This book Eat, Taste, Heal: An Ayurvedic Cookbook for Modern Living by Thomas Yarema, Daniel Rhoda and Johnny Brannigan has changed my life back for good.
Or will (since I got it on Valentine’s Day which is not that long ago). At least, it changed my mind and shifted my thoughts and perspective on eating, exercising and living at all.
Because what’s written in there makes so much sense!
And here is why: I am a naturally curious person who likes to try out new things, trends and recommendations from other people and I always want to save the planet (or at least really don’t want another being suffer for my pleasure of eating meat). Plus, of course, who doesn’t want to live a healthy and happy life with a balanced mix of work and leisure, time for rest and exercise to become a hundred years? So the last couple of years I was searching and trying out foods and things. I studied the pros and cons of veganism, vegetarianism, fruitarianism, and flexitarianism and also of eating raw and super/power food, consuming conventional and organic ingredients, and figured out why so many fitness coaches recommend eating lots of protein (a.k.a. meat) if you want to lose some weight.
It was a very interesting approach, but, to be honest, a very confusing experience too. Besides that, the results weren’t as good as promised. E. g. eating vegan (other than I said more than once a week) didn’t make me feel that much better (I felt easier, yes, but that wasn’t a good feeling – I will come to that later) and I also didn’t lose weight, in fact I gained a few pounds. I also started reacting allergic or sick to certain fruits and food combinations, that I never experienced before. And all the time I was thinking, I am eating organic food, mostly veggies, and rarely animal products, why do I feel sick?
And then I read this book that is written by a doctor, a certified Ayurveda practitioner, and a chef. And then I got it.
Well, first the idea of Ayurveda was just another thing amidst this I-like-to-try-it-out concept of mine. But then, it somehow brought me back to where I once came from and since then I am feeling like myself again. And better. And that happened just by adjusting the selection of the things I eat. Of course, I knew, I am what I eat. Therefore, I decided to only eat organic foods anymore around 15 years ago. But it was much more that comes with that.
So Ayurveda isn’t only another way of eating certain foods, it’s a whole lifestyle concept that says, you don’t need any medicine if you nourish your body with the right food it needs. In fact, Ayurveda is the traditional Hindu medicine system that is about 6.000 years old. But what is the right food? Well, therefore Ayurveda has the concept of the three constitution types, Vata, Pitta, Kapha, also known as the three doshas. Every human being has parts of these three types in its physical and psychological constitution and feels good and healthy when they are all in balance. But every person has one significant dosha or a combination out of two or three that tends to get out of balance when certain influences (e. g. food, stress) get a bit out of control. Then this imbalance can cause issues or diseases.
There are endless tests online and also a good one in this book to find out which dosha type you are. But when you are taking such a test, don’t think so much about how you are feeling/behaving right now, try recalling how you were as a child or teenager. Because that behavior back then might be your true one, ’cause it is most probably the closest one to your own true nature. Because back then when you were a child you never thought things like I have to eat more apples or I have to do more sports. You just did or didn’t do things, just according to your appetite or desire (like eating sweets before lunch or dinner, which according to this book is totally natural, ’cause your body digests sugar first). And you would also avoid certain food when your body would make you feel to do so.
Ah, I was thinking, that makes sense!
Growing up in the Western hemisphere I experienced that if you feel sick after eating a certain food, simply don’t eat it or – if you don’t want to turn into a picky eater (like I did) – just take a pill. Before eating, after eating or in general. The same goes with every other thing in life. If you wanna stay healthy, do some sport. And if you don’t feel good doing it, let it be (and get fat and sluggish) or take a pill. Just the same with work. Work hard and if you feel burned out, take a pill (for some reasons unemployment is not an option).
What I learned from this book was, I am a Pitta type. As an example, that means I should reduce or avoid anything hot/spicy and sour. Otherwise, I might feel sick (I’ve had some of the symptoms you can find in the book). Finding out about that a lot of things came to my mind. I actually never liked olives that much when I was young. I never liked drinking wine, coffee, black or green tea, I never enjoyed eating hot and spicy dishes. I also got sick from eating hard cheese, felt bad in my stomach after eating greasy dishes and always preferred warm cooked meals over sandwiches. But I did eat all of those things, because someone (a doctor) or something (a magazine) said, I should because it’s supposed to be good for me.
So when I changed my diet to nourishing my body with vegetarian/vegan/raw/super food over the years for the good reason of saving the planet/not supporting intensive animal farming I actually made a decision against my own wellbeing. Because eating fruits and veggies and animal product substitutes somehow caused an imbalance. Which I, of course, felt anytime there was a slice of fresh Serrano ham in sight. Or the scent of broiler in the air. Then I only could resist with thinking of the fact that this animal didn’t have a good life. It was short and painful and it got food and medicine to eat that I don’t want to nourish my body with.
But the craving was still there. And so there were the issues created by exclusively eating food that was actually not meant to be eaten exclusively. I felt uplifted in a bad way, maybe a bit like being on an energy drink all the time. Not grounded at all. Not good at all. I started doing Yoga more regularly and also started meditation. It helped, but only a bit.
Eating fresh fruits and veggies supports your health indeed. No question there. But just like the saying, too much of a good thing isn’t always good, I guess I ate too much of it. I also started to take nutritional supplements when I had allergic reactions or health issues after eating certain food.
And then all of this started to feel strange. And wrong. I started to think I don’t want to take nutritional supplements and damage my own body for this small amount of animals I am going to eat thoughtfully in my whole life. And I really want to feel grounded again like the lion king after eating an antelope. Nourished, full, and contentedly.
So I started to eat meat again. Occasionally. But not any meat. Like I did it years ago, it needs to be high-quality organic meat from animals raised on an organic farm close to my town or at least from Germany. Most of the times, it comes in big packs and huge pieces, so I have the chance to recognize it as an animal and not just as a product in a plastic bag. What makes the cooking even harder, actually really hard. It costs me a lot of willpower to cut a whole fish or a whole chicken into pieces. But that’s good. It makes the cooking process and eating a more conscious experience and lets me feel very grateful for the good things that come with it and those that will make me feel nourished and balanced.
So besides an introduction to Ayurveda you will also find in Eat, Taste, Heal: An Ayurvedic Cookbook for Modern Living (30,23 Euro on Amazon) recommended dosha-based sports and recipes. Plus, there are a lot of fundamental basics and helpful tips if you are new to Ayurveda or new to cooking at all. And not to forget all of these very useful charts of the ingredients you should prefer or reduce according to your constitutional type which are added to this book. There are great pictures and illustrations too, but the most convincing part for me was, that the authors kept saying, these are just recommendations, always listen to your body first, it tells you what is good for you.
For me, this book opened doors and kept its promise, that certain symptoms will disappear shortly after adjusting the nourishment of your body. I am already feeling better and I am looking forward trying out the recipes that are included while considering what my body wants to eat and taste to be healed.
Enjoy your reading!
PS: This is only my experience. Of course, every person is different and needs different things to feel balanced and healthy.