In conversation with Ms. Hala AlKhaldi, Dietician and MD, Diet Delight
The statement, ‘I am on a diet’ gets new meaning when you are at Diet Delight, founded by Hala AlKhaldi. A dietician by profession, she grew up watching people around her trying to manage weight obsessively through stereotypical diet methods. It was her ambition to cook healthy and still achieve that great taste that led to the opening of Diet Delight in 2011. The BTW team catches up with Hala at her office in Zinj where she shares the secret to eating great and losing weight.
What is your definition of a healthy diet?
For me a healthy diet is not about not eating food that indulges your taste buds. It is about pampering your taste buds the healthy way. You can eat a piece of your favourite chocolate cake, but not the entire cake. Finally it all comes down to cutting down on the portion of food intake. If you see our menu, we have quite a good variety of food items that includes desserts as well. But depending on the condition of the client, we calculate the consumption quantity and only that reaches their hands.
What makes Diet Delight unique from other clinics offering services like yours?
You are right; there are several diet clinics that run in our kingdom. We stand apart from them due to two main reasons: the major one being, this is the place where we not only advise a healthy diet practice but provide our clients with those specific foods, cooked and brought to their doorstep on time, thrice every day. Also, at diet or weight loss centres, the practitioners need not be the owner. But I am the founder of Diet Delight and also the head clinical dietician. It makes a whole lot of difference taking the centre from being just another point of revenue to actually catering to the healthcare of the society.
Looks like your clients can’t stop taking food from you once they start. What is the secret?
Oh…no! We don’t have any secrets (smiles). I have always been in love with cookbooks and during my travels I always remember to collect as many cookbooks as I can, to get a better insight into healthy cooking habits. Over time my chefs and I have worked on several menus to fulfill our requirements without compromising on the quality of the final product. Also, feedback from our clients is of great importance. We immediately remove any item that has been given a negative response from more than five clients. We also make sure that the menu is updated every 2-3 months. But there are a few items that have been on our menu since the beginning and have been all-time favourites. We also have a state of the art kitchen which functions mainly during the night and our experienced chefs work together to get the best on to our menu. And yes, I have several of my clients who continue to avail of our food delivery services as part of their continued weight maintenance practice.
What’s your take on the organic food fad that is going around these days?
One thing that I want everyone to understand is that any food material when called organic, means it is free of pesticides. I would like to clear a common misconception about organic foods; please understand that they are not fat –free. I sincerely wish that such items were widely available in the market today and at a more affordable cost. I am glad that Bahrain has our own market place like the farmer’s market in Budaiya that has quite a good amount of affordable organic raw fruits and vegetables available. My advice to everyone is to ensure that the fruits and vegetables are washed thoroughly under running tap water before use. It would be better if they are soaked in salt water for some time and then washed in normal water. At diet delight we use fresh and organic fruits and vegetables when it comes to dishes like salads as they are consumed raw.
What are the steps involved in a normal session you have with a client?
All my sessions involve clients having their initial physical assessment done and then I have a personal discussion with them relating to their current issues including the diet and any medications they are on. It might take as much as over 45 minutes but that is the first step towards building the relationship. I even have teenagers coming to me. They need more dedication from my end as winning their trust is the only way to take away the scare of going under a diet from their minds. I offer them a diet that includes burgers, pizza and lasagna, which are of course prepared in a healthier way.
What are the challenges that you face as head dietician here?
I easily get emotionally attached to my patients. When they weigh themselves on that scale and see their weight going down, their happiness becomes mine and when they are disappointed with not achieving the results, their distress becomes mine. To help them stay motivated and not to have them switch to ‘cheat meals’, and achieve the desired result is the biggest challenge that I face. It also involves keeping myself motivated.
How do you look at your success made over these years? Where do you see Diet Delight in the next 5 years?
I am really happy with the achievements we have made over these years. And I would like to add that the credit does not belong to me alone. I am thankful to the support of my family and the wonderful team I am blessed with. Diet Delight works around the clock with our kitchen functioning in the night, to our delivery boys going around in the mornings and our clinic functioning during the afternoon. The packer we have here do a tremendous job making sure that the requirement of each and every client is individually taken care of. It is this joint effort where everyone does their part with absolute efficiency that has given us the success that we have today. We are now planning to take Diet Delight outside Bahrain. So in the next few years we will be there in other parts of the GCC as well.