Food & Drink

Plant-based cook Radhi Devlukia-Shetty on why she’ll never drink ice cold water

The influencer has released her debut book full of vegan recipes and Ayurveda-inspired wellness advice.

Radhi Devlukia-Shetty
Radhi Devlukia-Shetty

It almost seems like a modern-day given that we’re constantly exhausted – reaching for coffee or sugar to perk us up and keep us going, but wellness influencer and cookery writer Radhi Devlukia-Shetty reckons it can be solved with food.

“If we’re eating foods with almost dormant energy, that actually doesn’t give us the nutrients that we need, of course we’re going to feel tired,” says the 33-year-old.

Coming from a long line of vegetarians, the qualified dietician and wife of monk-turned-life coach and podcaster, Jay Shetty, Devlukia-Shetty says: “‘I don’t drink coffee. I’ve tried to not get into things that that my body becomes reliant on for energy. Because when I do crave sugar, I know it’s a sign that I’m not getting enough of what I need.”

Food, she says, along with our daily habits and thoughts, has the ability to completely transform every aspect of our health.

(Alanna Hale)

“All the food we eat should make us feel energised – that’s what it’s supposed to do, right? Whereas there’s lots of foods that we eat that make us feel lethargic, and gloomy, and feel really heavy inside.”

Devlukia-Shetty turned vegan a decade ago and shares plant-based, nutrient-packed recipes with her 2.3 million Instagram followers – and has just released her first cookbook, JoyFull.

Her famous husband, of the hugely successful podcast On Purpose, is a “guinea pig” for her dishes. “I wouldn’t say he is someone who enjoys being in the kitchen, he’s happy washing dishes. But I don’t really allow him into the kitchen, to be honest!”

Devlukia-Shetty herself hails from Watford, but the couple are based in LA now (“I love a place you can spend a lot of time outdoors”). With Indian parents, the ancient medicine system, Ayurveda, was something she grew up with.

“My mum used to practise so many Ayurvedic practices [but] I hadn’t even heard of the term before. It’s just part of Indian culture that’s been passed down to me through my grandma and my mum.”

Ayurveda translates to ‘the science of life’ in Sanskrit (ayur is life, veda is knowledge) and it’s been around for around five thousand years.

(Alanna Hale)

“Whether it was the use of spices to heal your body, or a ritual of using a tongue scraper, whenever I’d cut myself, my mum wouldn’t put all the plaster on it, she’d put a tumeric patch onto the wound. When I had a cough, she’d use ajwain seeds – spices and hot water – and give that to me.”

She lives by many of the principles of Ayurveda now, having studied it in California, including 5am wake-ups and daily meditation, morning exercise and time for reflection, but incorporates it into her food too. On a very basic level it encourages eating more plants and more spices.

“I became a scientist in the kitchen, experimenting with different spices. Whenever I had a toothache, I would try to use clove oil instead of using medicine that you get from stores. I kind of became my own lab human, where I was just kind of experimenting on myself and really seeing like, what do these practices do for me?”

Different things will work for different people, she explains, but essentially it’s about creating an environment – internally and externally – that is “optimal for you to thrive” in. A lot can be achieved with subtle shifts in our daily routine though.

In her recipes, onion and garlic aren’t on the menu (according to Devlankia-Shetty they cause more harm than good in large quantities – and most of us tend to use them as a flavour base in many dishes). But you will find dishes like walnut-lentil bolognese, tandoori tacos and bombay masala potatoes – some passed down through her family.

One wellbeing hack she has posted about on social media, to a lot of interest online, is giving up cold water.

“Oh my gosh, it’s such a massive difference!” she says. “In the US, iced coffees and ice drinks are so common. When I started drinking more ice drinks, consistently for days on end, I was having a matcha latte every morning with with ice, I noticed my digestion, my energy levels [change].

“I felt more discomfort in my stomach, especially when I was drinking it with my meals, it was uncomfortable.” Although cold water will of course keep you hydrated, according to Ayurveda, it can slow down our digestive systems.

Now, when she’s out, she’ll order room-temperature water instead of cold, and at home drinks “tea non-stop” – herbal or a blend of coriander seeds, cumin seeds and fennel seeds steeped in hot water.

“Genuinely one of the main things that people come up to me about is water,” she says, with a laugh. Once on a hike in the LA hills, a woman climbing below her yelled out to her, ‘Radhi! I drink water the right way because of you!’

But getting in sync with our bodies means getting in sync with nature too. Devlukia-Shetty believes our digestion follows the same timing as the sun and moon. “When the sun is rising, our body is slowly waking up, our digestion is waking up after eight hours of being stagnant. So it’s recommended that you have a small meal in the morning to stoke your digestion, getting it revved up to start eating.

“Then in the afternoon, when the sun is at its highest and strongest, our digestion is at its peak, so it’s recommended to eat a heavy meal in the afternoon, because that’s when our body can really digest it.

“Then as the sun starts coming down in the evening, have a lighter meal before you sleep, you digestion is starting to wind down.”

Doing this, as well as enjoying meals with gratitude and presence of mind, creates what’s called prana or ‘life force’ in the body, she says.

But it’s all about what works for you. “I definitely became out of tune with my body when I started listening to everybody else and what they were doing for theirs.

“I took time to tune back into my own, and that’s when I came back into real health.”


JoyFull: Cook Effortlessly, Eat Freely, Live Radiantly by Radhi Devlukia-Shetty is published in hardback by Thorsons, priced £22. Available now.