It is time to extend the adage “Food for thought” to “Food for Healing” as across many cultures and civilizations food has not only been a source of sustenance but a source of nourishment, prevention and Healing.
In the Indian system of Ayurvedic medicine, food and digestion form the basis of healing. The modern science also reiterates that food can be a cause for certain diseases, while healthy eating can be preventive.
In fact, the best Clinical Dietitian and Wellness Nutritionist in India, Ms. Sreemathy Venkatraman’s vast experience in the field of nutrition and therapeutic dietetics has taught her to address the root cause of any illness including chronic diseases, by providing solutions through Food and Nutrition. Because “I believe Food is the First Medicine,” she says.
Ms. Sreemathy majored in science, with Home Science in senior high school. This sparked her interest in nutrition and food science. After graduating in Nutrition and Clinical Dietetics, she specialized in hospital dietetics with an internship at the reputed CMC, Vellore Hospital.
She also did a Masters’s specialization in ‘Diet in Health & Disease” in the USA. She says, “My Passion is to help patients and clients with their wellness goals and manage their chronic condition effectively with food so they can lead a quality life.”
This passion has inspired her to establish Mitha Aahara- Eat to Live, a leading online and offline Nutrition Consultancy company which is turning three in Aug 2023. The USP of this nutrition-based company is “Healing with Food.” The Tag line Eat to Live says it all — that the Right food can be a nourishment to physical and Mental Health.
At Mitha Aahara, Sreemathy believes in nutritional therapy for various wellness and preventive health conditions and also for chronic diseases like diabetes, obesity, Gut health issues like Gastritis, Irritable bowel Syndrome, Irritable Bowel diseases like Chron’s and Ulcerative colitis.
She informs, “Our specialty is to find the root cause of the problem and ensure that personalized meal plans are given based on the food habits and likes and dislikes of the individual. We have many success stories to our credit -for example we have prevented surgery for a chronic gastritis case, weaned off medicines for a chronic diabetic neuropathy patient on long-term painkillers, helped a young couple lose weight in our couple’s fertility program and also some cases of weight gain in eating disorders to name a few. She also recalls a case with Endometriosis who had significant relief with gut health issues as this condition also affects the gut in some cases. Many suffer from this condition with symptoms like severe pelvic pain, fatigue, infertility.
She adds that everyone is aware that ‘Food and Mood’ are closely connected. “We are what we eat, digest and absorb effectively. Hence healthy Food not only gives us good physical health but also prevents chronic mental conditions like depression, mood disorders, Dementia, and Alzheimer’s in the long run.”
For A Lifetime of Optimal Health
From the start of the fetus’s growth in the womb and the baby’s growing years, the Right Food will ensure optimal health throughout his/her life by providing immunity, preventing non-communicable diseases like diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure and helping in a sound mind with great focus, memory and intelligence. It is vital to breastfeed the baby at least till 6 months of age.
Gut Health is closely connected to the occurrence of many diseases in the body. “Hence it is important to keep our digestive health in order.” Post-COVID, many of us believe in the importance of food in prevention and healing naturally and avoiding medicines where possible.
People are ready to spend their hard-earned money on the right healthy foods, engage in more traditional practices like fasting, fermenting and consuming indigenous local seasonal foods. “We cater to many individuals from varied backgrounds who are used to different food habits and cuisines. Our specialty is to listen to the routine, logistics in food preparation, cravings, the health goals they are striving for and design personalized nutritional therapy which can be followed for life and not for short term effect,” says Ms. Sreemathy.
PCOD occurs in one in five women in India and is a multifaceted condition with infertility, excessive hair growth in the face, upper and lower limbs and obesity or increase in fat mass. Many of the patients under her nutritional therapy have had successful weight loss and restart of the regular menstrual cycle without medications
Eat Well to Feel Well
Ms. Sreemathy reiterates that food plays a major role in healing and that they have clients in more than six countries and many parts of India who have had a great transformation in both physical and mental health.
A personalized Eat Right Plan with weekly monitoring and regular motivation is the right way for sustainable weight loss rather than yo-yo dieting. She adds, “We share recipes, exercise tips, and also help in their food selection which form their daily healthy eating habits. If the individual is a frequent traveler or a person who enjoys eating out with family, we also counsel them regarding choices in different cuisines and the foods that they need to avoid to prevent flare-ups. This also ensures that there is no guesswork when it comes to what is right for their body.
While counseling regarding healthy food habits in teenagers and young adults addressing cravings, understanding their viewpoint, the problems that they go through, and the relationship they have with their food is important and the team at Mitha Aahara have helped many teenagers and young adults with their eating disorders Ms. Sreemathy has specialized in Food & Mental Health from the University of Canterbury, NZ
“We also understand how sensitive gut issues, food intolerance and food allergies have compromised the quality of life for many individuals who are apprehensive about their travel and social engagements like weddings and family gatherings.”
“We have had tremendous success in resolving chronic gut health issues and have made the individuals understand their body better, its triggers for their flare-ups because of the sensitive gut and how to overcome them by monitoring their symptoms like bloating, gas and constipation or diarrhea issues if they eat a sensitive food.” They are also made to understand in what form they would be able to tolerate the same food.
