A Clinical nutritionist, health columnist & the CEO of NutriAL diet clinic, Alifia Saleh Bhol is a passionate advocate of proper nutrition for all age groups. Currently based in Mumbai, she has been practicing as a Clinical Nutritionist for the past eleven years. She passionately engages in conversation with her patients about busting myths and challenging the harmful trends that have come to dominate online conversations.

Today, people’s desire for instant gratification has led to a decline in the intake of proper nutritious meals. Alifia strives for a more sustainable, simple and traditional approach to tackle that problem. She says that people have taken the kitchen for granted. ‘Our grandparents used to treat it as a pharmacy, where cooking nutritious meals would be the norm in order to maintain robust health. Sadly, nowadays people look for a quickfix in the form of unhealthy processed foods, not realising the long-term repercussions they could have,’ says Alifia.

While being passionate about the importance of wholesome meals, she is flexible in her approach. She takes into account local tastes and prescribes her diet plans according to the local cuisines and customs that are prevalent in any particular region.

Alifiya observes that during the recent lockdown, quite a few harmful eating practices became commonplace and their effects were exacerbated by the overall limitations in mobility and exercise. People were prone to snack more out of sheer boredom and opted for processed food items due to their longer shelf life, thereby compounding the harm caused.

‘I empathise with the fact that because people were working from home, there was a need for continuous snacking. There was this prevailing tendency of getting up from the chair and reaching towards the refrigerator. However, during this period, I would advise that we all remain constantly active, hydrated and opt for healthier snacking options,’ says Alifiya.

One of her more vigorous tasks is raising awareness about the falsity of certain beliefs. For example, people consume flavoured foxnut – a popular munching snack known as ‘Makhana’ in India – not realising that it is an unhealthy alternative to its flavourless and naturally healthy substitute. Some people have the tendency to spend a lot to acquire pink salt thinking it to be healthy when in fact it is not. Alifia says that pseudo-dieticians spread false trends and rumours through online media which can become a liability for their practitioners.

The biggest online trend that she is most concerned with is the growing inclination towards Fad dieting. These diets are typically characterised by intense attempts at weight reduction through short-lived compromises on food intake. These practices, she warns can have long-term negative effects on the body.

Instead, her advice to all her patients is to have whole meals with healthy snacking supplements in the form of chickpeas, groundnuts, dry fruits, plain foxnut and other forms of fibrous foods in-between. She adds that, ‘In order to improve our immunity, Fad diets are an absolute no.’

This World Food Day, we commend her for her many efforts, especially the work she does with malnourished children and at risk mothers, hailing her amongst our inspiring Food Heroes.