Nutrition & Its Impact On Our Mood
Shwetha Bhatia - woman entrepreneur, nutritionist, sports consultant, wellness guru and fitness athlete, shares her journey of overcoming failure. 
Shweta supports the initiative Failing It Up as she shares some useful insights for people aspiring to make a career in health and nutrition. Shwetha also talks about some challenging cases that she has worked on. 
About Her:
43-year-old Shwetha Bhatia enjoys a long list of laurels- woman entrepreneur, nutritionist, sports consultant,wellness guru and fitness athlete. With more than a decades’ experience backing her lineage, she is one of the few dieticians recognized by the Indian Dietetic Association; Mumbai having only about 200 registered dieticians.

She commenced her entrepreneurial innings in 2008 with the launch of Metamorphosis clinic in Mumbai followed by Gym and Tonic fitness center in Goa in 2015 and Mind Your Fitness clinic in Mumbai and Pune in 2018. All of her boutique ventures are multi-disciplinary and holistic in nature and offer 360-degree services covering facets such as nutrition, training and psychology in entirety.

With mental health being a part of her practice and also having battled with depression for over 7 years (diagnosed in 2014 for the 1st time), in 2020 she launched Talk To Me – an NGO that aims to reach out to municipal hospitals and educational institutes to help generate more awareness surrounding mental health.

Also a regular columnist, she was presented with the Exceptional Women Of Excellence Award 2017 by the Women Economic Forum and the Rising Entrepreneur In Fitness & Wellness Award 2019 by The Indian Dietetic Association, Mumbai Chapter.

A penchant for fitness inspired her to participate in the Indian Body Builders Federation (IBBF) Championship in 2015 where she won the bronze medal in the fitness/bikini category inspite of her being on the 6th month of her antidepressant therapy.

Enjoying a comprehensive knowledge of nutritional sciences, she effortlessly multi tasks between clinical as well as sports performance cases and enjoys global patronage including the likes of Tiger Shroff (actor), Suniel Shetty (actor), Sajid Nadiadwala (film producer) , Avinash Bhosale (industrialist), Rahul Tripathi (cricketer), Vishwajeet Rane (Health Minister Goa), Naba Das (Health Minister Odisha), Priyanka Chaturvedi(Member Of Parliament, Rajya Sabha) amongst others.

She takes up cases involving fat loss, hormonal disorders (diabetes, thyroid, PCOS) , cardiac disorders (includes post cardiac rehab training) , GI tract disorders (includes liver / pancreatic disorders) , renal disorders , neurological disorders, pediatric nutrition,  pregnancy (prenatal and postnatal care, includes training) , sports nutrition for professional as well as recreational sports , strength and conditioning programs (includes rehab) and  more recently COVID 19

With no formal business management background and having been a victim of a troubled childhood and depression, she has painstakingly carved a niche for herself and is looking forward to launching new wellness and fitness centers in India and worldwide over the span of the next 2 years
 Health & Fitness
1. Describe one incident that refined failure for you. Describe the emotions and agony and how you overcame them. Share your learning from the incident. 
This incident would be the gym I started in Goa in 2015. Soon after winning my bodybuilding competitions, I was really keen on starting my own gym. More than wanting a successful gym business, I wanted to create a platform where I could integrate nutrition & training. I failed to achieve those objectives and eventually decided to shut operations after 3 years. I think this was my turning point as it led me to start my organisation Mind Your Fitness where I’m successfully able to integrate nutrition, rehab, training and psychology under one roof!  It helped me identify my strength: CONSULTING! In short, it gave me direction. My learning: I believe every opportunity teaches you something. Besides, it gave me immense credibility as a fitness professional, being one of the very few women to run a gym at that time. It gave me my 1st app endorsement (Mobiefit). It helped me broaden my professional network that serves me to date.
Failure is a harsh word. I call it a temporary roadblock, more a pause than a full stop. I learn what I have to and move on. That’s what makes you grow.
2. Explain how food can impact a person's mood and overall well-being.
 It has a direct and indirect bearing. When you are low and reach out for sugar, it can instantly elevate your mood. But later you feel guilty. If you eat clean most of the time, it t affects your overall wellbeing positively and hence your mood indirectly. I say focus on stabilising rather than instant gratification. You treat your body well and your mind is more in control. The reverse applies too: When your mind is in control, you treat your body well, relying less on instant perk-me-ups.

3. Who is a nutritionist and how can one make a career as a nutritionist?

Nutritionist is a broad term. It can apply to anyone who goes to school to study health and nutrition.

Generally speaking, the role of a DIETITIAN is more regulated than that of a nutritionist. There are certain licenses and certifications a dietitian has to earn to be able to practice (more stringent regulations in the US).
After earning a bachelor’s degree at an accredited university, dietitians typically complete an internship at a hospital. Upon completion, they appear for a national examination by the Indian Dietetic Association. Once they clear that, they are free to practice as an R.D, or registered dietitian.
Dietitians formulate nutrition plans and promote healthy eating habits to prevent and treat illness.

Nutritionists who do certificate courses typically do not have any professional training, and therefore, should not be involved in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases. They can work as nutrition couselors.

A degree (B.Sc/P.G) in nutrition from an accredited university is valid. Then there are also Sports and Clinical Nutritionists catering to athletes and patients separately. A Clinical Nutritionist can do a supplementary course in Sports Nutrition and practice as a Sports Nutritionist; vice versa does not work.

4. What are some of the top places that offer great courses for making a career in nutrition?

In India, we have Mumbai University, SNDT University, Nirmala Niketan, MSU in Vadodara, Symbiosis in Pune, Lady Irwin College in Delhi, Mount Carmel College in Bangalore.
5. Share a typical healthy diet that one can follow from breakfast to dinner (for a normal healthy person). 

  • I generally advocate a low carb diet to maintain health. Indians have high tendency for diabetes.
  • If you choose carbs then I recommend gluten free, pulse or dal based options up to lunch.
  • Avoiding carbs after lunch is recommended.
  • For protein I recommend dairy and non veg foods.
  • Include nuts, green vegetables.
  • Restrict fruit to 1 serving (1 med. or upto 8 medium pieces), preferably taken in the morning.

6. Tell us about the challenging cases that you handle as a nutritionist. Talk about your one such case in brief. 
  • Challenging cases I handle:
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Kidney disorders-dialysis
  • Liver disorders-cirrhosis
  • Pancreatitis
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Autoimmune conditions
  • Recreational athletes training for the Ironman and Ultra Distance Competitions
  • Athletes with medical conditions
  • Covid 19
One challenging case: Childhood obesity
This was a 10 year old obese child who was obsessive about food. I had to formulate a diet that would bring her weight under control, maintaining growth, providing enough energy to study, including her favourite foods with healthy substitutes. We also started weight training exercises for her under supervision. She required psychological counselling. During the course she had to be referred to a psychiatrist and was also diagnosed with a mental health issue. She was on medications. Overall integrating so many modalities for a successful outcome after a year has been one of my most challenging cases.

7. Your advice for aspiring nutritionists. 
  • Believe in yourself.
  • Showcase your work.
  • Focus on your strengths and doing good work.
  • Don’t gauge success solely on your social media presence (blue tick/likes/followers).
  • Don’t judge your credibility based on the number of celebs you have as clients.
  • If you specialise, find your tribe: You are not for everyone!
  • Stay true to your work: Don’t become an entertainer, your job is to educate and heal.
  • Upgrade your skill set from time to time.
  • Don’t compare yourself with others.

Cover image courtesy