By Uttara J Malhotra
It’s an uncommon story: a food technologist trains herself to be a life coach and finds simple ways to bring back joy and health to people’s lives. But perhaps it’s not so unlikely, for having worked for years in a multinational food and beverages major in its research and development team, Swatantra Chhabra Kalra really understood food and its dynamics with the human body.
The former corporate honcho – who has worked with PepsiCo, Amway and Dumex in a long, illustrious career – really knows the stuff of packaged food. An expert in developing snack foods, dietary supplements and extruded infant foods, she independently developed the Nutralite Chocolate drink and was also instrumental in developing roasted snacks from rice for Daawat.
Like any other girl with stars in her eyes, Swatantra happily married in 2001. But things weren’t as rosy as she expected and her arranged marriage hit troubled waters making her realise that “life has to be much more about discovering your potential than only getting lost in marriage and the nuances of it.” it.” She has two children, Siddharth who is 15 and Reet who is seven.
Instead, she put her food experience to good use by launching her own brand Truly Natural in 2007, made using natural Indian ingredients. The startup reported skyrocketing sales for the two years she ran it, until she sold the technology because Swatantra felt she could reach out to far more people with her understanding of healing through the correct use of natural ingredients.
When in 2014, she moved to Chennai from Gurgaon, she decided to build the Srishti Wellness Retreat. “Srishti is a sprawling property, where every tree, shrub, and grass was planted with loving hands. It is decorated with natural products, like bamboo, wood and terracotta. It abounds in water bodies, hidden walkways, cozy corners for meditation, vegetable gardens, fruit trees, and comfortable rooms. Srishti is so close to nature that it feels like it has sprouted and grown from the place it is set in,” says Swatantra, whose healing principle is simple: to use the healing power within your body and detoxify with dietary alterations. With programme costs ranging from Rs 7000 to 10000 for a couple with all meals inclusive, the idea is to eat foods grown at Srishti made using organic manure and no artificial pesticides.
Swatantra – whose name translates to ‘independent’—healed her own asthmatic condition with a positive state of mind, changes in dietary patterns and positive affirmations. “If you tell yourself you love yourself, you will actually start seeing and then eliminating things that prevent you from doing exactly that. This is a process of self-healing,” she says.
She uses her childhood habit of positive affirmations through exposure to the spiritual world of Guru Nanak Sahib. Later, reading talks of Wayne Dyer and book of creative visualisation by Shanti Gawain made a huge impact on her mind and became her power source of creating positive connections with the world around.
She adds, “Stress has a huge impact on the immunity and on our happiness quotient as well. The best solutions to combat the effect of stress lie in simple changes in our dietary intake and following the basic rhythm of daily living. If we utilize a rich bounty of foods and flavours around us, we will rid ourselves of lifestyle disorders naturally.”
Swatantra’s personal energy tends to create a positive feeling with anyone who comes in her contact. Till date, she has trained hundreds of people in India and abroad, especially in Dubai and the United States, on how to self-heal via proper dietary and thought-pattern changes, and is soon coming out with a book on the subject. Her name aptly defines the nature of freedom she has nurtured throughout.
Uttara J Malhotra is an ex-journalist who runs her own lifestyle blog and enjoys writing fiction and children’s stories.
First published in eShe’s April 2019 issue