Fruits Cleanse, Veggies Heal
If you had come home two weeks ago, you would have thought that I run an organic market. The floor was covered with rows of thirty papayas, a hundred apples, a hundred chikoos, more than a hundred bananas and five big boxes of dates.
A similar spread, of rice, greens, beans, carrots, raagi powder, jaggery, and cooking spices, was laid out in the homes of Abid and Shabbar (recent graduates of a Moved By Love retreat
had been persuaded to travel from their organic farm in Coimbature and come to Hyderabad to lead a one-day course. Called, Hacking Health: How to be your own Healer
, it would highlight what they have spent the past eight years learning and living – natural healing.
When we first thought of the idea, my mother asked, “Should we rustle up our relatives to fill in the audience?”, sweetly concerned that the turn-out would be disappointing. She need not have worried. More than 120 people registered and 90 showed up early Sunday morning, for the 7.30am-6pm session.
The room was brightened by fresh roses, Indian textiles, and colourful paper kites with intriguing slogans on them: “Fruits Cleanse, Veggies Heal,” “Chew water, drink food,” “We eat food, and it eats us.”
Ragu, a shining real-world example of living and healing naturally, took the group through the major sections of the natural healing philosophy and practice. Nisha and their friend Arabindh (who has cooked for every course they have conducted in the past five years), assisted by three households, did the marathon amounts of cooking. Volunteers helped at every level – roses as decoration, organizing a car pooling service, providing an enormous container of organic yogurt (to make buttermilk from), serving the meals with a smile, and forming a mailing list. The enthusiasm was palpable. Joy shimmered in the air.
A post is not long enough to summarize all the knowledge conveyed that Sunday. Ragu himself, was trying to cover in one day what they usually share over a seven-day course. So here are some highlights, in an easy to read format:
What is health?
Health is an optimal state of functioning
of the body and the mind.
We tend to assume that food provides energy. But the body is a living system
its energy to convert food into nourishment (building blocks) for its survival, growth and renewal.
How does food work?
Food does not digest itself. We spend
our energy to digest food and build our system. We eat food and it
eats us. Food is a tax on vitality, even if it is good food.
Is there a quality or hierarchy of foods?
Yes, in this order:
3. Raw Vegetables
4. Sprouted Millets, Legumes, Grains, Seeds
5. Cooked foods: (1) Baked, (2) Steamed, (3) Boiled (4) Fried
6. Non-Vegetarian foods (minimally processed and spiced)
7. Intoxicants: tea, coffee, alcohol, etc (no nutritional value)
What is disease?
People think that the ever increasing number of diseases require multiple types of interventions.
But, actually, all diseases have the same cause. And all cures occur due to the same process.
Diseases are the end products or the result of a degeneration of metabolism caused by: Consuming acidic foods, thoughts and emotions Wrong combination of foods Eating for reasons other than hunger Sensory overload in work and entertainment Greed and fear driven work culture
What can I do?
Avoid the five whites
Sugar Salt White pasta or rice Dairy White bread If you have to eat dairy, let it be organic yogurt or buttermilk. Wherever possible substitute millets for wheat.
Green juice every day
1 cup of greens, 1 banana, 2-3 dates. Blend. Drink.
What should my three meals of the day be like?
Try and sort your three meals of the day so that one meal is fruit, one meal is cooked and one meal is raw.
Keep a gap of at least two hours between anything
you eat. Remember that fruits digest much faster than cooked food, so never eat fruit after a meal.
Nuts take ages to digest so they are best eaten separately as a snack (not mixed into salads).
What does “Chew your water, drink your food,” mean?
There is a misconception that we have to drink a lot of water. Men need about 3 litres and women about 2 litres of liquids
per day (and this includes what you get from fruit.)
When you drink water, don't gulp it down. Sit down and drink it. Pay attention. Slosh it around your mouth, let it touch all sides. The kidneys filter however much you drink. So the obsession of drinking lots of water is misplaced. If one is eating healthy, enough fruits, etc., then one needs very little water intake.
Drink your food:
When you eat your food, chew it thoroughly until it becomes liquid in the mouth. Only then, should you take the next mouthful.
How does one approach Fasting?
Fasting is a way to allow space to help heal the body. It lets the body rest rather than have it constantly working to digest the food we put into it.
A multi-day fast should be done in times of illness, under supervision, and only after you have built up the ability to fast.
Here is how you start:
On a day of your choice, stop eating after lunch until breakfast the next morning. So you have fasted through dinner, through your sleep, till the next morning. You can have water or coconut water, but nothing else.
Do this once a week, for four weeks.
Once you are comfortable with step one, you can increase the time; fast from lunch to lunch. So now, you have skipped dinner and breakfast. Do this once a week, for four weeks.
By then end of this eight week cycle you will be prepared for longer fasts.
Fasting is seen as a way of allowing the body to do the repair work it needs to do (not just digestion.) So if one has a fever or any illness, a recommendation is to fast.
What about eating out?
Invite people home and cook together! Its easier to be healthy.
If you go out, try and eat healthy food. Of course, there are times when you cannot avoid eating out or are tempted to do so. In that case, the simple thing is just to skip the next meal.
For those of you who are curious, here is what we ate that day:
Breakfast: organic fruits, dates
11am: Sweet raagi porridge drink
Lunch: Brown rice, sambar, rasam, greens, beans and carrot with coconut curry, organic buttermilk
5pm: Lemon-ginger tea, brown chick-pea snack
Recipes for all these (and more), can be found here.
Since their workshop, emails have been pouring in; in appreciation, in gratitude, and in excitement for the changes that people are seeing in their bodies, in their lives. A local group has formed to explore urban gardening and healthy eating. A young mother is wondering how to change the eating habits of her neighbourhood’s children. And some of us have become local support systems to those who are nervous about fasting or changing food habits.
The most important part of being your own healer is that you get to try it out on yourself. You assume responsibility for your body, your mind, your state of health. You experiment and learn from your own experiences. And then, like Ragu and Nisha
, the knowledge and depth of experience builds, and the healing goes spiraling outwards…