Lisa Cohen is an Ayurvedic Health Practitioner (NAMA certified). She is also a Health Coach, has Level Three Certification in Spiritual PhytoEssencing, a Heart Based Meditation Teacher and is a licensed attorney. Lisa’s passion is to guide people to balance in all parts of their life with joy, compassion and integrity.
A mother of six children, her journey as a Ayurvedic health practitioner was motivated by her desire to raise healthy, balanced children by a mother that felt strong and happy too.
Curejoy got chatting with Lisa to understand her views on “Ayurveda and Nutrition” and why there cannot be a single diet plan that fits all. Read on….
Q: Lisa, can you throw some light on the Preventative ideology of Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is an ancient holistic system of medicine that has been used to treat illness for thousands of years. The focus of Ayurveda is preventative because that is the best way to ensure health and balance. Even modern allopathic medicine prefers to catch illnesses like cancer and cardiovascular disease early because the patient outcome is more successful.
Ayurveda looks to make the whole person healthy, both body and spirit, so a variety of systems are looked at. Specifically, the individual’s constitutional state is the blue print for achieving total health. Each person is born with a constitutional body type, also known as Prakriti or Dosha. However, a person’s imbalanced state, Vikriti, is also part of the bodily constitution. The goal is to bring a person back to a balanced Prakriti so they can live as they were meant to. Ayurveda honors the individual and takes an individualized approach to healing and balance.
Q: Is herbs or diet the main focus area in Ayurvedic care?
Ayurveda does not have one main focus. Rather there are three pillars or systems that need to be working to achieve total health. The three pillars are sleep, digestion, and happy spirit. Since each person is an individual, the type and degree of imbalance will determine which lifestyle changes need implementation. Usually a combination of remedies is used to give the greatest impact. Herbs and diet are a part of many Ayurvedic treatment plans but so is routine, meditation, cleansing and gentle integration. The goal is direction and many things take us to the right destination.
Q: Why is it important to eat as per your Prakriti and Dosha ?
Eating according to one’s Prakriti and Dosha promotes real health. Food is an essential part of any healing process. Food is the building block for the fuel that sustains our body’s functions. When food is chosen based on an individual’s body type, it is suited for that person. The food will be easier to digest and thus sustain the body. Food that goes against one’s type will cause digestive issues like gas, bloating, heartburn or nausea. The nutritional value of the food will be diminished by the struggle of the body to digest it. Additionally, the food may even remain somewhat undigested and remain as waste and toxic build up in the body.
However, it is important to note that the goal of Ayurveda is balance. There are six tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent, and certain tastes are more suited to certain body types. Yet, we still need to incorporate all six tastes in a way that promotes balance. Being severe and eliminating certain types of food will not create health. The Prakriti and Dosha are a road map to guide us, but this must be done in a gentle, conscious manner.
Q: What are the most common diet issues in the American diet?
The most common issues in the American diet are the use of processed, chemical filled food and eating in a rushed unpleasant way. The total eating experience can be divided into three main categories. One, is what you eat and how it is prepared. Two, is how to eat to improve digestion and three is where and when to eat.
When people choose convenience foods, they are using food that will not be good fuel for the body. These foods are hard to digest and can cause toxic build up in the body. This interferes with the first two categories of the eating experience.
When people eat at unscheduled times, in a rush and on the go, this interferes with the second and third categories of eating. Food is not digested well because of the poor manner of eating. We digest experience as well as the food. A body that is always speeding around is stressed and is not in an optimal state to digest the food and experience. Digestion is an important body function that requires strength. The process should be respected.
Q: How important is understanding the role of incompatible foods on our health?
It is important to understand how certain foods are incompatible and their role in our personal health because we will not be living in harmony with our individual body and spirit. This will create imbalance and eventually disease. More importantly, we will not be following the blue print of our unique body and purpose. We will feel unsettled and compare ourselves to others. When we realize that what works for others may be quite different than what is better for us an individual, we have clarity and peace of mind. The incompatible food is just a piece of that understanding.
Q: Does Ayurveda rework on your current diet or forces a complete overhaul?
Ayurveda seeks to balance a person with kindness and understanding. It takes time to get out of balance and it takes time to heal. The process needs to be respected. Additionally, we heal in layers. The steps we take are directional and build on the previous gains. As a person moves into healing, the changes become a way to navigate our health for the long haul. Abrupt change will not bring true, lasting success.
Thank you for an opportunity to connect with the CureJoy community and share some principles of Ayurveda.