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Welcome to the first issue of Whole Health Magazine! This idea has been a long time in the making…my partner Jesse Meyer and I have known each other for several years and have always continuously tried to figure out ways to more deeply involve ourselves in the things that we are passionate about and bring us enthusiasm. More specifically, how can we share our knowledge and experience in the realm of health, nutrition, food, yoga, ayurveda and healing and make it modern, approachable and relevant? We hope to achieve that here. I grew up in a home where the quality and source of our food was very important.
I remember being the kid with raisins (in a bag from the local co-op, not even the little boxed version) and crumbly brown bread (that usually had some sort of sprouts in the middle) at lunchtime when most of my friends were munching on chips and pizza. At holiday time, fruit and carob “chocolates” were in full effect. Dessert equaled yogurt and honey. As I got older, horizons were expanded, but the emphasis and importance of eating real whole food and sharing mealtime with the family never changed. When I was younger I didn’t appreciate this philosophy as much, but as an adult I am so grateful to have been taught the basics of how to eat well, be mindful, appreciative, aware and truly value the source of my food.
From this root I continued to study and learn about food, health, nutrition and the importance of what we put into our bodies. What I initially learned was that there was an overwhelming amount of conflicting information out there that told us what and how to eat. The confusion began. Should I be vegan or eat meat/poultry/seafood? Farmed or wild?
Fat free or sugar free? Raw foods? Macrobiotic? How about dairy? Soy?
And now, clearly, gluten should be out, right? Are they adding hormones? And, how am I getting ripe mangos in January? Oh, and then there was my blood type to consider…and food combing…and Atkins and Paleo and South Beach, oh my! The major pattern and flaw that I began to see with most of these ideologies was that they took the “one shoe fits all” mentality and often eliminated a major food group from everyone’s diet.
They failed to take into consideration each person’s individual needs, constitution, the time of year or time of day for that matter. Who is to say that one person won’t benefit and achieve balance by eating beef in January where another may not fair so well? And why might a juice cleanse ground one person and make another feel like they are flying off into the ethers? I was just getting more and more confused. I finally started to use my own body as a kind of grounds for experimentation.
How did I feel when I ate certain things? Did I feel energized and balanced? Satisfied and clear? Or tired, undernourished and irritable? Getting in tune with and becoming aware of what my body was really feeling and needed took some time…but what I figured out is that our bodies are absolutely amazing.
When you clear away the clutter, your body will tell you what it is looking for. It is not rocket science my friends, it is basic stuff. Our bodies desire to maintain an equilibrium and fight hard for us to do so everyday. Truly, many of us have just become so far removed from what we are actually eating and how it is affecting us (it isn’t normal to constantly get indigestion! ), it has become a lot more complicated than it needs to be.
Essentially, it is truly about getting to understand your own individual constitution and using food, herbs, and spices as a fun tool to find your balance. After all, food is something we all need for energy, nutrients, and hopefully pleasure, right? ? Caring what I put into my body also went hand in hand with how I treated my body as a whole. I was always an athlete and as I got older, was naturally drawn to the physical yoga practice.
As I began to deepen my yoga practice, I made the decision to get my 200-hour yoga certification at Sonic Yoga in NYC. It was here that I began to truly understand what yoga was all about, which included a much more in-depth and thorough study of ayurveda (“the science of life”). Ayurvedic principles regarding diet and lifestyle really spoke to me. I had finally found something that was based on the idea that everyone is different and, therefore, has different needs. Ayurveda identifies three basic types of energy that are present in everybody and everything – vata, pitta and kapha.
All people have vata, pitta and kapha, but one is usually primary, one secondary and the third less prominent. Needless to say, we all need some tools to balance out our individual makeup. Since we are in the midst of the summer months, pitta season, this dosha can easily become extra aggravated in all of us. Pitta is the energy of digestion and metabolism, exuding warm, oily, sharp, short and fiery tendencies. When this dosha gets out of balance (again, more vulnerable to do so in the hotter months) we may feel irritated, aggravated, short-tempered and develop skin rashes, burning sensations, inflammations or irritations.
This is where the beauty of using food (breath and movement) as thy medicine comes in…it can all be countered by what we choose to consume and ultimately our attitude, feelings and thoughts about it.