionist, a Clinical Dietitian, an Entrepreneur, and a mother of two daughters, Nr Afsha, offers online consultations only. She believes that maintaining a healthy lifestyle may be challenging, given the busy lives we all lead. More often than not, ‘eating well’ is thought of as restrictions imposed on our lives rather than consuming in a manner that may bring enrichment and enjoyment. It is here that her role comes into the picture.
Bridging the Divide
With over seven years of experience transforming health for more than 1,000 clients across different continents and time zones, Nr Afsha helps individuals mend the gap between knowing and consuming food healthily. Through a scientific approach, she aids in organizing nutritional lifestyles. Further, she works as a support system for her clients in addressing and solving food issues in every unique circumstance. Thereby bringing them the benefits of the magic of nutrition.
Reminiscing on her school days, she realized the mysterious workings of time and how it seems like her journey as a Clinical Nutritionist began only yesterday. However, it’s interesting to mention that she had never envisioned a future where she would don the coat of a nutritionist. “I was an ordinary girl who was always punctual and sincere about her studies,” she says. Soon after completing her HSc from Jai Hind College, Nr Afsha found herself at a crossroads regarding the course her career would take.
Being born into an Indian Muslim family, many members of her extended family took the liberty to feed her parents the idea of marrying her off.
Fortunately, Nr Afsha’s parents recognized her potential and wanted to see her leave her own mark on society. She recalls, “It was just then that my mom introduced me to the field of Nutrition and Dietetics.” Once she completed her graduation and internship in Food Nutrition and Dietetics, she got married and was soon blessed with a lovely daughter. Time was whizzing past, and Nr Afsha didn’t anticipate where life was taking her. With her parents, husband, siblings, and in-laws supporting her, she was confident enough to commence her journey as a nutritionist.
The Reality Check
Landing her first project worth ₹3,000, she was overwhelmed; that was just the beginning of her growth. Nr Afsha entered the industry by working from a simple home setup and a system of hard work, passion, and dedication. In the first three years, she observed some substantive growth after helping her clients reverse their weight issues, diabetes, cholesterol, PCOS, and other medical conditions. Before she realized it, it was 2021, and her second daughter was already one!
As her children grew, Nr Afsha observed some clinical deficiencies as they exhibited crankiness, exhaustion after sports activities, and other symptoms. She planned a routine check-up for them to get to the root of it. And when the reports came, she was completely stumped. She realized that despite all her efforts to provide them with the healthiest homemade meals, they still lacked nutrition.
It opened her eyes to the fact that if a nutritionist’s child can be deficient in some ways, other parents could be completely unaware of the science of nutrition. It was the point where she understood how essential it is for every parent to know what makes a balanced diet, have scientific data about the foods they consume regularly, and the overall impact they have on their kids, who are the future.
On the Mission of Nourishing a Healthy Society
Nr Afsha claims, “This journey of educating the community and uplifting society, making the old look younger, and the younger look youngest brings me the utmost joy and satisfaction. My profession allows me to give back to society. I hope to continue doing this for the rest of my life.”
Further sharing her inspiration behind venturing into the healthcare sector as a Nutritional and Dietary solutions provider, Nr Afsha says that access to personal nutritionists and dietitians comes at a cost. But why should this service be exclusive to the rich?
Basic nutritional knowledge should be provided even to the poor. So, everyone can make ideal dietary choices starting at home. And reverse existing nutritional disorders and unhealthy practices. This vision and her desire to help people inspired her to partner with her father’s NGO, ‘Pydhonie Welfare Association.’ They are panellists at two esteemed hospitals. Wockhardt and Global Hospital. There they provide free or discounted nutritional support, OPD Consultations, Health check packages, and Discharge bills to many people.
Sharing the USPs that make her stand out as a leading Nutritional and Dietary solutions provider, Nr Afsha says every dietitian on Instagram is on the platform to promote themselves, their plans and packages and build a big business based on it. While “My major focus is on bridging the gap between the rich and poor with a choice of foods that can meet the needs of the poor and help them overcome their deficiency.” In the end, all humans are the same, but it is the socioeconomic factor that creates a difference in society.
Besides being a dietitian and playing a key role at an NGO, Nr Afsha is building her brand of healthy snacks, which will see the light of day at the end of 2023. Snacks have become just as integral to people’s days and lifestyles as their four square meals. She says, “What we choose to snack on can have lasting consequences on our health. Therefore, I want to help people snack healthily and consciously through my products.”
Further, she has drafted a book with nutrition-rich recipes for children. Micronutrients are the stars of said recipes. Besides the rich nourishment, the simplicity and accessibility of the ingredients and methods will profoundly benefit parents of all ages and income levels.
Turning Scepticism into a Trusting Relationship
Highlighting the initial challenges after venturing into the Nutritional and Dietary solutions field, viz-a-viz the challenges now, Nr Afsha says that the biggest challenge is the mindset of the people. In many cases, she had to transform scepticism into trust. This process can vary in length and complexity from person to person. Individuals believe they know what is good for their bodies until their bodies (and minds) tell them otherwise. “Many are initially hesitant to approach a nutritionist. Because we take a magnifying glass to their dietary habits and sometimes recommend complete overhauls, it can be terrifying at the outset. However, once the efficacy of my solutions dawns on them, we establish a trusting relationship,” she adds.
Being an experienced leader, in her opinion, relying on unverified sources to plan diets for children can be dangerous in the long run. Instead, every school should assess their students at least once every six months to check their overall health and physical well-being, performance, etc.
Nr Afsha says that every market is competitive. “My message to aspirants willing to venture into nutrition is:
- Always have scientific reasoning to back every recommendation you make.
- Go for the trusted brands.
- Never suggest shortcuts to clients like herbal hacks, skipping meals, and taking substitutes. These are not sustainable in the long run.
- Always make sure your methods are logical and practical and can be easily implemented.”
Being Healthy in Life’s Gratitude
On envisioning scaling Eponymously’s scope and offerings in the future, she reveals that with time, she plans to build her company with all the facilities under one roof — assessments, blood work, consultation, nutritional counselling, customizable diet plans, and a yoga room. She wishes to cast the net wide enough for clients to obtain comprehensive nutritional solutions.
Finally, in her note of thanks, Nr Afsha would like to express her sincere gratitude to all the readers for trusting her with their health and wellness. “But this dream would not have been possible without the love, care, and support I received from my family.”
She wants to use this moment to thank the Almighty for all the blessings she has been showered with and the lovely family she is blessed with! “My father, Sarfaraz Shamsi, for believing in me more than I did in myself and being my strongest ally. My mom, Reshma Shamsi. She extended her selfless support and unburdened me in other areas of my life so I could focus on my work. My dearest husband Mr Mohammed Ammar Naim, for all the support and late-night discussions to help me execute my ideas the way I wanted. My siblings, Shahbaz Sarfaraz and Ayesha Shamsi, for being my strongest support and motivating me to do better in life every day. My dearest in-laws, Mother-in-law – Mrs Ruby Anwar and Father-in-law – Mr Anwar Naim for being there by my side in every aspect of my life, trusting me, and helping when needed. My team, for all the hard work and efforts they poured into creating an organization to benefit the common people.”
Thanks to Miss Bhagyashree for supporting the cause that Nutritional Assessment is much needed today for the future of our children, and she personally spoke to parents at school for the same.