Meera Bhogal has created her business Meera's Made From Scratch from her experience of finding solutions to her own health problems through diet and a holistic approach. She is also passionate about helping women understand the effects of menopause and how they can transition through this phase in a positive and life affirming way.
When did you start your business?
Meera's Made from Scratch actually started about 3-4 years ago. My friends joked that I couldn’t cook fresh, gluten-free, dairy-free meals in 20-30 minutes and I said, ‘But I do!’ So I started doing live cooking sessions on Instagram, and the business idea grew from there.
Was there a catalyst in starting your business?
I developed my own intolerances and issues with food about 20 years ago. I thought I was eating a brilliant diet (organic, fresh, whole foods) yet I would only get small, short-term improvements with no long-term change. I found that a holistic approach where I changed my whole lifestyle - my exercise regime, the time I spent on the computer, all of it - impacted on how well my body was able to absorb food. There was a 100% improvement.
As the business has grown, I have done more research and connected with more people. I have been able to create a space where people with gluten and dairy intolerances, or issues with their health such as diabetes, gut health or Irritable Bowel Syndrome, have a safe space. They can come to get advice, read blog articles, get support and buy nutritious products they can eat.
I will say, it’s not just what you eat; for example, with someone suffering with IBS, identifying their stress triggers is so important. We would work closely with a nutritionist but also suggest restorative yoga which calms our bodies, allowing our gut to work more easily; it’s very holistic. Food is fundamental, but if we’re eating and it’s not doing us good, we have to address why.
How do you reach out and educate others?
I do a live cooking session once a week through our Facebook Group because people ask things like, ‘How can I add nutrients to a salad? How do I make a dressing?’ I do a lot of recipe creation; I love different tastes, flavours and textures. Recipe creation is a big part of what we do; not just for the products we sell but to give people ideas for what they can cook.
It’s wonderful working with clients and learning so much from each one. I’ve discovered how difficult it is for some people to be in the kitchen, to cook; there can be a real fear of failure. It’s about giving lots of positive encouragement and making people feel more comfortable with food, so that they come to enjoy cooking. My recipes are designed so you can take them and make them your own.
Has COVID impacted your business?
We’ve had to change our business model and become a more flexible, online presence. In terms of clients, we are seeing people are willing to put more time and energy into their health.
Have you always been entrepreneurial?
I think I’ve always been entrepreneurial, but I’m only sharing what I’ve experienced and what I know. Food is central to my whole family; I’m very adventurous with food and naturally put flavours together. Cakes and sweets are my biggest challenge. Our ‘donots’ look like donuts but are made with egg whites, almonds and bananas, covered with our own homemade chocolate. It’s so much better than picking up a donut from a shop.
What is your ethos in respect of your products?
The main focus of our products is that they provide maximum nutrition. Our food has no preservatives, all the ingredients are organic and we only use activated nuts and seeds, a process we do ourselves. So for example if you order our Caveman Wraps for delivery on a Thursday, the process starts the week before. Plus a lot of our foods are grain free.
Our Bone Broth recently won a Great Taste Award; it takes 36 hours to make, to ensure we get maximum nutrients from it. With our products the focus is on wholefoods: plants, vegetables, fruits and protein.
You also produce herbal teas and run programmes for women to help support them in the menopause, how did this happen?
Again, it happened through my own evolution and a holistic approach. The teas and turmeric mixture were where the food products actually started. I didn't realise it at the time but I must have been perimenopausal. I had just turned forty and my joints were stiff, I was suffering with hair loss and anxiety. My yoga teacher recommended I go back to using herbs and spices and I started creating my herbal infusions.
The herbal teas are more about efficacy than taste; I’ve had clients who use our turmeric tea and they have seen a significant change in their mobility and an improvement to the inflammation in their joints. The teas are a foundation of our meals plans and what we do with our clients. They really work and are so healing.
You offer programmes for menopausal women, how do these work?
When I had my own symptoms I started researching and sought help, but there really wasn’t anything. This programme is what I was looking for.
I brought together a team of four or five experts to deliver a package for women wanting to understand the menopause. We’ve had 27 women on the programme and every single one has seen a change in their symptoms and lowered their body fat percentage. They are also so much stronger and doing things they never thought they could do. They are investing in themselves. One of the ladies messaged me this morning, ‘I’ve just done the exercise session with a 10kg weight. I’ve never been able to lift that, ever!’ It’s amazing.
Menopause is a journey from now to whenever, because that’s the phase we are in. We could be living like this for the next 30 years; it doesn’t mean our symptoms will stay the same but it’s about understanding what’s going on with our bodies and what the options are. HRT can help with balancing out the loss of the hormones but all of us will experience symptoms differently. Having the knowledge, being informed, enables you to make choices.
Meera, when you’re not working, how do you spend your free time?
I have two beautiful grown-up daughters; we love spending time together as a family. I love being active and everything that I do within the business. I love my yoga and I love cooking. I love doing what I do!
Check out the website here