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Whole Foods Founder Dr. Ishi Khosla On Mastering The Art Of Clean Eating

She explains the daily dietary intake as smoothly as we spread PB&J. She advocates a change in your eating plan that stays with you for eternity. Say hello to clinical nutritionist, columnist, author, entrepreneur, and founding President of Celiac Society of India, Dr. Ishi Khosla. The force behind many a trimmed waistlines, Dr. Ishi found her calling searching the mirror for a leaner self. “I decided to bring about a change and began studying nutrition as a self-help exercise,” she says. Intrigued by the effects of the diet, the Lady Irwin College alumni took a detour from her initial goal – medicine, and embarked upon a holistic journey.

Author of three books, Dr. Ishi took to writing to communicate with the people, pivoting columns around diets, myths, and tips. Former Head of Nutrition at Escorts Heart Institute and Research Centre (preventive cardiology department), she was prompted to pen Cholesterol Facts when she saw that “heart patients didn’t even know what cholesterol was.”

Her work outside the clinic has often been influenced by her patients and their needs. Be it through books that educate the seekers, TheWeightMonitor, a score-based nutrition app, or Whole Foods, the brand founded to accommodate the lack of health food options. “While I was prescribing certain foods and diets to the patients, there was a barrier to compliance. They couldn’t pick readily available products off the shelves,” and the humble lady took it upon herself to fill the gap. “I wasn’t meant to be an entrepreneur. It just happened,” she says, about Whole Foods which came about in 2001. What started as a two-man army (with her husband pitching in for help) with 20 products and a single outlet, has now grown into a team of 100 with nearly 100 products retailed from 35 outlets.


Observing health food trends in the market, the forward-thinking entrepreneur opines, “The nutrition turf and the allied health industry is booming with turbojet speed, and it is only going to get bigger. Even brands like Pepsi are offering health food.” We concur, for conscious lifestyle changes are the direction of the tide. “When I started out, I had to motivate people towards wellness. Today, people are well-informed. They do their research, implement it, and ask us for additional inputs to further their goals,” says the health practitioner.

Championing the cause of Celiac disease in India, Ishi wrote Is Wheat Killing You after a family member experienced gluten sensitivity. “The idea was to educate people about celiac being a grave condition needing timely diagnosis. It is asymptomatic and atypical, if left undiagnosed it can be fatal,” she reveals about gluten allergies and intolerance that are behind auto-immune problems currently on the rise.

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With many celiac cases coming forth, Dr. Khosla takes us through the alternate grains that can be partaken, “We have a wealth of grains apart from staples like wheat and rice. Moong and chana are pulses that can be ground to be used as flour. Bajra, Jowar, Ragi, and Amaranth are indigenous millets that are a powerhouse of nutrients.” While alternate grains may be a good switch, Ishi emphasises the importance of vegetable and protein intake, “Whether regular or alternate, grains are high in carbohydrates. They are not as important and can be substituted with fruits, rice, etc. 70 percent of the food intake should be plant-based, balanced with 30 percent legumes, pulses, nuts, and seeds.”

Dr. Ishi Khosla’s top tips for using alternate grains:

  • Use alternate grains as flours and turn them into leavened or unleavened breads
  • Make them part of your diet in the form of fermented foods like idli and dosa
  • Try making a meal-in-a-bowl with them like porridge or khichdi

Following diets, managing weight, and measuring nutrients and calories, Dr. Ishi Khosla believes in understanding the basics behind it. Offering a ready reckoner, the nutritionist penned The Diet Doctor. “People are going crazy following diets in an attempt to manage weight, but there is equal amounts of verified knowledge and misinformation out there,” she says sharing what inspired her third book. A strong advocate of “there are no shortcuts to healthy eating”, she believes in a sustainable approach towards food, “Going on diet and off diet is a constant struggle that leads to depression and other ailments. It isn’t a happy situation to be in.” Even as she jets off to Dubai, expanding the realms of her practice, she tells us about yet another venture on the horizon – Dieting Like A Boss. Unveiling what inspired the books, she says, “It will aid time-tied professionals to look at their dietary intake with a fresh pair of eyes.”


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