Dr Nandita Shah’s Blog from the 21 Day Program, Sept 2016.

September 13, 2016


I have been writing reports for all our Sept 21 day Health Retreat participants who are now travelling or back home. I am so impressed how some of them have managed, some with travels, others in families that may have been eating in other ways. They are meeting, greeting, sharing.

The maximum weight loss was 11.5 kgs within the 21 days! We had one person who lost 8 kg, 3 who lost 6 kg, 1 who lost 5.1 kg, 7 who lost 4 – 4.6kg, and 3 who lost 3 – 3.3 kg. Others lost between .5 – 2.5 kg. All this with daily buffets and delicious food. It’s no wonder that many are still losing weight. It’s definitely easier to do it without all those buffets!

Although our program would do well as a weight loss program, its actually a health gain program. Weight loss is only a bonus. This time 5 people left free of all medicines! Others were able to reduce some medications depending on their changes, but everyone improved and learnt how to do it right. The maximum reduction in medicines was someone who reduced from 82 units of insulin down to 25 units, AND stopped 8.5  out of 15 tablets per day!

Not everyone is lucky enough to join for a full 21 days, but this is easy enough to do at home if you put your mind to it. SHARAN can help anyone who is ready to do it, to get there. Join us somewhere.

Day 21: Saturday 1.10.2016

Today is our final day here. Although everyone is sad to leave we also celebrating and getting ready to go back. This morning we had our closing session. Surekha Sadana who is a professional artist displayed her 2 paintings done during these 21 days. She gifted these to us! More of her work at www.surekhasadana.com

In the morning closing session, we imagined what it would be like when we meet 5 years from now. How we would have changed! We took group photos.

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During the day we had our final individual consultations. This afternoon we celebrated yet another birthday with yet another delicious cake.

The evening ended with a final celebratory dinner, done by the SwaSwara chefs, an award ceremony, a few more talents highlighted by an energetic lungi dance by the men. We thank all the participants for together making this 21 day retreat memorable.

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Day 20: Friday 30.9.2016

Since we are nearing the end of this retreat, this morning many of us went to try out the jal-neti. Jal neti is a yogic way of cleaning the nasal passages with salinated water.

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Our morning session covered understanding the meaning of test reports, how to continue progress and how to reduce medicines even further when its possible. Disease is a path to personal growth and so it involves changes and can take time.

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The final participant cooking team, Mike’s Angels were on this evening. They too did an incredible job! The last few days we have seen so many creative recipes. It has indeed become a gastronomic festival! The whole meal was amazing and the dessert was the icing on the cake. All our participants now know how to cook healthy and they have had hands on experience of it. Despite our indulgences we are still improving in health because we are sticking to the guidelines

This evening we saw one more film, Home. This film is a beautiful summary of the reserves our planet has, and how we are stretching them. Like our bodies, nature has the capability of healing if we get out of the way!

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Day 19: Thursday 29.9.2016

This morning Capt Joseph arranged another walk to One Tree Hill. Another beautiful day. Another exhilarating walk.

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During the morning session we prepared ourselves to go back home. We discussed how to set up the kitchen and menu planning, so that we are all set once we land home.

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Rose did a South Indian cooking class in the afternoon where we learnt how to make curds again. And then we also learnt how easy it is to make dosa without oil and other South Indian delicacies.

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We ended the evening with a participant talent show with items that our participants had been practicing for a while. Almost all the participants took part in the garba dance so there were few spectators but we all thoroughly enjoyed it.

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Day 18: Wednesday 28.9.2016

Today is the 18th day, and we are doing our 2nd round of lab tests so that we get the reports by Friday in time for final consultations. After the reports there was an aqua aerobics class and then our usual morning sessions.

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As we are gearing up for going home we discussed the possible difficulties to stay on track once we return and the possible solutions this morning.

Some of our results have been amazing. One of our participants is now free of 9 (all) tablets for diabetes, one cholesterol medication, asthma medications and a diuretic. Infact she is only on 2 blood pressure medications and a blood thinner now. She has also lost 6 kg and is very enthusiastic about getting free of all medications soon. We also have one participant who has left his BP and diabetes medications and his statins and has lost around 10 kg. (That’s the highest so far in all our programs!). At the same time we have had a couple of difficulties. One participant has had a severe breakout of rashes. Overall, though our spirits are high.

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This evening we had another participant cooking program and again our spread was amazing! Its a wonder that with all this food and indulgence our blood sugars are still in reasonable control. It gives us the confidence that a healthy life is not one of deprivation and its something we can easily do.

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Day 17: Tuesday 27.6.2016

Some of us started the morning with a walk along the cliffs to the cave and back. That’s quite a long walk! The weather is beautiful now. Others swam,went for yoga or just rested.

