We bring to you one of Delhi’s finest Nutritionists And Dietician Avni Kaul in an exclusive conversation with Claus from Sportz Business Insights who shares her knowledge on nutrition and diet by providing some comprehensive insights on how you can follow the right diet and stay healthy and fit all your life. Avni Kaul is a distinguished nutritionist and dieitician in Delhi who has several achievements to her credit. Apart from being a diabetes educator, she holds a good expertize on several subjects pertaining to Weight Management, Sports Nutrition, Child Nutrition, Skin and Beauty Health, Thyroid Disorder and a few more. Ever since she was a school kid, she had developed the interest and enthusiasm for reading magazines, particularly their health and fitness section and had spent time reading various articles and recipes connected to Nutrition. After completing her Masters in Food and Nutrition, she decided to pursue her passion, which was to remain in a profession that could impact the lives of ordinary people every day. She became an entrepreneur and founded the brand “Nutri Activania” in the year 2016 and started offering her services to the residents of Delhi. She had also been the advisor (Nutrition) in the preparatory session for the Buenos Aires 2018 Summer Youth Olympic Games, apart from being an active speaker at various forums on different matters concerning diet, nutrition and prevention from lifestyle diseases.
- Can you let us know a brief background about yourself, including some details on your experience as a nutritionist?
When I was in school, I was interested in reading magazines especially their health and fitness section. I would quickly jump on to Nutrition articles and recipes to go through the content written over there. When it came to selecting a career, I decided to join B.Sc. in Food and Nutrition from Lady Irwin College (University of Delhi). Later, I pursued M. Sc. in the same subject from Institute of Home Economics (University of Delhi). I wanted to do something exciting, challenging and interesting, while at the same time impacting the lives of people. The real purpose was to opt for a profession that can make a difference to people’s lives on a daily basis.
Today Nutri Activania is a well-known brand among the people. As a Nutritionist, I travel both nationally and internationally to speak on matters of diet, nutrition and prevention from lifestyle diseases on various healthcare forums and corporate platforms. In 2018, I was the official Nutrition advisor for the Summer Youth Olympics. Today over thousands of happy individuals testify their successful healthy transformation with Nutri Activania.
My own members (Clients) motivated and pushed me further to start my own practice. I have thoroughly enjoyed my journey and every challenge that came my way. Having no business background didn’t really bother me much. I had the emotional support of my family members and friends. The rest I had learnt everything on the job. I never hesitated to ask questions and always got the solutions. No doubt, it requires extreme discipline, commitment and focus.
When you are in a profession such as being a Nutritionist and Wellness-Coach, one has to deal with several kinds of people who have various challenges of their own. This gives me an opportunity to do something good for them. And if I am able to make some positive changes in their lifestyle, that gives me immense satisfaction. Dealing with patients and their families and helping them through a difficult period has always been extremely satisfying for me. Therefore, in short, I would say that every step in my education has helped me discover my passion towards nutrition and health which has further encouraged me to take it up as a career.
- What was the main trigger behind your decision to become an entrepreneur yourself?
The reason I took the entrepreneurship challenge, leaving aside my comfortable and secure job and starting completely on my own was because I wanted to serve society by educating and promoting “A Good Life.” It is important for people to know that they should not jump to any fads, random weight loss diet or approach dieting as a lifestyle trend. Instead, they should target to sync their mind, body and soul with each other as well as with the surroundings. This is the idea that laid the foundation of Nutri Activania. I wanted to reach out to more people and generate awareness on what healthy eating means. Diet is not about starvation. It is a way of life. However, the path of entrepreneurship was not easy for me, because I started the journey alone. There were no partners and I invested my savings into the business. The journey has taught me so much. It has given me a wider perspective and has broadened my horizon.
