Do you get confused about what is the right food to eat to prevent diseases? If you have diabetes, do you find yourself receiving a lot of conflicting advice about what to eat and what not? And nothing seems to help?
Every year, SHARAN holds a 21 day retreat for disease reversal in Swaswara, Karnataka and I am privileged to have been a part of these since 2012. Here, many diabetics stabilise their blood sugars, reduce medicines and come off their medications including insulin!
Simply through food… natural, organic, plant-based, whole foods.
This is a system inspired by Dr. Neal Barnard, M.D. from PCRM U.S. and adopted in India by Dr. Nandita Shah of SHARAN. The best part of the programme is that I get to enjoy these glorious, tasty foods.
The main principle of this retreat is that our body and nature can work miracles to heal us if we just let it!
Here are 7 food principles that can help reverse diabetes* and many other diseases like high blood pressure, high cholesterol etc.
1. Fresh Fruits Everyday
Yes, you read it right! We feasted on fresh tropical fruits every morning and whenever anyone wanted to skip a meal and have fruits instead, it was encouraged. Yes, even diabetics could eat unlimited quantities of mangoes, bananas, chickoos, jackfruit practically, ANY fruit.
Since whole fruit has fibre and healthier sugars than refined sugars, these are actually beneficial for everyone because fruits are loaded with vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and anti-oxidants.
2. Raw and semi-cooked salads – Lots of them
We Indians are poor at incorporating a variety of salads into our meals. At this retreat, there are minimum 3 salads served at every lunch and dinner. People are encouraged to load up their plate with salads first. Eat as much as they want and then eat some cooked food if necessary.
The fabulous display and choices of mouthwatering salads had most of us ignoring the cooked section altogether at many a meal! Part of the secret to making raw salads exciting to spend some time to learn some recipes and make them look fabulous!
3. Whole Foods vs. Refined Foods
One of the keys to reversing diabetes is to ditch all the refined foods and substitute them with whole foods. So, at this retreat, we used brown and red rice instead of white, date paste instead of sugar and wholewheat instead of white flour. We also used no oil and used nuts and seeds used for oil to flavour our food int their whole form.
Most of the participants were blown away with how good, fresh and light food can taste without using a single drop of oil!
4. Plant-based vs. Animal Foods
The next most import an key is to avoid animal foods completely! No meat, fish, eggs, honey or dairy! Yes, that means – no milk, butter, cheese, cream, yogurt etc. made from animal milks. And yet, we had all these and more made from plant-based sources. We had peanut curds, chhaach, curd rice, fruit based ice-creams, coconut and peanut flavoured salads and dishes, even a cheese cake made from cashews. The possibilities are endless.
To learn more you can visit the Recipes pages at SHARAN or join us for a cooking class near you or come for our next 21 day retreat. Here is some chickoo ice-cream. Slurrrrp!
5. Millets as indigenous grains vs. wheat or white rice
It is a sad reality that due to over commercialisation of wheat and rice, these 2 grains have overtaken our kitchen and the indigenous grains also called millets have been marginalised. Whereas millets are rich in nutrition, inexpensive and better for the environment as they do not require much irrigation.
Some of the millets we used regularly are: pearl millet (bajra), sorghum (jowar), foxtail millet and finger millet (ragi). Here is a cook making us some millet bhakris or missi rotis.
6. Green Leafy Vegetables
Green leaves are the highest nutrition foods on the planet! The way to incorporate these is in green smoothies, chutneys and salads and we had them all!
7. Organic vs. Pesticide Food
There is data to suggest that the pesticide content of conventionally grown foods can be one of the causes of diabetes. It is also linked to cancer and hormone disruption diseases like thyroid and PCOD. At Swaswara, we enjoyed natural organic foods and found the flavours delicious and unforgettable!
You can find out about our next retreat and more about how to reverse diabetes, by visiting www.sharan-india.org. Please let me know if this article was useful to you.
* Type 2 or adult onset diabetes is the most common food related illness. This system works extremely well to reverse that. It is also found effective in many cases of Type 1 diabetes. For more information contact Dr. Nandita Shah at email@example.com.