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The morning session was about understanding stress and how we can transform. Our thoughts are the cause of stress. We also learnt more about how human exploit animals for food, entertainment and more, and how animals have feelings very similar to our own.

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We had another participant cooking session by the group that called themselves ‘No Frills’. The meal was delicious and so was the presentation.

We ended the evening with a game.

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Day 16: Monday 26.6.2016

Today is the beginning of our last week where we will be preparing everyone for going home. Today we are also doing a juice feasting day – a day when we drink only vegetable juices. Ideally this should be done whenever we reach a plateau in improvement. Although we need fibre and whole foods are best, vegetable juices give the body a high amount of nutrition in a very short time, and without much effort in digestion.

  1. The highlights of our program so far are –
    One participant who perhaps had the highest amount of problems and also the maximum medications, is feeling better and has been able to reduce insulin from 82 units down to 24. While she is still on 61/2 medications, we have stopped 8 medications
  2. One participant has lost 6 kgs
  3. One participant who has Rheumatoid arthritis has much better movements and less pain. Another with Myesthenia Gravis is feeling much better and has much more energy and endurance
  4. Several people are off all medications and are feeling good. Their tests show normal values.
  5. Several people have got rid of the aches and pains which they came with
    Overall people are feeling happier, more positive, calm and confident, more energetic, walking or exercising more than before, getting up earlier than they used to.

This afternoon the chefs did a cooking class and shared some of their recipes.

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We ended the day with the film Peaceful Warrior – a film inspired from the life Dan Millman, a gymnast whose accident that shattered his limb transformed his life. Disease can indeed be a path to personal growth.

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Day 15: Sunday 25.9.2016

Another Sunday and this time most of us decided to go on a long walk in the morning. A large group took off on the cliff walk along the beaches to Gokarna. Although nature was at her best, one could see human litter everywhere. It’s sad that we are destroying our beaches and filling the sea with plastic. Nevertheless the walk was exhilarating and many of us were surprised that we could walk so much.

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The rest of the day we swam, rested, talked, ate and enjoyed the holiday. In the afternoon we had a film “Turn it Around – The Work of Byron Katie” and then we practised affirmations. We also said ‘goodbye’ to Bhavna and ‘welcome’ to Rose with a delicious ice cream by the chefs.

We ended the day with dinner and the movie ‘Superjuice Me’ in preparation for tomorrow when we will all be doing a juice feasting day.

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Day 14: Saturday 24.9.2016

Because of the heavy rains and the anticipation of long walks tomorrow we did not plan a walk this morning. Instead Capt Joseph Pinto taught exercises in the library. As usual the yoga class was full. Everyone is really enjoying the yoga classes here.

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Our morning session was on the environment, the impact of our food and the impact of our consumerism.

It was Ravi’s birthday so we all gathered at 4 to sing happy birthday and to have a piece of the amazing cake raw vegan cake that the chefs had prepared.

Bhavna did her final cooking class  for this retreat and Nandini also joined her and showed one recipe.

We ended the day with the film Cowspiracy – a film about the environmental impact of an animal based diet and why no one is talking about it.

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Day 13: Friday 23.9.2016

We have been having some rainy days which has given us some time to rest or get ready for the talent night. Its harder to swim or go for walks in this weather. Our yoga classes are full and some of us do go for aqua aerobics and swims. Our group has grown very close and are a bit sad that we have only a bit over 1 week more.

Yesterday morning I talked about hormonal issues which have become very common these days. This is because animal products are heavy in hormones and chemical hormone disruptors are everywhere. Nandini then spoke about replacements for these products.

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We had fruit parfait as snacks.

We had another participants cooking, this time by a team who called themselves the Desi Happy Cows. They too went out of their way to make the evening spectacular with an amazing meal. We had handvo as an appetiser,  tomato coriander sorba, with crackers and two salads, then a patriotic tiranga millet pulao, mushroom peas and tofu dish, stuffed potato and baingan and followed by amazing laddos for dessert.

The party ended with the film ‘The Plastic Cow’ which brought us back to reality. The plastic cow is available on You Tube and is a must watch.

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Day 12: Thursday 22.9.2016

Despite the rain this morning, there was a walk up the hill in the forests which ended at a temple. Everyone who went on the walk really enjoyed it!

The morning session with Nandini Gulati was about self love, self talk and connecting with our body and intuition. We also learnt about affirmations. The highlight of the session was when we did kinesiology. The body never lies! Through this we also learnt how harmful our mobiles phones are for our bodies. We also practised how to receive a compliment.

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For lunch we had an amazing millet biriyani!

In the evening Bhavna had another cooking class, this time North Indian food. We also learnt how to make aloo parathas with millets!

We ended the evening with the Louise Hay film, “You can Heal Your Life”. This was about the story of Louise Hay’s own life and how she not only healed herself but became a mentor for so many others.