I always believed that being an entrepreneur means you are someone who must be able to touch the lives of other people. So, impacting lives of others in a positive manner was the ultimate trigger that made my decision to become an entrepreneur even stronger. Being a nutritionist, I am able to do it, but even more than that, I think that since Nutri Activania has women employees, this is the biggest achievement for me. This organization is an example that proves women are capable of achieving so much.
- How was Nutri Activania born and since how long have you been actively providing your consulting services in the industry? How many clinics do you operate as of today?
The brand name Avni Kaul’s Nutri Activania was considered after a long and deep thought. Nutri has been derived from “Nutrition” Activ from “Activity” and Ania from “Mania”. These 3 words together form Avni Kaul’s Nutri Activania. The idea was to introduce something that is maniac about being active through nutrition. That’s how Avni Kaul’s Nutri Activania came into existence.
The brand Avni Kaul’s Nutri Activania was established in New Delhi in 2016. I have clients all across the globe. We provide offline as well as online services. The Indian diaspora in other countries have been reaching out to Nutritionists of Indian origin, as they feel we can understand their eating habits better. I have a team comprising of 10 members currently. The clinic is at Saket, New Delhi.
- Being a nutritionist yourself, what would be your advice for those individuals who are looking for ways to improve their immunity levels, especially after the outbreak of COVID-19?
Boosting your immunity has virtually become the mantra ever since there has been an outbreak of COVID-19, since there is no medicine or vaccine yet. The best mechanism to fight against COVID-19 is by boosting your immunity along with maintaining social distancing, maintaining good hygiene and wearing facial masks. But one must know immunity takes time to develop. It cannot happen overnight. As a nutritionist, I always encourage people to look for the options that are available naturally. So opting for immunity boosting foods is a great way to start. By including foods such as ginger, garlic, turmeric, basil leaves, vitamin C based fruits such as oranges, lime, papaya, strawberries and also by including vitamin D in your diet in the form of egg yolk, oily fish, mushrooms and fortified food such as cow or soy milk will enable you to boost your immunity at home. Supplements are necessary, if regular diet is not meeting your nutritional requirements. We need to eat everything but in the right quantities and in the right combinations. It’s about including a variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables and achieving balance. The diet needs to be wholesome, nourishing, nutritious, substantial and satiating. One needs to limit the intake of processed food items like chips, namkeen, biscuits and ketchups and consume largely home cooked meals.
- Would you be interested to recommend any product or supplement for consumption by individuals to keep their immunity levels high for the benefit of the readers of our magazine?
During these times, there is a trend started or followed by many. When one talks about immunity, people are trying anything that is suggested to boost it. The home-made ingredients to an extent are good, but when it is about pills or powders, one really has to be very careful, as often they are not aware of what exactly their body needs. As already stated above, especially if one is thinking about taking any kind of supplement or pills, then they need to check with their nutritionist, as immunity often gets affected due to various underlying conditions. One thing that you need to understand is that strong immunity will not happen overnight, even if you have started taking home-based remedies or any kind of pills or powder. Because, there are other factors that contribute to one’s immunity. Those would be considered as a good lifestyle, which includes a good physical workout, proper sleep and also maintaining a healthy diet. Medicines or remedies alone will not work for anyone. As far as advice is concerned, I would like to say that you must get proper knowledge by asking an expert like a nutritionist or dietician pertaining to what exactly you need to eat. Supplements should never be recommended without having a consultation with a qualified nutritionist even if it is for boosting the immunity levels. But post consultation, one can opt for multi-vitamins, vitamin D and C along with fish oils that contain Omega 3.
- Today, obesity has become a major cause for concern that has affected millions of people starting from kids to the older generation individuals across several parts of the globe and the reasons may be many. As a nutritionist, what would be your advice for those individuals who are desperate to lose their weight and excess fat around their stomach?
