Wellness with Dr. Divya L. Selvakumar, PhD, RD
Dr. Divya L. Selvakumar, PhD, RD
Divine Diets, LLC, Your Wellness Sources
Brief Introduction/Tell Us About yourself (where you are from, etc):
Dr. Divya L. Selvakumar is a nutrition specialist, professor, registered dietitian and consultant from California, USA with nearly 18 years of experience in child nutrition, prenatal nutrition, general nutrition, and HIV/AIDS nutrition. Her experiences are noted in international development, academia and global nutrition. Dr. Divya is hold Registered Dietitian licenses in Maryland and the District of Columbia. Divya is also trained in the fields of program management, program development, research, field trainings, and materials/publication design. As part of her international travels, she has lived in Kuwait, India, Tanzania, and in the United States. Divya is currently the founder of a small international charity organization, American Hindu World Service (AHWS), and a budding business, Divine Diets.
Why did you decide to pursue a career in nutrition?
I fell in love with nutrition when I was an undergraduate in nutrition, and learned that most medical problems can be prevented by following a healthy lifestyle, which includes eating healthy and good quality food. It was
How did you become passionate about healthy eating?
Throughout my career, I noticed that the number of patients and clients who are obese and overweight has been growing. This is not just attributed towards poor eating habits, but also the lack of sleep, high amount of stress, and little or no physical activity. I decided to channel my interest towards the plant-based diet.
What kind of training did you undergo/certification you received?
I completed an MPH in Public Health Nutrition and did my PhD in Public Policy and Administration, focusing on International NGOs. My dissertation focused on nutrition knowledge and attitudes of women from the age of 18-49 in two rural villages based in rural northern Ethiopia. I also acquired my Registered Dietitian certification and licenses to practice in Washington, DC and Maryland.
What do people look for in a nutritionist or dietician?
From my experience, people want to meet a dietitian who is not just knowledgeable and experience, but also supportive. Many people are unhappy and desperate about wanting to lose weight. They want an RD who is compassionate, calm, and supportive, but also firm with the recommendations that are provided.
If you could persuade people to change three things about their diet, what would they be?
1) Eat a light breakfast, heavy lunch and light dinner.
2) For snacks, eat fruits in between meals and by themselves.
3) Eat at the exact time every day, 24 hours 7 days a week to maintain consistent schedule for eating.
What would you make as a quick and healthy dinner option, if you have 30 minutes of preparation time?
For dinner, I would make beans combined with onion, garlic, tomato, and spinach. The beans, however, will have to be soaked overnight e.g. black-eyed peas, kidney beans, black beans, etc. I usually like to eat this with warm corn tortillas or rotis (Indian flat bread).
What is your favorite snack?
I like to eat fruits as snacks, but I also like to have a cup of tea with 1 small slice of whole-wheat bread and organic peanut butter.
Plant based living is becoming more and more popular. When eating a mostly plant based / vegetarian diet, are there certain foods to focus on to make sure we’re getting enough nutrients and protein?
I have been a strict vegetarian and borderline vegan for many years. Hence, some of the best plant-based foods to acquire protein are beans, lentils, seitan, tempeh, tofu, spirulina, quinoa, and nuts. These plant protein-based foods have been used for thousands of years, and have just about the same concentration of protein like animal foods.
Speaking of plant based, what are some of the benefits of drinking chlorophyll water / benefits of liquid chlorophyll?
The benefits for chlorophyll water can be attributed towards anti-inflammation, strengthening blood, fighting cancer, weight loss and acting as a natural deodorant. However, chlorophyll supplements are often not regulated. The correct dosage should be given by a licensed doctor or other health professional. One of the best ways to obtain chlorophyll is to take some parsley leaves, spinach or arugula and soak it into water for sometime before drinking.
What’s one of your favorite organic/natural supplements or vitamins you recommended?
I have not really recommended organic or natural supplements, as I first think it is best to change the diet to include the nutrient that needs to be increased. Because many organic and natural supplements are not subjected to regulation, taking supplements can often lead to discomfort, intolerance or in severe cases, allergic reactions.
Any favorite health / nutrition podcasts or books you recommend to our readers?
Occasionally, I listen to podcasts. The one that I like are the Exam Room by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and Highest Self (based upon Ayurveda, the ancient system of integrative medicine originating from India)
1) Eat, Taste, Heal: An Ayurvedic Guidebook and Cookbook for Modern Living by Thomas Yarema, Daniel Rhoda and Chef Johnny Brannigan
2) Ayurvedic Nutrition by Vaidya Atreya Smith