My passion for food first began in the kitchen as a child watching my mother prepare traditional South Asian dishes for me and my five siblings. From then on, I’ve always regarded home-cooking as a way to bring families and communities together over food.
Growing up in a big family, scrapes, bruises and the odd few tears were a daily occurrence―as to be expected! I only began to show a real interest in the medicinal side of food after realising my mother’s food cupboard also doubled up as her medicine cabinet. From healing oils such as almond oil, which was massaged into our scalps to condition the hair and relieve head and neck tension, to medicinal spices such as Carom seeds, which were chewed to alleviate upset stomachs, and herbal teas made by simmering fennel seeds to add to my baby brother’s bottle to soothe his colic, my mother was always on hand to quickly whip up a concoction for a whole host of ailments. She drew her knowledge from ancestral healing foods and therapeutic techniques derived from Ayurvedic healthcare and Unani medicine―both traditional healing systems originating from India and Pakistan . I grew up always reaching for a natural remedy before a conventional medicine, and this later fuelled my desire to pursue a career in nutrition and holistic health services.
“Nutrition is not just a science but an art form.“
My journey initially began as a way to improve my own health. Having struggled with PCOS and weight gain for years, my goal was simply to achieve a sense of wellness, after realising conventional health advice wasn’t working for me. I soon started seeing my kitchen in a whole new light, frantically rooting through cupboards ignited with this newfound hunger for food ingredients that could be used medicinally in the same way my mother used them. As I experimented, the real reason why these traditional healing foods and recipes had been used for so long instantly became clear. It was because they worked! I learnt more about my body this way than I ever did in high school biology.
“One diet simply cannot and will not suit all people.“
Today, it seems dieting has become this craze, something driven by trends and celebrities, with one diet going “out” as another diet quickly becomes the new “in,” but what my years as a nutritionist have taught me is that one diet simply cannot fit all. Seeing the rise in serious health conditions, food intolerances and sensitivities, especially amongst young people, shows that a new approach to nutrition and wellness needs to consider tailoring diets to individuals, rather than individuals to diets. This is the fundamental approach I take with my clients. I first consider the individual’s health as a whole, right from birth to present day, looking at both diet and lifestyle choices and the health of biological relatives, to really paint a picture of that person’s health. From this, a tailor-made diet and lifestyle plan can be developed with the individual’s personal health and wellness goals at the very heart of it.
A turning point for me was the passing of my father and mother-in-law, due to a heart attack and cancer respectively. Watching a loved one’s health deteriorate really reinforced the idea to me that wellness is not just physical, but includes mental and emotional health as well. It further ignited my desire to use food to heal and alleviate symptoms in a way that conventional medicine cannot. My daughter’s struggle with anorexia and mental health really opened my eyes to the idea that food and diet has an emotional attachment for many people, evident in my own weight loss journey. Understanding this is key to helping others achieve wellness through nutrition.
The journey has been a long one. The idea of Artisan Nutrition was born from my clients, as I was often suggesting foods and meals that my clients were either unsure of or too unwell to prepare themselves. This led to me running cooking lessons and workshops for both patients and their carers, as well as meal-prepping and sourcing ingredients for clients too unwell to cook themselves. As I watched patients regain their own sense of wellness and independence, I quickly realised the demand for this approach to nutrition in modern day life.
Now, I feel as if I’ve come full circle. Artisan Nutrition, for me, is a place where health and wellness can be celebrated with wholesome foods and nutrition alongside complementary treatments to support health issues holistically, rather than in isolation. Inspired, of course, by my mother and her food cupboard, my aim with the shop is to really go back to the days before fast food, large supermarkets and convenience took over the way people feed themselves. When I was growing up in the 70s and 80s, food was never wasted on the scale that it is today. Everything was either reused or turned into something new, and the shop aims to bring this mentality back to local communities. From using vegetable peelings to make nutritional broths, or crafting reusable shopping bags out of old T-shirts, Artisan Nutrition aims to work in harmony with both the body and environment through a zero waste mentality.
Years in the making, Artisan Nutrition is now ready to open its doors and start promoting wellness. I hope to see you there very soon.
Founder of Artisan Nutrition
“Wellness is something I believe everybody deserves.”