Anjum Anand, author of Anjum's Eat Right for Your Body Type: The Super-Healthy Detox Diet Inspired By Ayurveda
shares her recipe for Carrot and Lentil soup and five Ayurveda tips that can improve your health. She also discusses how to lose weight and what foods should never be eaten together.
Commitmentnow.com: What is Ayurveda and how does it differ from a traditional Western way of looking at health and medicine?
Anjum Anand: Ayurveda is an ancient holistic science, simply translated to mean “the science of living wisely and well.” It has many parts to it, but when it comes to health and food, it believes that food can be both medicine and poison.
Eating too much of the wrong thing for a long period of time can harm your body, but eating the right foods will keep you in optimum health. Most of us forget that food is the most important source of nutrition for our bodies, and a body that is not getting a full range of nutrients will not be fully healthy.
Ayurveda believes we are not all created equal. It believes that there are five elements which make up everything in the universe: air, ether, water, fire and earth—but in unique proportions. It is our own personal combination of these elements which makes us each distinct, it is like our DNA and gives us our own mind/body type.
There are three mind/body types known as doshas: vata (air and ether), pitta (fire and a little water) and kapha (earth and water). They determine our health, constitution, weaknesses, and even how we talk and walk.
For genuine health we need to keep our elemental doshas in balance. My book, Anjum’s Eat Right for Your Body Type, includes a simple quiz to help you figure out your dosha, explains the science behind it, and provides a guide for how to eat for optimum health.
Ayurveda is a holistic science which sees the body, mind and soul as a whole and treats the body accordingly. Ayurveda is first a preventative science and then curative one. It says there are several stages to an illness.
The West only identifies an illness once it manifests itself with persistent symptoms, which is already several stages into the imbalance. Ayurveda aims to keep the body in health to avoid the illness from the outset.
Commitmentnow.com: Can you explain to our readers the three dominant doshas in Ayurveda and what the characteristics of each dosha are?
Anjum: We all have all five elements within us, the earth element can be seen in all masses, bones, hair, skin etc. Water is in our cells, blood, etc.
The fire element is evident in the heat of our body, and is also in our enzymes which combust our food.
The air element can also be felt in the movement of blood and our internal wind and ether is the space it all happens in. But there will always be one or two dominant elements that will give us our own dosha.
The three mind/body types are vata, pitta and kapha.
The Vata body type is governed by air and ether. Vata body types are usually slender with lean musculature and small frames. They have a tendency towards dry skin, hair and even eyes. Like the wind they are very active and pick up things very quickly, but they also forget and get distracted quickly. They tend to be creative types.
The pitta body type is governed by fire with a little water. They usually have moderate frames, height and weight. They have good, ruddy skin and good hair but tend to go grey early. They are good orators, focused and driven. They have a sharp intellect and good memories, but they tend towards being over-analytical and slightly controlling. As can be expected with this element, these people get hot under the collar quite easily. They have strong appetites and a good metabolism.
The kapha body type is governed by earth and water. They tend to have larger frames and are curvier with well-developed muscles and a little more fat content than the others. They tend to be more patient, calmer, and slower (but steadier) than the other body types. They have melodious voices, lustrous hair and really good skin. They tend to have a strong immunity but have a tendency towards weight gain.
Commitmentnow.com: How can a person who is a Vata dosha incorporate Ayurvedic concepts into their life?
Anjum: A vata person needs to find more calm and grounding in their life. They should do some yoga, meditate, and go for long walks. They should eat regularly, not skip meals, and opt for small balanced meals with a decent amount of fat to help with the dryness in their systems.
Warm meals suit them best and they should be careful of eating too many salads, beans and vegetables which increase the air element. They should use the warm meal to bring their normally airy system to a more balanced level.
Commitmentnow.com: What are the best foods and lifestyle choices for a Pitta dosha?
