One of our favorite Green Diva Guest Co-Hosts, Barbara Taylor, is at it again – thankfully someone is! She took on an interesting book review – please check it out . . .
In Freedom in Your Relationship with Food, Myra Levin combines the principles of Ayurveda and yoga to promote a whole life plan to raise the reader’s consciousness toward food and eating. The book is filled with useful information on which foods to eat and which to avoid, but more importantly encourages the reader to take responsibility for examining the beliefs about food that may or may not hold truth (e.g., fat is bad, or I need to have chips with my sandwich). If you are willing to change your beliefs and take responsibility, Levin states, “you will begin to choose foods your body wants and needs and not just what the taste buds want.”
Ayurveda is a five-thousand-year-old tradition that focuses on restoring balance within the body, mind, and spirit. It is founded upon the idea that everyone has an individual constitution based on one or more of three “doshas,” as outlined below. The foods you eat can help create a balance in the physical and emotional tendencies associated with each dosha, or can exacerbate negative traits if you are already out of balance. Levin describes some of the characteristics of each dosha as follows:
Vata (air and ether)
In balance: creative and flexible
Out of balance: fear, anxiety
Pitta (fire and water)
In balance: intelligent, understanding
Out of balance: anger, jealousy
Kapha (earth, water)
In balance: calm, loving
Out of balance: greed, attachment
She offers a self-assessment to determine which type or types may be dominant, based on characteristics such as body type, hair, sleep patterns, mental activities. I took the test myself and most of the choices were straightforward, but a couple had me confused (digestion choices were irregular/gassy, quick/burning, prolonged/mucous….ah, what about normal??). Overall, however, it was clear I am a predominantly a mix of kapha and pitta, and the book prescribes the best food choices to stay balanced within each dosha.
As an example, if you are primarily pitta, you may include more pitta balancing food in the summer (to reduce the hot fire element). These types of cooling foods include grains such as oats and sweet brown rice, vegetables such as kale and cucumber, and spices such as dill and cilantro. You would also minimize consumption of sour fruit such as grapefruits and lemons.
I found the instruction in the “problems and answers” chapter especially helpful. Specific tips are given for maladies such as blood sugar fluctuation, constant fatigue, overeating, and sleep difficulties. Levin also includes some recipes, and although she does not provide specific instruction on yoga she does include some meditations.
She also includes other thought-provoking ideas, such as avoiding food that is “pretending to be something it is not.” She says that “eating tofu and calling it some kind of meat is not facing reality. Playing with the mind and not facing reality will increase unconsciousness.”
The book was a good overview of using Ayurveda to take responsibility for your relationship with food. And while the recommendations could ultimately signal a radical departure from current eating habits, I like that fact that Levin talks about change as a process and encourages the reader to “take small steps in the direction you want to go in order to develop greater confidence.”
And as the summer heats up, I am off to prepare a cooling kelp noodle salad.