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Health In Traditions

Pratibha Shah

Meet Sneh Jaisingh – the young dynamic endearing nutritionist entrepreneurial blogger mom! If you haven’t met her, you must definitely know her from her blog ‘Nutriage: Nutrition for all ages’ where she personally posts nutritional tips and healthy recipes almost every day. That is how I first got to know of Sneh. She was an obvious choice for the next person to interview in my ‘Health in our Traditions’ series. Read on to learn how beautifully this young 30 something integrates all that she has learned from her parents, in-laws and from the nutrition college, for the upkeep of the health of her family.

Coming from a family of physicians – father a general physician and mother a psychologist – it was almost inevitable that Sneh would be influenced by medicine talk early on. But there was something else that was fascinating Sneh a lot more – the aroma and the texture of the herbs, spices and condiments that were routinely being used at this home of modern medicine physicians. Her parents are devout followers of Ayurveda as far as personal health is concerned. These childhood firsthand experiences with holistic healing left deep impressions on Sneh’s young mind.

So it was probably no surprise that against family expectations, Sneh politely refused to go to med college after high school. Aversion to dead bodies and blood did not help matters either. A Bachelors and Masters in another closely related field – Pathology and Microbiology - followed, but Sneh was restless. She felt this was not what she was meant to do. While in her Master’s program, Sneh came across an article in the Times of India talking about the healing powers of food. A light bulb came on. She immediately knew that this was what she wanted to do – heal people, and heal people with the most natural and holistic options possible. She convinced her family and a Masters in Dietetics followed.

Sneh currently lives in Shrewsbury, MA with her husband Ajay and 8 yr old son Gaurav. Let us talk to Sneh and find out what kind of practices keep this family away from ills and pills.

What does health mean to you? “An overall sense of physical and spiritual wellbeing, and striking a balance between current life and ideal goals”, replied Sneh confidently. And she feels that right diet and lifestyle choices are critical in achieving these goals. “Food defines you, your character, everything about you. Even your mind and thoughts are influenced by what you eat.” This confident speech comes from real life experience. Sneh’s mother-in-law was diagnosed with cancer. She went through chemo and radiation but refused surgery. Instead she changed her diet and lifestyle radically and started practicing yoga on a daily basis. She has been in remission since and continues to practice healthy living to date. She even teaches Yoga now.  

Sneh is a big fan of traditional Indian cooking as it allows for blending of foods with a wide array of beneficial herbs and spices in the most palatable way. She loves to experiment with food, often using non-traditional ingredients like kale, quonia, oats, asparagus, flaxseed etc. in traditional recipes. Her favorite spices are ginger, turmeric, fennel and saffron. She’s a big fan of sprouting and sprouts anything and everything that can be sprouted. This includes lentils, grains, almonds, flaxseeds and even fenugreek. Sprouted fenugreek pulao is one of her popular dishes. Juices and smoothies using fresh fruits & vegetables are a mainstay in her house. Having run her own nutrition bar company (called ‘NutriAhaar’) for a few years, she does have some interesting nutritious snack recipes up her sleeve.

How do you maintain harmony in mind and spirit? ‘Ajay, my husband and my childhood buddy is also my spiritual guru. I just follow him’, Sneh said amidst giggles at my widening eyes. Yes, Sneh’s husband and his family’s deep spiritual practices have influenced and inspired Sneh’s own spiritual journey. A software engineer by profession, Ajay is a Reiki Master and stays away from medication. Meditation is a norm in the family. The little one is not bereft of this influence. On a recent trip to FL, Sneh thought he was coming down with a throat infection and wanted to get a backup prescription, but Gaurav insisted that he will do meditation and will be absolutely fine – and he was. I send silent kudos to little Gaurav for being so wise at such a tender age and to the parents for instilling this practice and confidence in him.

What about physical activity and exercise? Sneh does Bikram Yoga regularly, whereas Ajay does more outdoor games, besides regular walks. Gaurav keeps himself active with swimming and taekwondo. The whole family walks and hikes when the weather is warm. Most importantly, the family has been doing fundraising walks for Project Bread and UMass’ walk to cure cancer.

To sum it up, here’s a family that uses their health insurance only for annual physical checkups. It does not surprise me to learn that there have been no major illnesses or hospitalizations in the family nor have they had to use a lot of antibiotics. Sneh and her family exemplify how a working couple can still cook fresh and healthy and lead their child by example into a lifestyle of fitness and eating healthy. Sneh has skillfully crafted her own health bible, blending in her lessons from traditions as well as from nutrition college education, and it seems to be working well.

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1.Health in Traditions April 24, 2012 
2.nutrition n diet April 14, 2012Dr.B. B.Doshi 

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