Rachel S.

The Kripalu menu reminded me that fresh whole food, when done right, can be delicious and never dreary.

Driving out to Kripalu, I found myself swinging off the Mass. Pike to order a chocolate shake at McDonald’s. I rarely indulge my sweet tooth in such a reckless fashion, yet I had a misconceived notion that Kripalu fare would amount to bland platefuls of kale, tasteless tofu cubes, and little else. It was an act of rebellion. The shake would be my last supper.

I could not have been more wrong about Kripalu food. I knew this one bite into the Vegetable Bolognese my first night at dinner. Over the course of a week, I feasted on healthful whole foods and, to my amazement, never felt deprived. At breakfast, I traded in coffee for Moroccan Mint Tea and replaced sugary baked goods with oatmeal and fresh juice. At lunch, I gobbled down more greens than a rabbit. Thanks to the bountiful salad bar, I concocted a new type of salad each day and never got bored. Dishes like Lemony Lentil Dahl fulfilled my love of ethnic food. And, lo and behold, one day I sampled kale and cauliflower with mustard seeds and went back for seconds.

After slipping into some unhealthful eating habits at home—namely consuming too much sweet and starchy comfort food—the Kripalu menu reminded me that fresh whole food, when done right, can be delicious and never dreary.

Within Kripalu’s thoughtful environment, I also learned how to eat mindfully, for the first time in my life. I ate slowly, savored each bite, and gave a silent thanks to the farmers and cooks who made my meal possible. As a result, I felt fuller faster and the food tasted even better.

Beyond my happy taste buds, I realized that I felt better. At first, I had a few mild headaches from giving up coffee. Yet, within a few days, I started to feel more buoyant. My body was revving up—sans caffeine! My digestion, which can be finicky, started to work like a well-oiled machine. I also felt different at night. As someone who suffers from mild fibromyalgia, I find restful sleep elusive. Yet I was clocking seven or eight hours a night and waking up refreshed.

My week taught me that food is fuel. Kripalu nutritionist Annie B. Kay reinforced this idea by stressing the importance of eating nutrient-dense whole foods packed with vitamins and minerals. Annie also addressed my dietary demon: sugar. Not only is sugar addictive, it creates an inflammatory reaction in the body—hardly ideal for someone with fibromyalgia.

Of course, on the dessert nights at Kripalu, I indulged. And I’m glad I did. I learned that a healthful slice of pumpkin bread is a thousand times more satisfying than a fast-food shake.

And who knew? I actually like kale.

—Rachel S., Somerville, Massachusetts