Obesity is a condition where your body stores excess fat that has a negative impact on health. Genetics, overeating and certain psychological factors are some common reasons for obesity. If one is faced with obesity, begin reduction in the consumption of refined carbohydrates like maida, preferential usage of complex carbohydrates and low glycemic index foods like brown rice, whole wheat, steel cut oats, millets like ragi, bajra, jowar, amaranth), higher intake of fiber like seasonal fruits and vegetables, restricted intake of saturated fats, an optimal ratio of essential fatty acids, decrease trans fatty acids, a little bit higher protein intake, lower intake of salt and limited intake of sugar.
Here are some ways to manage it. Proteins of high biological value include eggs, chicken, fish, soya bean, low fat dairy, dal etc. need to be consumed. Ghee needs to be taken in moderation. Rotation of oils is necessary. Healthy oils include cold pressed mustard oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, canola oil, sesame oil, groundnut oil and soya bean oil. Blend oils too have made an entry into the market. They too can be consumed.
Always remember that whole grains and not processed cereals give the energy to sustain and grow and are also the main source of all-important nutrients. Eat whole grains like Bajra, Ragi, Makka and Jowar regularly. Try brown rice instead of white rice. Use these whole grains for breakfast.
You can have whole dal along with the staple washed dal. You can also go for Chana, Rajma and Soya by either having them as sprouts or cook them for your meal minimum once in every 2 days. When purchasing meat, opt for lean, low-fat cuts. Add a protein in each main meal. Proteins are important for your body.
Non-vegetarian food sources like eggs, chicken and fish are examples of lean meat.
Vegetables and Fruits
Have a minimum of 3 servings of seasonal vegetables per person and 2 whole fruits daily. They offer both soluble and insoluble fiber along with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. One requires about 25 to 30 grams of fiber/day, single apple provides only 1 gram.
Refrain from Trans Fats
If possible, refrain from Trans fats. There is a possibility that Industrial Trans fats might be present in fast food, snacks, fried food and spreads. Check the labels. If there is no label, look for a better alternative.
Restrict Processed Sugar Intake
Restrict the intake of sugar to less than 10% of your total calories. Sugar not only refers to added refined sugar that you put in your tea or coffee only. You can opt for natural alternative like honey, jaggery and stevia. Even with these, one needs to be careful with the quantities.
Do Not Skip Meals
Have 3 balanced major meals. Use a standard dinner plate, fill half with vegetables, 1/3rd with cereals, again 1/3rd with protein and 150 ml of curd or milk.
Restrict the Consumption of Aerated Drinks
Keep your home free of any sugary aerated beverages and processed fruit juices. Instead opt for fresh Jal jeera, Kanji, Chaach, Nimbu pani, Nariyal pani, sattu, kokam, depending upon the seasons. Get your family involved in preparing them.
Restrict sitting for prolonged hours in front of the TV or computer. Never eat while watching TV because you may eat more.
Along with nutritious diet, regular exercise for at least 30 to 45 minutes is necessary to counter obesity. Kids need to be involved in a lot of physical activities.
- Is there any specific product or supplement that you would be interested to recommend for individuals to consume, which could help them lose their weight at a relatively faster rate?
As said above, supplements should never be consumed without having a prior consultation with a qualified nutritionist, whether they are for weight loss or for anything else. Gaining weight has several reasons. It is only after assessment of those factors, one’s diet and lifestyle routine is planned. Protein supplements can be consumed only after assessing the diet and understanding if it is deficient in natural protein food items. Those people, who are into intense exercising, should definitely need to consider whey protein supplements. If they are vegan, they can take soy, pea and hemp. One gains weight due to poor lifestyle, inadequate exercise and lack of daily physical activity. Consumption of junk food items, irregular sleep hours, not being able to manage stress and insufficient water intake are some of the reasons why people gain weight.
- Do you have any favourite healthy snack of yours? If yes, can you let us know about the same and why you like consuming it?
As a nutritionist, I believe that every natural food has vital nutrients and therefore, all are important for our body. So having them in equal quantity is important. However, as far as favourite snack is concerned, there are some that I usually like to have. They are makhana, roasted peanuts, roasted chana, trail mix and nuts. These snacks don’t need any preparation and can be carried at all times. They also have a longer shelf life. Thus, they contain good nutrients.
