Fortunately, Ayurveda offers a lot more flexibility than you think when cooking for people with a variety of food preferences. This flexibility often comes without any extra cooking at all. You'll just need to know a few tips and tricks. By following these, you'll soon be able to make healthy family meals that are simple, easy, and enjoyable for all.
First, recognize he's not likely to switch from pizza to kitchari overnight. You have to prove to loved ones that Ayurveda actually works, and that's a good thing. At Joyful Belly, we believe that health, like disease, is contagious. When the people around you start to see the benefits, they will believe and want to follow in your footsteps. Your renewed vibrancy, vitality and emotional stability are strong motivating agents for change that will draw others around you.
As you wait for the rest of the family to get on the same page, you may feel like you're caught in a catch-22 because it's difficult to make the changes alone. But Ayurveda gives you lots of options and simple modifications to suit the whole dinner table. With a little practice, you can easily accommodate the naysayers and realize your Ayurvedic aspirations.
Tip #1: Overcoming ResistanceIt's important to validate your spouse's concerns around your new diet. Your spouse's resistance can actually be helpful, and prevent you from making too many drastic changes at once. Your spouse knows you best, and you want the benefits of the intimacy you share to influence your life choices, right?
Many people restrict excessively - we see the ill results of this all the time in our clinic. In these cases, a spouse can be welcome relief from rigidity. Spouses also offer a clear headed reprieve from your anxious worry about what to eat. Learn from your spouse's food habits as much as you want your spouse to learn from you.
Find a happy medium. Periodically allow for indulgent favorites. Ayurveda is not about always making the perfect choice, it's about skillfully navigating life's complexities. Bring your family's happiness into your diet considerations and do the best you can.
Most important, be hopeful and gracious. Changing the habits of others can be challenging. It requires patience and humility. Life is a journey, and all the frustrations that come with it are a natural side effect of striving for happiness. Yet even as you model patience, don't forget to ask your spouse for support in your healing and to be appreciative when you get it.
Tip #2: Ayurveda & Familiar FoodsThe first thing to remember is that Ayurveda can be applied to any cuisine or palate. You don't need exotic foods from faraway places to eat Ayurvedically. For example, you'll find many of Joyful Belly's recipes are an Ayurvedic rendition of American classics. These recipes include familiar ingredients, pleasing a broad range of tastes. The perfect place to start when introducing Ayurvedic recipes is serving meals your family already enjoys. This weekend, why not serve the family brunch with Pistachio Pancakes or oat flour waffles? Or, how about a Saturday night dinner of salmon burgers and sweet potato fries? They won't even know these meals are Ayurvedic!
Chop up zucchini to add to your meatloaf or your baked ziti. This will add fiber to enhance digestibility and balance the heaviness of those dishes. Try chicken soup instead of fried chicken, or homemade maple cream walnut cookies with spelt rather than store bought chocolate chip cookies. Plenty of healthy meals can be made simply and quickly - don't get discouraged. Pre-made sauces transform steamed veggies and whole grains from health food to hot diggity! It never hurts to have an old familiar backup like ravioli and red sauce on hand in case your latest creation flounders upon harsh tongues. Keep your sense of humor handy and sprinkle it generously on any negative reactions.
Tip #3: Portion Food According to Individual NeedsWhen adopting your new diet, it's inevitable that you will be cooking for individuals with very different health needs. The easiest way to accommodate individuals is with individual portions.
Your husband may need that hearty steak after a long day's work, while you may be looking to shed a few pounds. In that case, serve yourself a heaping portion of asparagus saffron risotto with a small portion of steak on the side. Serve him a hearty portion of steak with the risotto as a side.
Serving chicken for dinner? Let hubby enjoy the dark meat. Let the kids eat the crispy skin while you enjoy the leaner white meat. Let your spouse fill his plate with 2/3's meat and 1/3 veggies while you portion your plate in a way that is supportive for you.
Tip #4: Personalizing Meals Without Extra CookingSo how on earth can you do cook for the whole family, considering each person's individual needs? Rest assured, you don't have to! Once you get a handle of the Ayurvedic style of cooking, you'll soon realize that most foods can be supportive to different body types with some minor modifications. Most meals can be made friendly for all, or tridoshic, by just a few adjustments.
Using condiments is the most simple way to tailor foods to each body type without having to cooking a separate meal for each person. For example, if you know a member of your family is high Pitta, add some cilantro to their dish to make it a little more cooling. For Vatas, a squeeze of lemon and a pinch of mineral salt will help them digest the meal. Kaphas can add some black pepper, basil leaves or some fresh ginger to wake up their sluggish digestion.
As a kapha, my wife puts vinegar on her potatoes while I, who am more Vata, enjoy my potatoes with butter or olive oil and a pinch of salt. Similarly, most staple foods can be easily tailored for any body type using the right garnish.
Garnish one plate with fresh, digestive herbs. Let another decide on a helping of grated cheese. Let individuals add salt, spices, and oil to their own plate. Cut up some bread so no one feels deprived, while you can focus on green, lighter fare. Here are some garnish ideas that can be sprinkled on any food to make it more compatible with your doshas:
Vata Pacifying Garnishes
Pitta Pacifying Garnishes
Kapha Pacifying Garnishes
If that's too much trouble there are also specially formulated spice mixes (churnas) for each dosha to balance digestion. Hingvastak churna relieves Vata gas, bloating, and dry constipation. Avipattikar churna alleviates Pitta inflammation and a tendency toward diarrhea. Trikatu mitigates slow, heavy, Kapha digestion. These churnas can either be sprinkled atop food as you would salt and pepper, or added to hot water and consumed thirty minutes before a meal.
