Sapna Punjabi-Gupta MS, RDN, LD, AP
CULINARY WELLNESS EXPERT, SPEAKER, ENTREPRENEUR
for something nutrishus
Sapna was excited to be part of this series to help show the world the diverse areas of work in our profession. She has a very unique company and I can only imagine the energy along with great smells and flavours that would be present in her workshops. Sapna is humble and passionate as she aims to empower people to nourish and nurture their body, mind and spirit naturally with Western and Ayurvedic methods.
Why did you become a RD?
I have always been curious about food and what we eat and why. When I enrolled for my undergraduate program in Food and Nutrition while I was still in Mumbai (India), I did not realize what I was getting myself into or what being a Registered Dietitian truly meant. I enrolled in the program because it seemed different and it felt RIGHT. Being an RD felt like solving an interesting puzzle of food science, research, culinary skills, counseling, medicine and putting all these pieces strategically together. I am thankful that I chose this path and followed what felt right.
What area of dietetics do you work in?
After 11 years as a Clinical Dietitian, I took a huge leap of faith in 2012 and decided to start my own company, Naivedhya – which means ‘An Offering’. I work in the area of culinary wellness and empower individuals to a vegetarian lifestyle. I conduct cooking workshops, wellness lectures and have my line of heirloom spice blends and spice products.
How would you explain what you do?
I integrate western nutritional science with ancient wisdom of Ayurveda, holistic medicine from India to make it easy and practical for modern living through wellness talks, cooking workshops, blogs and online video tutorials.
What are your ‘typical’ daily/weekly tasks?
I don’t have a typical day at work anymore. I am multitasking many roles on any given day such as:
- Being active on social media posting about different nutrition and food topics and staying current with news topics, food trends and issues.
- Recording video tutorials for my YouTube channel – Naivedhya.by.Sapna
- Planning and prepping for speaking events, trunk shows to showcase my spice products, and private cooking lessons.
- Constantly communicating with people, professionals, and organizations for scheduling various events.
- Traveling to speak and conduct workshops.
- Grinding and preparing my spice products.
- Cooking and testing new recipes.
- Volunteering my time and being active at my kids’ school.
- Volunteering my time in various Dietetic Practice Groups for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
- Spreading the message of vegetarianism, wellness and mindful eating every single day in any way I can.
What has been your career path?
My career began as a Consulting Dietitian with an Endocrinologist in India. I was able to work with patients and was a coordinator for a clinical drug trial. I came to the USA to pursue my graduate studies and became highly motivated to work in the area of neonatal nutrition. I was able to fulfill my goal and worked in a clinical setting and specialized in areas of Women’s health and Neonatal Nutrition practice in a Level 3 neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) in Dallas. Apart from seeing patients, I really enjoyed mentoring dietetic interns and trained many RDs all over the country for advanced practice program in our NICU. I also led many nutrition quality control initiatives for the NICU that resulted in publications.
After more than a decade of extremely fulfilling clinical work, I changed directions to work for myself and created new paths and dreams. I am so thankful each day to have gathered the strength for the decision to have my own company – Naivedhya, where I get to spread the message of vegetarianism, culinary wellness and offer creative ways to put nutritional science in the forefront.
What advanced education or special training do you have?
I have a Masters in Nutrition from Case Western Reserve University, Ohio with special training in Neonatal Nutrition. I worked for 11 years in a hospital as a Clinical Dietitian mostly in the areas of high risk antepartum women and premature infants.
I am also a Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner. Ayurveda is a holistic medicine from India and is being practiced for more than 5000 years. It is globally recognized and accepted by the WHO (World Health Organization). In the United States, it is recognized by the National Institute of Medicine as a Complementary Medicine.
In an ideal world, what does the industry look like 5 years from now?
In an ideal world, in 5 years Dietitians will be a part of every medical practice in the USA and health insurance will cover an annual wellness assessment by an RDN (Registered Dietitian Nutritionist) as part of preventative care. Dietitians will play an important role not only in the clinical settings but also lead in critical global food issues such as sustainable food, food waste, organic farming and more. I would love to see dietetics become a more financially viable career path and Dietitians becoming more assertive with regards to financial negotiations with their employers and demanding competitive compensation like other health experts.
What misinformation about RDs would you like to clear up?
We do more than count calories, read food labels and eat salads all day long.
What are you passionate about in dietetics?
I believe in the power of food and the impact it has on our body, mind and spirit. The field of dietetics has the ability to make sure it can communicate the power and impact of food in a responsible manner to the world.
What is your favourite meal?
A home cooked meal that is well spiced and seasoned with love.
What tip(s) would you give to our readers?
- Follow your passion and your intuition.
- Learn to COOK. It is the greatest gift you can give to yourself and your family.
- Season your food with spices and love. Spices and Love HEALS.
- Set the right intention while cooking and eating your food. Food not only provides nutrition, it nourishes you.
More about Sapna: