Kavita was asthmatic since childhood. She’s a film maker and her work requires her to travel a lot. Since the last few years she also started having digestive issues. She always thought it was due to her work profile, until she attended a natural living workshop conducted by The Health Awareness Centre, Mumbai. She could establish a relationship with her body, she learnt to appreciate body’s intelligence and to provide it what it needs. Her digestive issues & asthma were naturally cured. Here is her story.
49 years, Filmmaker & Co-founder: Quark Workshops
Asthma since childhood
I have been asthmatic ever since I can remember, probably since I was eight years old. Initially, it was a seasonal thing affecting me during change of season, typically during spring or autumn in Delhi. I do remember missing a lot of classes at school due to this ailment. For years, I managed it with homeopathy and later had to resort to inhalers. Like others, I had accepted the fact that you cannot cure asthma but can only try to control it.
Work profile led to digestive issues
In addition to this, I also suffered from digestive problems which left me with bloated tummy every time I had a meal. I had started working when I was 22 years old, as a journalist with Indian Express. Since the last 20 years or so, I’m working as a filmmaker. With this kind of work profile, travel is a given thing. Sleeping hours are erratic and what you eat is all over the place. Initially, when I was younger, my body used to probably cope up better. But as I approached my mid-thirties, this problem started increasing. But I always blamed it on my life style and food habits.
Desire to know the connection between food & health
I happened to discuss my health issues with some close friends. In 2016, they insisted that I must do a workshop conducted by The Health Awareness Centre, Mumbai (THAC).
I decided to take their advice and went to attend the workshop. I was not looking for any treatment for my ailments. I just wanted to explore about good health and possibly bring some changes in my way of living. My reason was very simple. I felt that there was some connection between food & health and for some reason, whatever I was eating was not giving me good health.
I always thought that I controlled my body. But now I learnt that the body has its own mind, it is a super machine with its own intelligence and processes. It has the power to cure itself and that was my biggest learning and also a confidence booster. If I help my body, it will help me back – understanding this helped me establish a relationship with my body.
My relationship with food & my way of looking at food totally changed. I now knew what I was eating, why I was eating it. I stopped impulsive eating as now I understood my body’s needs better.
I understood the “Body Clock” or “Circadian rhythm”, the 24 hour cycle that tells our bodies when to sleep, rise and eat. It also regulates all physiological processes. Of the 24 hours, say 8 hours i.e., from 8 pm in the evening to 4 am, the body is healing and repairing. So ideally, one should not eat in these hours, one should rest and get 8 hours of sleep. Having almonds and nuts before sleeping is good as they would help the body to heal and repair. Next 8 hours, from morning 4 am till 12 pm is body’s cleaning time or waste elimination time. So this is the time when we need to put least load on the body by having light food like fruits. By not having heavy breakfast and grains, one is helping the body in faster clean up. The last part is the nourishment part from noon to 8 pm, that’s the time you eat. But as healthy as possible, less of grains and more of raw food.
Key changes in my food habits & lifestyle
Two major changes I did in my food were that I quit wheat and dairy. I also understood the value of more time for myself and the importance of rest. Now, whenever I am at home and not traveling, I always take out time for 15 minutes to lie down after my meals. My exercising also has become more regular.
I reduced grain intake. Earlier, I used to take grains three times a day but now I take grains just twice. Morning breakfast is now all fruits instead of paranthas, poha, etc. I did a complete cut off on cookies, maida and wheat. Within a month of doing this, all my digestive issues, bloating, stomach-ache, etc. were resolved. Though there was a minor dip in the energy level initially, once I added more fruits and raw vegetables to the diet, that too was taken care of.
I quit milk and milk products altogether. With this, all my issues related to sneezing, running nose and asthma came under control without any medicine. This was very significant and life changing as otherwise every change of season, I would be sneezing and would have lung problems, but all that was gone now! For the last two seasons, I have been good, which is no less than a miracle. My lung power has increased, I can now easily climb, take a flight of stairs vs earlier when I used to pause after ever five stairs.
I added raw vegetable juices to my diet which really helped. I think they are great energy providers. Plus they really help to throw toxins out of the body. They also help you to bounce back quickly. For example, when you come back from a ten-fifteen days of pretty hectic work travel schedule, you consume raw vegetable juices and are soon back into the groove. You suddenly feel nourished and ready for the next haul.
Moving ahead with faith & independence
I still travel a lot for my work. Due to temperature and weather fluctuations, sometimes my asthmatic symptoms get trigerred. But with my new food & lifestyle habits, I can say that I am 90% off inhalers, it is a big change!! When you travel, you have limited control over what you eat, so once in a while if I get a stomach ache, I take homeopathy medicines. But this is also very rare, my first line of defense is always food.
Having reached this far, after 40 years of living with asthma and 15-20 years with digestive issues, is like living a new life altogether, which I never dreamt that I ever could. I am more in-tune with my body’s needs and can nourish it accordingly. I have a deep relationship with my body and am forever in gratitude to it for always working for my good health.
(About Kavita Bahl: Kavita is a filmmaker who works on the issues of environment, human rights, women & marginalised communites. She is a three time National Film Award winner. She founded Quark Workshops in 1996, which conducts training & workshops on photography & film making. In her free time, she loves to drive, travel, listen to music, cook, read and do gardening.)
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