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Day 11: Wednesday 21.9.2016

Today marks the halfway point in the program! Time does fly. We are happy with the results so far. Even Nikhil, the youngest in our group who is a type 1 diabetic is settling down. After days of hypoglycemic bouts and reactionary highs his blood sugars have settled down and his insulin usage has dropped considerably.

This morning there was a special bird watching walk just within the 26 acres of our resort. We saw many birds and butterflies.

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In the morning session I covered other diseases (since we have already covered diabetes and hypertension) and Nandini covered the psychological aspects of our food cravings. No body wants to be sick but we still do so many things to make ourselves sick! If we can understand our mind we can better take care of our bodies.

This evening, while some people went shopping to Gokarna, our first participant group did the cooking. The group called themselves Magnifeast 7 and they were all 7 men! They wanted to go first to set the bar high and did they! The feast was indeed magnificent! We had delicious drumstick soup, 2 salads, penne arabiata, moussaka and yam and sweet potato ‘fries’ with sauces. All this topped with an amazing ice cream!

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We ended the day with ‘Hungry For Change’ – secrets of the people who have changed their lives by changing their food and psychology.

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Day 10: Tuesday 20.9.2016

This morning Capt Joseph Pinto and the hotel staff took the group for a walk and meditation at the one tree hill. In order to reach that they had to cross the beach. It was a scenic and exhilarating walk. There are so many activities that one has to choose one or another. Since this was a special walk, many participants joined this today.

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Nandini Gulati took the morning session on building healthy habits and the habit of exercise.

Nowadays many of us have fruit meals instead of lunch or dinner. When we eat high quality whole organic foods we feel less hungry and need to eat less and less.

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Bhavna conducted an interactive cooking class on quick packed meals – delicious meals to take to work, which we enjoyed for dinner.

We ended the day with the film Mad Cowboy – the story of Howard Lyman and the politics of dairy.

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Day 9: Monday 19.9.2016

Today was the first day of the 2nd week of this program. This morning we asked the participants what they felt that they had achieved so far. I have tried to categorise the responses of our 33 participants.

18 of them have reduced medications, and some of them quite substantially. For example one diabetic has reduced insulin intake from 46 units down to 19 in just one week!

15 are walking/ swimming more than they were doing before or imagined that they could do
14 energy levels are much higher
12 have lost weight (including 2 who have lost 5 kg or more!)
9 pains are less
6 higher levels of physical endurance
4 sleep better / need of sleep less
3 acidity gone/better
2 better digestion / less constipation
2 hairfall reduced
1 skin better
1 vision better, not blurry
1 UTI gone
1 Flexibility improved

8 more relaxed, less stressed
5 more confidence in themselves
4 more positive
2 Clearer mind, sharper thinking
2 open to changes
1 time management improved
1 opening up, less reserved
1 more control, less mood swings

9 Mindful eating, understanding what our body needs
3 Listening to my body
2 Healthy oil free food can taste so good
1 I can select what is healthy for me
1 yoga has a huge impact on stress
1 its easy to leave tea and coffee
1 how important organic is
1 how harmful dairy is
1 meditation
1 swimming
1 what packaged foods really are

Today we covered reversing diabetes and hypertension and Nandini covered more about the food cycle and talked about millets. Bhavna Kapoor who has joined us conducted a cooking class Low on Grains. Our grain free dinner was just amazing. We ended the day with the film Forks Over Knives

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Day 8: Sunday 18.9.2016

Today, being a Sunday, it was a sort of holiday – a change from our usual. Many of us took a walk to Gokarna, the nearby town. Others stayed back and relaxed or swam.

In the afternoon we had a short session about cooking techniques, after which we broke into groups and planned a menu that each group would cook. It’s a chance to learn how to cook our favourite recipes healthy.

We ended the day with Khow Suey and dance.

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Day 7: Saturday 17.9.2016

This morning we talked about why the food that we eat is making us sick. Capt did a class on how to grow our own microgreens that we can use on our salads and smoothies.

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After 2 days of rain the sun has come out again! Between our sessions, we are swimming and going for walks. Just walking around SwaSwara is a joy. SwaSwara has its own small organic farms and paths from the hills to the beach. We have a full length pool and beautiful cottages. There are 4 water harvesting lakes which add to the beauty of the surroundings. Today we all went to see the micro greens, that were already growing and to plant a few more.

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Today was Madhura’s last cooking class where she showed healthy Mexican food. Our participants are sad to see her go, and she too is sad to leave. We took some last photos together!

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Day 6: Friday 16.9.2016

Capt Joseph Pinto alternates aqua aerobics and walks in the mornings. Despite the rainy weather these past 2 days, these activities are well attended. Many participants are walking much more than they ever thought they could. The beautiful scenery and the good company is conducive.

