Wondering who I am? And why I became a Nutritionist?

Read on to get to know more about my story and my journey to regain my health through the pathway of functional nutrition.

“You will someday be a diabetic and there’s nothing I can do to help you prevent it,” said my endocrinologist. This was a little over ten years ago. It scared me. I knew that diabetes ran in my family. Throughout my childhood I had seen my grandmother take her insulin shots three times a day. I knew my mother took some pills before every meal. But I didn’t know much more than that.

In general, I believed that I ate healthy traditional home-cooked food most of the time. Yes, I was running myself ragged being a super-mom to my two beautiful children. But I had many friends who sailed in that same boat. This was my life. I didn’t have an active exercise schedule but I never even had time to sit down and enjoy a coffee. Hours spent through crawling through the lanes of Crawford Market searching for new ingredients and party supplies for kids’ birthday parties. Baking and icing 160 cupcakes for the school fete. Hosting fun parties for our friends. Travelling to exotic places and trying out new foods (and wines!). I was on my feet and I was happy. Life was good.

But my health started to fall apart

First came the ‘shakes’ as I like to call them. Any-time dizziness. Shaking hands. Foggy head. Headaches. And fatigue. Soon my stomach turned into a bottomless pit of raging hunger. Food assuaged the symptoms temporarily so I gave in, trying to eat healthy snacks in between meals to keep the ‘shakes’ at bay. The weight gain that has to accompany overeating started to rear its ugly head. My jeans got too snug. And then, as I began trying all sorts of ‘diets’ and supposedly magic foods – they weren’t called superfoods in those years – came the shocker. I shouldn’t have been surprised. Blood sugar rollercoasters. An exhausting OGTT (oral glucose tolerance test) confirmed the suspicion. And I knew something had to be done.

Prediabetes? What’s that now?

I sat in my endocrinologist’s office, awaiting his diagnosis and advice. “Reactive Hypoglycemia,” the doctor labelled it. And for a moment I felt relief. At least all my symptoms weren’t all in my head. And then he said “Prediabetes now. Diabetes in the future.” Prediabetes? What’s that? All I could see were my grandmother’s insulin syringes in my mind’s eye. And I totally freaked out. I did what girls are supposed to do: I went home and I cried. And then I did what my mother’s daughter is supposed to do. I got up, dusted my hands, and said, “No, I won’t. I will find a way to fix this.” As I sit here writing this today, a big shout-out to my mom for teaching me that I can do anything I set my mind do!

Solving the blood sugar puzzle

Thus began the process of figuring out what I was going to do with this diagnosis that apparently had no cure, so to speak. That’s where my foray into learning about food and its power began. Internet search engines became my best friends. Books. By doctors and non-doctors. Research studies that I could barely focus on. Bloggers and chat rooms. I stood on the shoulders of giants. And tried to look over the wall to figure to what was causing all these crazy symptoms in an otherwise healthy me. Was it Chronic Fatigue Syndrome? Did I have a Gluten allergy? Was it my adrenal glands? Something to do with the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis?

As most everyone would, I delved into a bunch of different diets. I tried eating gluten-free. Veganism. Even gave Paleo a shot. Increased physical activity. Eventually I switched to low-carb. That’s when the magic began. One by one, the symptoms started fading. The rabid hunger that had taken a hold of me subsided. My brain fog cleared. My hands stopped shaking. The dizziness went away. And I no longer had to eat to feel better. The weight started coming off. My jeans – yes, the old ones – fit again. I had done it. Over ten years to the prediction today, and I am nowhere near diabetic. I will be eternally grateful to those authors and bloggers who shared their experiences in the public forum.

Indeed, knowledge shared is knowledge squared!

In going through this journey, I found my calling

Today I understand deeply what insulin resistance can do. I know how and why people unwittingly progress from normal to prediabetic to diabetic. And I ‘get’ the feeling of absolute adrenal exhaustion. This is why I completely sympathise with people who are told that it’s either in their head or its their own fault for being overweight. One has to experience that raging hunger to know that there’s no saying ‘No’ to it. But it’s when things go wrong inside the body that the metabolic train takes off on its own to unknown lands.

Madhavi Shilpi photo1

Armed with my own learning and experience, I can help you understand these processes and motivate and guide you to use optimum nutrition to bring that runaway train back to its track. It’s as simple as that.

Get in touch to find out which of my programmes you would fit into. I conduct individual sessions for personalised nutrition coaching. These can range from single consults to year-long nutrition coaching plans. I also moderate group sessions for people working towards a common goal. If you’re an organisation looking to spread awareness of the link between nutrition and health, I can design and conduct talks and workshops on common-interest topics. Sign up for my newsletter so that you can stay updated on upcoming programmes and offers. Or explore the world of nutrition with me on my blog The Refinery.

What health goals are you looking to chase? Can I help?