We have long been told that healthy eating involves plenty of fresh fruit and veg, and not too many calories. Good advice, but along comes Ayurveda, and suddenly things aren’t so simple. This 5,000-year-old Indian system of medicine’s concepts include ‘energies’ and ‘rhythms of the universe’, so those of a scientific disposition might want to turn away now.
In Ayurveda, the human body is made up of five elements: ether, air, fire, water and earth. These are grouped into three doshas, or body types. They are vata, pitta and kapha – or, to be more prosaic: skinny, average-build and on-the-tubby-side. We’re born with varying proportions of all three doshas, but one or two will dominate, and the book will help you find yours.
According to Ayurveda, if your doshas become unbalanced, the digestive system won’t absorb nutrients. As this undigested food sits in the gut, so the story goes, it produces ‘toxins’, or ama. Ama then overflows into the rest of the body and clogs ‘channels’, causing weight gain and hormonal imbalances.
The first third of the book explains all this stuff, with dietary advice and menu plans. The rest of the book is taken up with recipes, and each can be adapted for your body type. All of the recipes sound extremely healthy, and in most cases, simple and tasty.
There are Western as well as Eastern recipes in the book, but the diet still feels rather limited. Pork, beef and lamb are banned, as is alcohol, bread, some vegetables and most saturated fats and oils.
So what about the results? Well, it’s hard to deny that Anjum is looking good on her new regime, so maybe Ayurveda does have something in it.
Published by Quadrille, priced £14.99