Nimisha Gandhi is a functional medicine nutritionist, certified Ayurvedic counselor, and certified Yoga Nidra teacher. She works mainly with teenage girls and prenatal and postpartum women, focusing on fertility, autoimmune conditions, and rebalancing the gut biome. Nimisha’s approach to mind-body-spirit wellness is deeply influenced by both ancient healing practices and modern medicine.
How did your nutrition journey start?
Food has always been an integral part of my life. I grew up in a household with my grandparents, parents, and brother. My aunts, uncles, and cousins lived nearby, and it seemed like we were having feasts all of the time. Everyone in the family was involved in the cooking process. My dad would get the groceries, my grandfather and uncles would do the chopping prep, and the women would be in the kitchen. The children had small roles, too. On a daily basis, I watched my grandmother cook fresh meals without recipe books, measuring spoons, or any other guides. She was cooking as she was taught how to cook - using her intuition and all five of her senses.
However, it wasn’t until I went away to college that I started to question the role of food in our health. I gained the “freshman 15” and started experiencing issues with my gut and mental health. This was probably because pizzas, pastas, quesadillas, and heavily dressed salads had become my new staples. Luckily, I was at UCLA, which was at the forefront of integrative health research, and there was a lot of focus on nutrition on campus. I started studying the connection between the mind and body and how food could be impacting my own health.
When I decided that I wanted to go into preventive medicine, instead of traditional medical school, I discovered Ayurvedic Medicine. As I learned more and more about alternative healing modalities and the importance these modalities put on gut health, nutritional science just made so much sense.
What do you find the most rewarding and the most challenging about being in charge of your family’s nutrition?
I am very emotionally invested in my family’s nutrition and health. When I was pregnant, I became obsessed with making sure I ate really clean, and I wanted to prevent food allergies in my son. In a way, I think all my health and wellness knowledge stressed me out because I knew too much! I quickly learned that we can only do what we can do, and you have to let the rest go. I think every mom feels responsible to “do it all”. And, if something goes wrong, they feel like they are to blame.
On the flip side, I feel fortunate that I was in nutrition school while I was pregnant and that I was surrounded by very knowledgeable health practitioners. As a result of that education, I am now able to tune into my family’s health issues and come up with beautiful, simple meals that nourish and meet most of our needs.
It’s also a joy to cook with my son and hear him talk about food, farming, and the environment. He sees the connection between the earth and us, and that gives me immense hope for the future.
Of course, there is no magic food that will address all of the nutrition needs of your children, but what are some of your go-tos and why?
My motto is “simple is better“ and “as close to nature and unprocessed is better.“
I try to make sure our plates always have a majority of vegetables and then a portion of sprouted grains, grass-fed/pasture-raised animal or seafood protein, and a good dose of healthy fats.
Breakfast is a bit unusual for us - typically avocado toast, or chia seed pudding. A favorite snack is apple slices with almond butter and a drizzle of local honey, and a perfect dinner is roasted sweet potatoes, broccoli, rice, and salmon.
What role do supplements play in your approach to nutrition?
Supplements are exactly that- supplements to your whole food diet! I always say, “food first.” I try to focus on eating fresh, local, whole foods and then bring in supplements to increase bodily nutrient stores. This is when supplements are absolutely crucial.
I also work with fertility, prenatal, and postnatal women who need the extra nutrients that food alone cannot provide. Therapeutically, supplements can do wonders for health, and we can achieve results much quicker. However, supplements are not a long-term solution for a poor diet or lifestyle.
What are your go-to daily supplements?
Every person has their own bio-individual needs, and these needs shift depending on diet, life events, and general lifestyle. The supplements I find myself using almost daily and recommending the most are Vitamin D3 with Vitamin K2, Magnesium, and DHA + Omegas. I find incredibly hard to get the full daily amount of these nutrients through food alone, and they can do wonders for mood, inflammation, hormones, and digestion. I also like to take NAC to help with stress and keep my immune system healthy.
What dream product do you wish existed, but you can’t seem to find?
An easily absorbed multi-vitamin and multi-mineral, in liquid form, that actually tastes good or doesn’t take like anything! Another much needed supplement is a postnatal supplement addressing the unique and individual needs for each woman.
We are interested in exploring nourishment at the intersection of food, family, community. Can you tell us a story about an especially nourishing meal that you had alone or shared with others?
One of the sweetest meals I’ve had is with my son at his Montessori preschool. Rowan wrote me a note inviting me to join him for lunch in his classroom. He told me to pack a salad because he thought that’s what other moms eat. When I arrived, he had a place setting for me with a cloth napkin, utensils, a plate, and water cup, and he asked one of his good friends to sit with us. We emptied out our lunch containers onto the plates and filled up our water cups. It was very beautiful and adult-ish. Rowan rang the chime to let the children know it was time to eat and beautiful soft music came on. We ate in silence for about 10 minutes and as soon as the last song ended, the classroom erupted in chatter.
It was such a delight to see my son in his classroom environment, eating very civilly with his peers, and engaging in fun conversation. I was filled with bliss!
What books have influenced your personal nutrition education the most?
If only you could see my bookshelf! I have so many, and I am constantly reading new books to help grow my understanding of nutrition. These are just a few of the books that really helped me see the big picture:
The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby & Child Care by Sally Fallon Morell and Dr. Thomas Cowan
Adrenal Thyroid Revolution by Dr. Aviva Romm. MDAyurveda The Science of Self-Healing - Dr. Vasant Lad