"Growing up, I had a horrible relationship with food. My parents are both the children of World War II survivors, and for them, the process of choosing what to eat was centered around convenience and price. I was never taught to think about nutrition, how food made me feel or what might be good for me. As a result, I became overweight and didn’t feel at home in my body. I felt sick a lot, and in general didn’t have as much energy as I thought I should as a 22 years old.
Over the holidays in 2013, I decided to experiment with eating healthier and incorporating movement into my daily routine to see how it would feel, and it was amazing! I felt so different, and I hadn’t realized before that you could feel good and energized just being in your body. I was drawn to yoga because I loved seeing and feeling the progress that I made over time, so I started to pursue it more seriously through a yoga teacher training program.
During this training, I learned about ayurveda for the first time. As my instructors spoke about different doshas, the ayurvedic term for body types, I was floored to learn that it’s ok to have a different body type than someone else. I had always aspired to be a different (now I know, more vata, in ayurvedic terms) shape -- long and lean -- and that just wasn’t me. To be told “your dosha is kapha, and here are practices and ingredients that will help balance your body’s natural tendencies” was so empowering and revolutionary for me. After that, I started studying Ayurveda and eating foods that were nourishing for my particular dosha, and I felt that I was working with the food instead of against it for the first time in my life. It was so different from dieting, which I had tried many times before and always felt like fitting a square peg into a round hole. Instead, this method of eating and healing accepted me as I was and catered to what I needed.
Ayurveda has since then given me a framework to apply to everything that I’m feeling, experiencing, or working on. When I was diagnosed with alopecia, I turned again to Ayurveda to understand what the disease was illuminating about the imbalances in my body and how I might be able to address them. Ayurveda teaches us to listen to the person, not the disease, and to help people listen to their bodies.
What I learned from studying Ayurveda, and what I want others who are exploring food and healing to hear, is that you have more knowledge than you know. Your body is talking to you all of the time. By taking the time to pause, you can tune in and listen to what it is telling you. Ayurveda gives you the tools to heal yourself and build a relationship with yourself and the world around you. By seeking out the foods that bring balance to your mind, body and spirit, you can start using food as medicine to combat the challenges that life throws in your path."
To learn more about Stephanie and her journey, click here.