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Thursday, March 21, 2013

“Our Relationship with Food is Dysfunctional” by Manasa Rajan

Our Relationship with Food is Dysfunctional, an article by Manasa Rajan

Manasa Rajan is the Co-founder and Vegan Nutrition Coach at “Cure Yourself With Food”. Cure Yourself With Food promotes healthy food choices to help enhance energy levels, feel and look fresh, and prevent diseases and effects of ageing.

Manasa has been an ethical vegetarian for most of her life as an expression of her love for animals; she embraced the vegan lifestyle two years ago. Her daughter's health condition helped the family make the decision and now, both mother and daughter, who is seven years old, are healthy, happy vegans. As a vegan nutritionist, Manasa’s philosophy is to encourage people to look at their lifestyle and food choices with the goal of ensuring a healthier, younger body, and preventing disease. Manasa is based out of Bangalore and provides consultation/coaching to anyone who is interested. 

The blog is grateful to Manasa Rajan for this valuable guest post. Manasa’s contact details are mentioned below her article.

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It is ironical that the cornerstone of modern medicine as well as ancient wisdom and Ayurveda has been food – “let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”; yet we, for many reasons and many vested interests, have come so far away from it that we have forgotten food is for nourishment, and physical, emotional, and spiritual health and happiness. Culturally, we were taught to respect food and thank God for having received it, we pray to it to nourish and heal us, and calmly eat the freshly prepared food, feel satisfied and satiated. But, where is the reverence and relevance for food in our lives, when we watch television or check our mail while chomping down food, as a chore to get done with? The food itself is full of artificial stimulants, chemicals, preservatives, not really “food” at all. No wonder then that lifestyle diseases are the norm at 40 years, our children reach puberty sooner, are obese, every family we know has someone fighting cancer, heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, Alzheimer's.

So, what do we do? How do we change our food, how do we mend our relationship with it? What do we eat?

Food should be intrinsically nutritive

Food should be full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and of course carbohydrates, protein, fat, fiber, and water. Food should provide energy, protect our organs from degeneration, protect us from disease, help fight stress, and help fight effects of ageing! Fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds or “plant-based foods”, do just that. Incorporating a lot of raw fruits and vegetables, nuts, and sprouted grains and seeds is the best way to ensure we get all the healthful nutrients from our diet, in turn improving our health, reversing disease, signs of ageing, and obesity. It also makes us more energetic, and improves the skin and mental clarity. In cooking, the nutrients get lost due to the heat in the cooking process.

I considered myself a healthy eater even when I was a vegetarian eating dairy. I was fit, lifted weights thrice a week, but I suffered from migraines, which were debilitating and no course of treatment over the years had brought any relief. And then I became a vegan and included a lot of raw food in my diet. Within weeks I felt fresh and light and my migraine disappeared forever!! I have been so lucky to see so many people experience a positive change by adopting the vegan lifestyle.

Manasa's Raw Pea Hummus

A lady in her 50s with high cholesterol, and osteo arthritis and severe pain in her knees was advised by her doctor to eat a dairy rich diet, take calcium supplements and a whole lot of other supplements and painkillers. When she came to me, she was hesitant to go dairy-free but finally did. She also went high on raw food and within three months, her cholesterol levels improved significantly, her calcium levels were normal, and her knees felt significantly less painful; she could now walk 3-4 kms everyday. A man in his 40s with type 2 diabetes was able to reduce his medication by half in three months just by reducing dairy and adding lots of raw fruits and vegetables to his diet. My six year old daughter suddenly developed allergies a few years back with hives on her whole body that were itchy and uncomfortable and we didn't know what caused it. The doctor put her on allergy meds and then stronger allergy meds with steroids, which made her gain weight; however, the hives were still present. We moved to a diet free of dairy, processed food, and sugar. We included clean, high percentage of raw plant-based food and sure enough, her allergies subsided, she could swim, go out in the sun, eat peanuts without any hives now – all of which earlier caused her to break out.

Food should be clean

Apart from being hygienically prepared, what we consume must be free from preservatives, chemicals, artificial colors, stimulants, hydrogenated oil, and as far as possible be organically grown. Processed junk food is exactly what the name suggests – junk! The chemicals in it increase the shelf life and make it more visually appealing and addictive. There are about 3000 chemicals systematically added to our food! Now, to hydrogenated oil otherwise known as trans-fat—cheaper than other oils/fat—increases the shelf life of the food while coating our arteries with fat. Trans fat is present in biscuits, packaged popcorn, and so many other packaged foods! All of the chemicals that we consume get deposited in our body as toxins and cause disease.

Manasa's Raw Energy Bites

Food should not cause disease

Our food should not clog our arteries, be the cause of arthritis, osteoporosis, cancer, or make us obese or depressed! When it comes to the food that makes us sick, there are innumerable lies spread around us for financial benefit – for example, sugar and chemical-filled packaged juice is good for us! We should go on drinking cow's, buffalo's, goat's milk well into our old age for supposed health benefits, when in reality the by products from digesting it reside in our body as toxins and are disease causing. Energy drinks are nothing but a concoction of chemicals that give an artificial high. Meat, which is touted as a great source of protein, is actually not an ideal source for us humans at all and can cause cancer, diabetes, heart disease, autoimmune diseases, and so on.

Food should be freshly prepared and had in the most natural form possible, with the least amount of salt, refined sugar, and oil

Manasa's Spinach & Cherry Tomato Pie
Over cooking, deep frying, over salting are virtually rendering the nutritive benefits of the food useless. Fruits and vegetables are the most nutrient rich in their natural, raw form. Grains and seeds are the most nutrient dense as raw sprouts or micro greens.

When we start eating more raw and lightly cooked food with less salt, sugar, and oil, our taste buds develop, we begin to appreciate the wonderful taste and textures of natural, real food. We are able to efficiently digest our food and absorb the maximum nutrients. We feel more satiated and happy with our food. There are no feelings of guilt attached to eating. Slowly we build a healthy relationship of trust with our bodies and with our food, and we realize that our body is a self-healing organism, with an innate intelligence to guide us and heal us.

To consult Manasa, you can reach her at:

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