We say that “food is medicine” in Ayurveda because nothing else has the same power to nourish, heal and bring together community (even if that community is a parent and child cooking together in a small kitchen). When you study Ayurveda, you learn that all foods have distinct properties that can bring you closer to or further from health, depending on your individual constitution. But Ayurveda also teaches that not all food is equal. Food that is filled with prana, cooked gently with digestive spices and served in a sattvic home environment is the medicine that we should seek.
Food is meant to be medicine. When we cook our own meals, this happens in two ways. The first is when you infuse your own loving energy into a meal. This is why we have a practice at Hale Pule of grounding ourselves before we start cooking – we choose to cook guided by our loving energy. The second is when you use your viveka, discrimination, to choose what and how much to eat. When you feel scattered or light, you can create a meal with a vata-calming grain, like brown basmati rice. If you notice too much heat in your body, you can add pitta-reducing foods, such as cucumber or mint. These are choices that you simply can’t make at a restaurant where someone else is in charge of the menu.
I work with clients in differing stages of their experience with cooking. Many haven’t cooked in years but are ready to make changes to feel better. Some cook all the time, but only by following recipes, so I guide them to tap into their creativity to make use of whatever is in their fridge or garden. I also work with a number of beginning Ayurvedic practitioners who want to better acquaint themselves with the opportunities in the kitchen so they can effectively counsel their clients. In Ayurveda, there is room for everyone who wants to embrace the healing power of food.
As more people rediscover the beauty and joy of Ayurvedic cooking at home, it’s not just our bodies that will heal. Whether we are alone or eating with friends and family, we can connect at the dinner table to share love with each bite. Because this, too, is medicine, and sometimes it is the kind we need most.
I’m hosting an Ayurvedic chef training this June on Kaua’i, open to anyone who is interested in understanding how to apply Ayurvedic principles to preparing simple, nourishing meals. Whether you want to teach your clients to cook, cook professionally or just learn more about how to feed yourself and your family well every day, we’ll give you the tools to embrace this art in light of the ancient science of Ayurveda.