Anjum: A pitta person needs to seek calm, coolness and an even balance of life and work in their lives. They should avoid exercising in the heat and opt for swims or walks in the early morning. Meditation is also really good to calm and cool their active minds.
They should avoid eating too many meals that are spicy and hot or too sour like vinegar. They can include lots of salads and raw vegetables in their diet as they have strong metabolisms. Fruits, juices and other cooling foods suit them.
Commitmentnow.com: What foods should a Kapha never eat?
Anjum: Kapha should avoid too many foods that are heavy and cooling, such as fat, dairy, ice creams, meat, and heavy sauces. They should also avoid a diet high in salt and sugar. Stir-fries, grills and barbecues are best for them.
Warm meals with spices and chilies also suit their body types, as kapha people need to increase the element of fire in their bodies.
Commitmentnow.com: What are five tips from Ayurveda that can help those who want to improve their health?
1. Eat small, regular meals.
2. Eat a varied diet.
3. Never drink cold drinks.
4. Sip only hot water with your meals.
5. Banish stress.
Commitmentnow.com: Can you share with us some advice on food combining? What foods make a great combination?
Anjum: Here are some general food-combining tips to keep in mind:
• Fresh fruit is best eaten alone.
• Two complex proteins (such as fish and cheese or meat and beans) should not be eaten at the same meal as it puts a strain on the digestion.
• Salads should be eaten with oil.
• Herbs are mostly cooling and so go very well with meats and fish.
• Do not have too many ingredients on the plate.
Commitmentnow.com: Can you share with us your weight loss story and what tips do you have for those who want to lose weight?
Anjum: I stopped filling myself with processed diet foods and started to think about what was actually good for my body. I completely overhauled my diet and began to eat a diet of healthy meals with small portions. I started to exercise most days and the weight steadily but slowly came off. And most importantly, I have maintained my balanced, healthy diet ever since.
I don’t think there are any secrets to weight loss. You should follow a healthy balanced diet and eat regularly, but only when hungry and stop when you are full. Understanding which foods suit you and which don’t will definitely help.
Avoid frozen foods and cold drinks and sip hot water with meals.
Exercising or being active will really help shift the weight and maintain health, fitness, and a good mood.
Commitmentnow.com: Can you share with us one of the wonderful recipes from your cookbook?
Carrot and Lentil Soup
Suits all doshas
Serves 2 generously
2 teaspoons ghee or vegetable oil
½ medium onion, chopped
¼-ounce piece ginger, roughly chopped
2 small garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper
11 ounces carrots, sliced
2 tablespoons red lentils, washed
½ teaspoon vegetable bouillon stock powder, dissolved in 2 ¾ cups water
Handful of cilantro
Heat the ghee or oil in a small nonstick saucepan. Add the onion and cook gently until golden, then add the ginger and garlic and stir for 40 to 60 seconds. Add the spices and seasoning; stir for 20 seconds. Add the carrots, lentils, and stock. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
Take off the heat and blend to make a smooth soup. Pour back into the pan and add extra water if the soup is too thick for your liking. Reheat, taste, and adjust seasoning. Serve topped with cilantro.
Commitmentnow.com: What are some daily habits you would recommend for those who want to improve their health and energy level?
Anjum: Drink lots of hot water throughout the day.
Only eat when you are hungry and stop when you are 50-70% full. Over eating, even healthy food, is bad for the body and burdens the digestive system.
Eat a diet of mainly freshly cooked meals and avoid processed foods as much as possible.
Make lunch your largest meal as your digestion is strongest at that time.
Most importantly: remain calm and avoid stress as much as possible. Try to be positive and laugh a little as negativity and stress can do the body harm.
About the Author: Anjum Anand is the host of Indian Food Made Easy on the "Cooking Channel" in the United States, and her cookbooks are bestsellers in the United Kingdom. She lives in London with her family.
To purchase "Anjum's Eat Right for Your Body Type: The Super-Healthy Detox Diet Inspired By Ayurveda" click here.