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Self Improvement Through Recipes?

21/05/2014 12:07 BST | Updated 20/07/2014 10:59 BST

Eat Right for your Body Type by Anjum Anand from Quadrille Publishing is just the sort of self-improving title that appeals to me. I spotted it in a bookshop and bought it at once. It's both a recipe and a health book because it contains wonderful dishes but also lays out a whole philosophy on how to eat the Ayurvedic way.

Ayurvedic principles can seem a bit complicated but Anjum Anand presents them so clearly and so accessibly. She starts off by explaining that each one of us is made up of three character types - the doshas. The Doshas are:

Vata

Pitta

Kapha

It turns out that every one of us have elements of the three doshas within us, but one usually dominates.

Vata is made up of air and ether and Vata-dominant people are usually of light build, little body fat, very active, restless, quick thinkers, light sleepers, feel the cold and have a tendency to worry.

Pitta is made up of fire and a little water and Pitta-dominant people have a medium build, a hot temperament, a penetrating mind and speech, a good memory, are decisive, have a strong thirst and a tendency towards anger when stressed.

Kapha is made up of earth and water and Kapha-dominant people are usually heavier in build, stable, loving and home-loving, forgive easily, deep sleepers who find it difficult to wake up in the morning and who have a tendency towards depression when stressed.

There is a questionnaire to fill in and, as I suspected, I am two thirds Pitta, and one third Vata with hardly any Kapha at all.

Anjum then proceeds to explain why certain foods are good for certain types.

Vatas need a nourishing and warming diet so plenty of soups, stews, risottos and rice puddings and go easy on the salads.

Pitta types are already fiery so they do not need chilli powder, black pepper, mustard seed or cloves in their diet. They need cooling foods like coconut, melons, dates, pomegranates, barley and lots of green vegetables.

Kapha types need galvanising so pepper, cardamom, cloves, coriander, nutmeg, soy beans, radishes and ginger are good for them. For example curries work well for Kaphas.

Select and eat the right foods for your body type she argues and you will find meals easier to digest, you will get more energy and will sleep better.

As for the recipes they are wonderful: Fragrant Coconut Fish Curry; Grilled Ricotta, Asparagus and Herb Wrap; Moroccan Braised Chicken with Dates and Vegetables and Saffron and Cardamom Rice Creams for pudding. The names alone make you feel enticed. As for the photographs in the book - they make the fruits and vegetables on display look positively erotic.

There is an interesting glossary which lists the foods which the different types should choose to eat or should avoid. Anjum categorises various foods as:

Good for you

Enjoy

Enjoy in moderation

Exercise restraint

Avoid

I love these categories because they are polite but firm!

I recommend this book. It is clear and beautifully presented. And self-improvement as you eat - what's not to like!

My novel THE LIE OF YOU is published by Head of Zeus.