Besides these are good in calcium, have anti-inflammatory properties, contain minerals like magnesium and nutrients in the form of Vitamin E, folic acid and niacin and not to forget the fiber and healthy fats that they have. All of them help to keep the system healthy and active in a natural way.
- Today, stress is an unavoidable situation that would have to be faced by most of us in life. In such cases, do you feel the food consumed by us can play a role in helping relieve ourselves from stress?
There are several ways to reduce stress and one of them includes your diet. Foods can help you handle stress in various ways. Comfort food like a bowl of warm oatmeal boosts the level of serotonin, a calming brain chemical, while other foods help reduce the level of cortisol and adrenaline. A healthy diet will help counter the effects of stress by raising the immune system up and reducing the blood pressure.
All carbohydrates alert the brain to produce more serotonin. For a smooth supply of this feel-good chemical, it is wise to eat complex carbohydrates, which take longer to digest. Top choices include whole-grain pieces of bread, breakfast cereals and oatmeal. Complex carbohydrates can also help you feel balanced by stabilizing the blood sugar levels.
Oranges are known for its rich source of vitamin C. Vitamin can lower the levels of stress hormones, while boosting the immune system. In a study that was done which had people facing anxiety and stress, they returned to normal faster when they took vitamin C. It also improved their academic performance. You can refer to the link given at the bottom.
If your body is having less than the magnesium that is required, it might trigger headaches and fatigue, thereby further compounding the impact of stress. A cup of spinach helps you stock up on magnesium. If you do not like spinach, you can eat other green leafy vegetables which contain good sources of magnesium.
If you wish to keep stress in check, start eating naturally fatty fish. Omega-3 fatty acids available in fish such as salmon and tuna can prevent a spike in stress hormones and may help protect against heart disease, depression and premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
Pistachios and other nuts and seeds are good sources of healthy fats. Having a handful of pistachios, almonds and walnuts every day could help reduce your cholesterol, ease inflammation in your heart’s arteries, make diabetes less likely to occur and safeguard you against the effects of stress. Do not overindulge in them, because nuts are rich in calories.
Having raw vegetables can help ease stress in a purely mechanical manner. Eating carrot sticks and celery helps release a clenched jaw, which can ward off tension.
Refer Link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26353411
- Would you be willing to let us know about your plans and what you intend to do in your field of expertize in the near future?
The idea to setup Avni Kaul’s Nutri Activania was to help people belonging to all segments of society with a natural remedy that includes nutrition, diet and lifestyle modifications. A diabetic person needs a lot of guidance and support with regard to management of blood sugar levels. A person suffering from thyroid needs nutrition education in order to come within the parameters or management of their thyroid levels. We mainly encourage our members to lead a healthier lifestyle and teach them how to take care of their nutrition. The role of Nutrition is more preventive rather than curative. People have seen amazing results by just improving their diet and including exercise and activity in their daily routines. Their blood reports and body composition has shown significant changes and has also had a healthful impact on their overall health.
Also, from an entrepreneurial point of view, the purpose behind Avni Kaul’s Nutri Activania was to make women more empowered. Nutri Activania is primarily an all women-based organization. So, it is an aim to provide employment and financial independence to more women for the future by recruiting them. I may be the face of Nutri Activania. But all the female employees working here are the pillars. Hence, it is simply much more than expanding financially and the aim will always be to make a positive change in the lives of my employees too. I want to empower more women through my work. They have a lot of potential and I feel that they have a lot to offer in this field especially. A dedicated team of nutritionists work with me. We shall soon be introducing diagnostic tests, hormonal profiles and group exercise training for our members, thereby making it a one-stop shop solution.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as a health advice. We would ask you to consult a qualified professional or medical expert to gain additional knowledge before you choose to consume any product or perform any exercise.