By Susan Barozzi
I first came to Hale Pule in the spring of 2016. Before that, I had spent many years being told by various practitioners that I was allergic to many of the foods I was eating, or that I was prone to candida overgrowth and had parasites with no apparent symptoms. I had also been plagued with low blood sugar issues and was told to eat snacks every hour or two to keep my blood sugar up. Being one of the “sensitive types” I found I was easily overwhelmed by life’s challenges and had a tendency to worry about things more than I would have liked. I decided that I was ready for a new story. I wanted to heal my relationship with food.
I remembered that there was a school of Ayurveda on Kauai where I live. After finding it online, I discovered that Myra Lewin, the Ayurvedic teacher and practitioner at Hale Pule, had written a book called, Freedom in Your Relationship with Food. Yes! This is exactly what I was looking for. I went that very afternoon to pick up Myra’s book and her accompanying cookbook of easy Ayurvedic recipes. And so began my healing journey at Hale Pule.
I had briefly studied Ayurveda in the past and had always resonated with its connection to the rhythms of nature and all of life. Myra informed me that many of the symptoms I was experiencing, including insomnia, bloating and constipation, were all symptoms of excess vata.
Ayurveda is more than a diet
My work with Myra has been much more than just taking herbs and following a new diet regime. In Freedom in Your Relationship with Food, she says that preparing and eating food is an offering to the divine. This concept changed my perspective on food and elevated my whole experience of eating. It has been a life-changing experience that is helping me to adopt a completely new lifestyle. Cooking nearly all of my meals for myself has become a pleasure and feels as though I am loving myself in a deeper way.
Previous to my working with Myra, I had been following the advice of the practitioner that I had been seeing to limit the amount of carbs I was eating and eating lots of meat and fish even though I didn’t really like it. I was told I had to eat large amounts of animal protein in order keep my blood sugar up. I was so relieved when Myra suggested I add more carbs to my diet and that I could improve my blood sugar levels and strengthen my digestion by spacing my meals 4 to 5 hours apart. This was very challenging at first but I was determined to make it work and it felt right. It was the way I had always wanted to eat.
Classifying foods into augmenting and extractive has been very helpful in planning balanced meals. It has helped me to realize how imbalanced I had been eating, since most of the foods I was eating were extractive and oftentimes left me feeling empty. Also, including all six tastes in every meal makes my meals much more satisfying. I feel nurtured and nourished by my food in a way that I don’t remember ever feeling before.
At first it seemed overwhelming to think that I would be cooking all of my own food. Buying a supply of small thermoses in which to keep my lunch or dinner warm when I take it with me as I go about my daily life has been very helpful. I usually find a quiet place in nature to enjoy my meals when I am out. Going out to dinner has taken on a whole new meaning.
Gone are the brightly colored packages of processed foods with their long lists of ingredients. All that’s left are my glass jars filled with the beautiful colors, shapes and sizes of the various grains and legumes. It feels very organic and I feel much closer to the earth and to the food I am eating. I also have a sense of satisfaction in knowing that I am no longer participating in and supporting the large corporate food producers in this country. I feel I am closer to living my truth.
Approaching Ayurveda in stages
I am still working on getting to bed earlier so I can rise with the sun and be in synchronicity with nature. Even though I still have some resistance, I feel a special resonance when I awaken with the sun. I have added pranayama to my morning meditation practice. It has become a wonderful way to start my day.
It has been over six months now since I changed my eating habits. My symptoms are gradually improving as my digestion gets stronger. My blood sugar is more balanced and I can go longer without eating. My elimination is slowly improving and I rarely experience bloating – usually only after I deviate from the diet. I feel more relaxed and have a greater sense of self. I feel much more balanced and my nervous system feels stronger.
I am learning to be more aware of and how to monitor the effects of the food that I eat. I have found that keeping a food journal is an invaluable tool in this process. By paying attention to the proportions of augmenting and extractive foods that I am eating, how well I am chewing my food and being careful to balance heating and cooling foods in accordance with the changing seasons, I am able to curb imbalances before they develop into more serious problems. Paying close attention to the condition of my tongue, my elimination and quality of sleep each night, along with looking for bloating in my belly gives me clues as to how well I am doing. All of this is helping me to unravel the myriad symptoms that I have been experiencing for over 30 years.
The changes I have made in my day-to-day life have helped me immensely. I firmly believe that a strong and healthy digestive system is essential to good health. As I move further into elderhood, I look forward to many more years of leading a healthy, active and vital life. My energy is good and I can feel my body gradually changing on many different levels. Even though it took me about two months months to feel comfortable with all of the changes I was making, I knew it felt right and I continued to persevere. Now, I feel so grateful to be reaping the benefits of the changes I have made and to be living my life as a prayer.
Are you ready for a new relationship with food? Enroll in our online class, Freedom in Your Relationship with Food.