A Curative Leadership
In her 23 years of experience in nutrition and therapeutic dietetics, Ms. Sreemathy has worked in many corporate hospitals with eminent doctors and is a great communicator who understands and speaks several languages. She connects with them at their level, whether it is a child, adult, or senior person, and listens to them patiently regarding their food habits, cravings, likes and dislikes, as Food is something very personal and comforting.
Sreemathy has worked with specialties of gastroenterology, hepatology and liver transplant teams, as also Neurosurgery and neurology teams. She is one of the few Neuro Nutritionists in India who deals with many neurodegenerative diseases like multiple sclerosis and also other chronic neuro conditions like Parkinsons.
Sreemathy is a certified bariatric nutritionist who guides patients in pre and post-bariatric surgery nutrition. She is also a certified nutritionist in critical care who is specialized in tube feeding in complicated cases in ICUs for road traffic accidents, stroke, and many other conditions where the patients cannot take food orally.
She serves on the National Executive Board of IAPEN INDIA, a specialized nutrition organization. (PEN).
Sreemathy has been a visiting lecturer for colleges to teach nutrition to nursing students and volunteers for various community Nutrition programs to prevent malnutrition and non-communicable diseases in the community. She has published several books on Nutrition for international publishing Companies like Reed Elsevier.
She has specialized in Diet in Health and Disease in the USA and has published Nutrition booklets on Neuro Nutrition and recipes for Bariatric surgery patients.
Sreemathy still believes that updating oneself in nutrition is vital and enrolls in specialized courses online to keep herself on the cutting edge in the ever-changing field of clinical nutrition and dietetics.
She is also a dysphagia nutritionist (difficulty in swallowing). She has devised several modified texture diets and serves as a chief program officer for the dysphagia core group and coordinates with other disciplines to effectively manage this hidden disability
Mitha Aahara does not make false promises. It understands the client by addressing their concerns. It sets goals clearly, motivates and periodically monitors, and gives a personalized plan based on clients’ logistics.
If it is a clinical condition, the doctor’s notes, reports, diagnostic tests, and medications are thoroughly reviewed, and specialized therapeutic diets are recommended.
The company has several clients in India and abroad. Sreemathy also counsels them based on local specialty foods, travel, and how to meal prep and customize their food plans.
Sharing her experience, Ms. Sreemathy says she speaks several languages and designs therapeutic food plans which her clients will be happy to follow. She says, “I make them understand their body and do not make any false promises on reversal or cure.” It is a nutritional therapy, and foods, traditional recipes, infusions, daily kitchen spices and herbs are used to heal with the right nutrition.
Also highlighting about the nutritional therapy solutions she provides to her clients, Ms. Sreemathy says that hers are sustainable plans to follow and not any short-term benefits that should be shown and no shortcuts. “As we explain that the body adapts and heals, and food can harm or heal based on the ingredients and the way it is cooked, many are eager to change to healthy eating habits that do not compromise on taste.
In her company’s journey, Ms. Sreemathy faced various obstacles right from the start. The initial challenges post-COVID were venturing online and managing their time as some people weren’t punctual or missed appointments without prior notice and expected short-term results. Sreemathy says, “We are a team of 14, and we have learnt and grown together to effectively cater to the client’s expectations.” People are more comfortable online now and even if they live in the same city, many prefer to connect virtually.
The current challenge is that many clients watch too many online influencers on various social media platforms and assume or come to a conclusion about their own condition or try fad diets or quick fixes which does more harm than good.
To overcome these challenges, Ms. Sreemathy has made her online portal customer-friendly, where clients can make a pre-consultation appointment at their convenience to discuss their specific symptoms and condition and if and how nutritional therapy will help them.
Being an experienced leader, sharing her opinion on how technology is transforming the nutritional and dietary sector and how Mitha Aahara is embracing the change, Ms. Sreemathy says that technology has helped them tremendously as any individual anywhere in the world can meet them online and also communicate effectively and share reports, food logs and food pics for effective monitoring.
The Vital Aspect
When probed about how crucial are nutritional and dietary solutions in today’s health-conscious times and what innovation and advancements she is bringing to the sector, Sreemathy says, ‘Food plays a major role – if not the sole factor – that will make a person healthy or put them at risk for occurrence of chronic diseases. People are very health conscious and rightly so. They understand that food plays a vital role in their skin, hair, looks and the healthy functioning of the body and mind.’
Words for the Wise
In her advice to the aspirants willing to venture into her field, Ms. Sreemathy says that continuous enhancement of one’s knowledge, understanding clients or patients viewpoint, various cuisines and new food products that come to the market, being aware of ethical practice standards, and effective communication is vital to make a mark in this field.
For Your Healthiest Future
On envisioning scaling Mitha Aahara’s scope and plans for the future, Sreemathy divulges that she would like to formulate therapeutic food products for gut health issues, as sound digestion is the key to optimal health. “I would also like to design textured food products for patients with swallowing difficulty,” she concludes.
Sreemathy Venkatraman’s Hall of Fame:
- India’s Top 5 Consultants Ruling the Diet and Nutrition Industry 2023– Swift N Lift Magazine.
- The first place in 10 Most Promising Clinical Nutrition & Dietetics Company–Silicon India Magazine- 2023.
- Golden Awards– For Excellence and Leadership in Healthcare.
- Most Trusted Online Nutritionist in Bangalore-2023- Dynergic Business Solution.
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