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This morning I spoke about nutrients. We want to remove the misconception that a whole plant based diet is not sufficient in all nutrients. The only supplements we need are vitamins B12 and D, and supplementation of these 2 vitamins should never be under estimated.

Nandini Gulati spoke on mindful eating. Slowly but surely we are changing our mindset and habits.

Madhura conducted a Thai Cooking class in the evening and we were served a delicious Thai dinner! Since we had cauliflower ‘rice’ the dinner was grain free too. We ended the evening with Amir Khan’s Satyameva Jayate on pesticides in India.




Day 5: Thursday 15.9.2016

Our participants are dropping their medicines as they improve and this, coupled with healthy eating gives them extra energy! Alternate days Captain Joseph Pinto conducts his popular aqua aerobics classes at 6 am, and he always gets many participants! This is a specially good form of exercise for those who have joint pains or are hesitant to go on long walks, or if its too hot. Luckily we have nice weather now! Some of our participants have so much energy that they want to go for all the activities!

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This morning Nandini did a class on the Tao of Eating and hunger awareness. We often eat for the wrong reasons. How can we learn to eat according to hunger? This is the key to losing weight and getting well again.

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Madhura, Nidhi and Nandini joined hands for an awesome Italian cooking class, so we ended the evening with pizzas and more!

Our film this evening was a talk by Victoria Boutenko “Is Raw Food for You?”

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Day 4: Wednesday 14.9.2016

Today is an extra special day. Its Onam and most of the hotel staff are Keralites, and so is our chief motivator, Capt Joseph Pinto. So we had a lot of celebrations, including an amazing, colourful, healthy and super delicious Onam meal served as a Saadhya.

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This morning I discussed why humans were designed to eat a whole plant based diet, and Nandini Gulati followed by talking about loving our body. When we love our body enough, we cannot put in food that is not suitable for it.

The afternoon cooking class was on cheese and meat alternatives, and we made burgers and three different kinds of cheese which we enjoyed for dinner.

After dinner we played the name game – and by the end of it most of us knew everyone’s name! Infact most people commented on the group spirit and how much fun they were having with the others because we are all together with a common goal.

Isn’t it amazing that despite all these delicious buffets our diabetics are seeing their blood sugars fall?

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Day 3: Tuesday 13.9.2016

It’s amazing how good company, a relaxing place, exercise and high quality food helps you get over addictions. Although we have stopped tea and coffee from day 2, only very few people (2) are suffering the withdrawal! We already have several people reducing medications! Since blood sugar and blood pressures are falling we have no option but to reduce these.

This morning we talked about the healing power of our body and how, because of our conditioning, we are actually getting in the way of our own healing. Disease reversal requires a shift in consciousness. Since the way we eat and live causes disease we need to change a lot of things.

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We had a dairy alternative cooking class by Madhura Vayal, assisted by Nidhi Nahata, where we learned how to make plant based milks, curds and butters to use in our recipes.

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We ended the day with a film about Dr Lorraine Day, an orthopedic surgeon who reversed her own breast cancer and now teaches others to do the same. Watch this on You Tube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=99h9O2111mQ

Day 2: Monday 12.9.2016

Today we had an early morning start with laboratory tests followed by yoga, breakfast and an introductory session by all the facilitators followed by setting goals and intentions.

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In the afternoon Madhura did the first cooking class of the program – an oil free cooking class where everyday cooking was done oil free! – Salads, a daal, vegetables, and even Pakoras. Its amazing to see how simple oil free cooking can be.

Participants also joined other activites of their choice – yoga nidra, walks, swimming, yoga and meditation.

After dinner we ended with the film, ‘May I be Frank’ a funny and very authentic story documentary about Frank’s transformation as he stumbles into the aptly- named vegan Café Gratitude, and, over 42 days begins a life-changing journey during which he is coached back to health.

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Day 1: Sunday 11.9.2016

Today was the first day of our Sept 21 day Health Retreat. We have 33 people from India, UK, Kenya, Tanzania, Ireland, Canada, Dubai and France! We are all here at the beautiful SwaSwara, in Goakarna. The meaning of SwaSwara is to listen to oneself. We are taking time out for ourselves, to learn to listen to our bodies and to heal. Our problems encompass a whole range of ailments. The most common are diabetes, hypertension, hypothyroid and obesity, but we have joint pains, digestive disturbances, pains, skin problems, cholesterol, insomnia, headaches, colds, sleep apnea, impotency, and auto immune diseases like type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and myesthenia gravis. Our goal – to get on the journey to sustainable health.

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Today we had arrivals, personal consultations, rest and relaxation and adaptation to a new place and time zone. We were all together for an amazing dinner of Falafel and Middle Eastern dishes, followed by a desert of brownies. We ended day with an session of introductions.