An interview with Renu Chaudhary, author of Ayurveda to the Rescue
Vinita Kinra: Welcome to GAT, Renu! You knew you were interested in science when you pursued your Bachelor of Science degree from Delhi University. You took that love to the next level when you immigrated to Canada in 1979 and enrolled in Microbiology at the University Of Toronto. When and how did the calling for Ayurveda come?
Renu Chaudhary: In 1980 my studies took a back seat when the role of motherhood became my inspiration. I had always been nutritionally inclined, and became more so with this new responsibility. I made my diet during pregnancy and post pregnancy my first priority. Years later, I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, and that became my turning point to look for holistic options to manage the condition and beat it. This is when my formal studies in holistic nutrition came a full circle and my search for a teacher for this Mother of all healing Modalities, “Ayurveda,” began.
Vinita Kinra: Were you always particular about what food you put in your tummy, or did you embrace holistic health due to any specific reason?
Renu Chaudhary: Yes, very much so, for as long as I can remember. I read numerous books and looked deeply into eating what I had cooked myself from scratch rather than easy readymade fixes the markets offered. I remember vividly my friends’ children saying, “Oh, this aunty makes everything from scratch!” Human body has been my greatest fascination, and to me it is God’s ultimate creation. I respect my body which hosts the amazing mind and spirit, and I did not want to put it in harm’s way.
Vinita Kinra: What according to you are the biggest failings or oversights of the modern diet and how can they be improved upon?
Renu Chaudhary: The biggest failing or oversight according to me comes from the way we have switched gears in our priorities in life lately. The last two decades have seen women join the workforce, and that has completely changed how we cook and eat in these modern times. Simplicity of home cooking has become secondary, whereas in the past, it was a priority. Attentive care is lacking in what comes on our table and goes down our tummies. Making meal times a happy interactive family affair can certainly improve this nutritional deficit.
Vinita Kinra: Could you suggest us a few foods found easily in our pantry or refrigerator that we can include in our daily diet to avoid major health risks in the long run?
Renu Chaudhary: Yes, definitely. Meals should be simple using seasonal vegetables and fruits only. Globalization has made all kinds available year round. Be mindful of what is summer and winter produce. Use fresh salads in summer with grilled meats, vegetables and rice preparations. In winter, fresh soups are best. Making weekly meal plans can help your grocery list. Then rotate your menus alternate weeks. Certain foods are best avoided like sugar and chemical-loaded fizzy beverages, white sugar, white flour, canned goods, margarine, mayonnaise, excess of wheat products. Add more greens, fresh seasonal produce, variety of rice, quinoa, whole oats, homemade ghee, organic extra virgin cold-pressed coconut oil, light olive oils, seed butters and soaked almonds are among the best. Wholesome Nutrition makes for a healthy mind and enlivened spirit. We are worth it!
Vinita Kinra: You are an avid propagator of yoga and meditation. How in your opinion do the ancient Indian techniques of relaxing the body and mind play a role in fostering overall health and wellness?
Renu Chaudhary: Our minds are like a monkey, jumping from one thought to another. Rest and play is the order of nature’s rhythm. We have nights to rest and days to work. By respecting that order, you can reap benefits by performing better at each task. Little discipline in everything goes a long way. Well-rested children who are fed a nutritionally balanced diet on time make for happy adults in the long run. Teach children by your own example. Cultivate quiet sitting time with family each evening. They will thank you for it.
Vinita Kinra: You moved to South America to lead a simple, low-stress life away from the city hustle and bustle. Do you think that stress is the single biggest culprit responsible for triggering life threatening diseases in humans?
Renu Chaudhary: Yes, of course it is. Our desires and needs have lot to do with the stress levels of present day lives. Someone wise once told me that in the rat race of life, we have ended up being a rat, and I see the wisdom in this observation. If we can lead simple lives like our great grandparents, we can manage life better in spite of the modern day hustle and bustle. What is enough, and when it is enough should be decided by us!
Vinita Kinra: Your book, Ayurveda to the Rescue, has an intriguing subtitle, An Ancient Remedy for Modern Ailments. What ancient remedies can be called upon to cure modern ailments, especially Cancer?
Renu Chaudhary: Every disease has both physical and psychological elements to it. Daily introspections are a must to stay close to ourselves in our inner as well as outer world. We have forgotten how we should eat, and that has greatly affected how we process life’s ups and downs. Having no challenge is not what I am preaching. How we move through the challenge is what I am talking here. Nutritional diet gives us a sound foundation. Cancer happens when mind and body are not in alignment, and it is a wakeup call at many levels. It is not a life sentence but a doorway to enter you. Bring all the tastes back into your daily diet and boost your immunity through some wonder foods likes Amalaki, commonly called Amla (Indian gooseberry), fresh ginger and turmeric, to name a few. Two people can have the same diagnosis, but the prognosis can be different. The secret lies in how we move through a diagnosis.
Vinita Kinra: The human palate was designed by God to savour six tastes: sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter and astringent. Do you think modern man has become obsessed with just two tastes: sweet and salty? How does this limitation adversely affect our health?
Renu Chaudhary: Yes, modern man has forgotten the importance of the six tastes, that is the reason why I wrote the book as a reminder. If nature intends six tastes, mathematics is simple when we prefer some and neglect others. Our bodies will lose balance eventually and create dis-ease. Implementing the missing tastes can and will reverse the dis-ease process and help mind and body regain their natural rhythm. Children who eat well-balanced diets do well in school and life. They are our planet’s future, and we must feed them responsibly.
Vinita Kinra: The science of Ayurveda assigns paramount importance to the five elements of every living cell comprising the universe: earth, water, fire, air and ether. How do they synchronize to sustain life?
Renu Chaudhary: the five great elements, namely, earth, water, fire, air and ether are the building blocks of this universe that we are all a part of. Hence, we cannot escape how these elements continuously act and react with each other and form three bio-energies of Vata, Pitta and Kapha. These bio-energies are in everything and everyone. The secret to keep them in a balanced state is the gift Ayurveda offers mankind.
Vinita Kinra: You talk about “Wonder Foods” in your book, Ayurveda to the Rescue. Do you have any plans to bring nature’s ingredients of herbs, fruits, roots, vegetables and spices in the form of a holistic health cook book?
Renu Chaudhary: Wonder foods are nature’s best gifts to us and provide the micro-nutrition to our foods. I would love to give simple tools to follow the principles I have talked about in my book, Ayurveda to the Rescue. So to answer your question, Yes, if the universe allows it, I will be there to honor it. In the World of Abundance, Nutrition is Scarce!