Tip #5: If You Must Serve Separate MealsThere may be instances where you just can't seem to please everyone at your table. To keep things simple and prevent you from hours of laboring in the kitchen, use similar ingredients to make personalized dishes. A taco salad for you and a burrito for him.
Cooking a separate meal for yourself is a last resort. People bond over eating the same foods, and this aspect of a relationship is lost to individuals eating separate foods. When necessary, crockpots are a simple and easy way to cook something healthy for yourself. You can set your healthy stew a-cookin before heading off to work and then whip up a cheeseburger when dinner time rolls around. In that case, make a fun beverage like ginger basil limeade the whole family can bond over.
Tip #6: Setting LimitsA sweet treat might actually be just the trick to help win your family over to a more healthy way of eating. Everyone needs a little sweetness in their lives, and Ayurveda certainly recognizes that. However, Ayurveda offers natural alternatives to refined sugar that are supportive to the body, rather than toxic like many modern treats made from white sugar. These snack and dessert recipes will help satisfy your family's sweet tooth, and you can rest assured they are slowly cutting out processed sugars from their diet.
On hot summer nights, the kids can help you make some simple banana ice cream with almonds. Or, on cooler days enjoy a comforting sweet potato pecan crisp for you and your spouse to share after a long week at work.
Many clients at the Joyful Belly Clinic report they have a hard time resisting treats that are in easy reach. If your spouse stocks your home with sugary treats, kindly request he keeps these treats in a special, out of sight location. If you're the one that does the grocery shopping, be reasonable when accommodating requests from family members, but know where to draw the line.
In our household, the line is partially hydrogenated oils such as the shortening found in most commercial biscuits and croissants. We also don't allow drinks or candy with refined sugar. We don't allow energy drinks. Finally, we avoid fried chips because they often contain rancid oils. Everything else is fair game.
Tip #7: Building AwarenessAyurveda encourages self reflection and observation. Take note of how your new way of eating is making you feel. Share your successes with your family, "I've been sleeping better since I've made some changes to my diet. My stomach doesn't hurt anymore, and my joint pain is greatly relieved too."
Also, take note of how food makes your family feel. Lovingly point out to family members when a diet choice has had an ill effect - though they may groan when you do so. One of the best ways to convert spouses, parents and kids is noticing how food affects them.
My kids often fight within minutes after eating a bowl of ice cream. Then I ask them, "Is that ice cream making you upset again?" When I notice grandpa needs to take a nap after a heavy pasta dish, I remind him, "The kids were wondering where you went after that big bowl of pasta." This empathetic approach works wonders because it helps your family connect their food choices to health outcomes.
Ayurveda's approach to food is personal and easy to relate to. It's not about counting calories or assessing mineral content, it's experiential and individualized. You don't need to memorize nutrition facts and weigh out ounces. You simply need to tune into your body's reactions.
People are more willing to engage when they understand the new choices you are making. As you start thinking about and planning your meals in an entirely new way, you'll naturally want to share this with your other half, "Honey, since it's bitterly cold outside, we're having a warm and spicy soup that will get our blood circulating." Once you can understand Ayurveda approach, using the qualities of foods and spices as well as the medicinal uses of Ayurveda's six tastes, you will be able to communicate with your spices about your diet in an enjoyable way.
Soon, you'll find that your family will relate to Ayurveda's basic principles and intuitively start to make changes too.
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About the AuthorJohn Immel, the founder of Joyful Belly, teaches people how to have a healthy diet and lifestyle with Ayurveda. His approach to Ayurveda exudes a certain ease, which many find enjoyable and insightful. His online course Balance Your Ayurvedic Diet in a Week provides tools for gracefully healing with Ayurveda to thousands. John also directs Joyful Belly's School of Ayurveda , which specializes in digestive tract pathology & Ayurvedic nutrition. John and his wife Natalie recently published Explore Your Hunger: A Guide to Hunger, Appetite & Food.
John's interest in Ayurveda and digestive tract pathology was inspired by a complex digestive disorder acquired from years of international travel, including his public service work in South Asia. John's commitment to the detailed study of digestive disorders reflects his zeal to get down to the roots of the problem. His hope and belief in the capacity of each & every client to improve their quality of life is nothing short of a personal passion. John's creativity in the kitchen and delight in cooking for others comes from his family oriented upbringing. In addition to his certification in Ayurveda, John holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Harvard University.
John enjoys sharing Ayurveda within the context of his Catholic roots, and finds Ayurveda gives him an opportunity to participate in the healing mission of the Church. Jesus expressed God's love by feeding and healing the sick. That kindness is the fundamental ministry of Ayurveda as well.
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Hey folks at Joyful Belly, I wanted to reach out and give you some feedback on this particular mailing. Let me say that I have subscribed to your newsletters for awhile and I usually really enjoy your content. I'm always impressed by the timing of your mailings- wether you are walking about spring changes to diet or cooling lemonade in the heat of summer, you are usually on point. However, with this mailing I wanted to share with you that I feel it is demeaning and sexist. I believe stereotyping men as unhealthy eaters is false and portrays them as dumb. While some men enjoy pizza all the time, many men take care of their bodies just as well (if not better than) women. On the other hand, you have stereotyped the woman as the cook and head of the menu planning in the household. Again, sometimes true, but just as often not. I know you probably had a specific target market in mind for this mailing, but I wanted to let you know how it made me feel. - Posted for Josephine