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40 Days to Enlightened Eating

40 Days to Enlightened Eating

Elsie Cantrell's Journey to Optimal Weight, Health, Energy and Vitality

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“In our search to look younger, feel more energetic and become slimmer and healthier, Westerners have tried every new ‘fad’ diet and weight loss scheme ‘du jour.’ And the results… we are fatter and less healthy than ever before in history!” – Elsie Cantrell in her book 40 Days to Enlightened Eating

According to Cantrell, a professional yoga instructor with certification from the White Lotus Institute, modern culture has forgotten how human beings were designed to eat. The results of the Western diet have been weight gain, low energy and poor health. Her own experiences with weight gain and health issues inspired her journey to practice yoga and Ayurvedic healing arts. In 40 Days to Enlightened Eating, Cantrell explains the ancient wisdom of yoga and Ayurveda and how following these practices and eating well is the solution to the Western diet.

Cantrell earned a Master’s degree in education from the University of South Carolina and has received advanced teacher training at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. Cantrell is also a certified Ayurvedic lifestyle counselor through the American Institute of Vedic Studies. She teaches a 40-day class to eating and living well in her hometown of Kohler, Wis.

The diet, nutrition and fitness program outlined in 40 Days to Enlightened Eating does not require dieters to count calories, fat, carbs or points. It does not require people to eat expensive protein bars, take supplements or eat pre-prepared meals or shakes. Instead, individuals will follow the eating habits outlined in ancient Ayurvedic teachings and practice yoga with health and wellness in mind.

Ayurveda originated in India as a healing science more than 5,000 years ago. Translated it means “the science of life.” Ayurveda focuses on restoring and maintaining an individual’s natural state of balance.

Cantrell said her book is not about becoming super model thin, but about finding the optimal, healthy weight and metabolism for each person who follows the plan. These 40 days are not only about losing weight, but about gaining health, energy and vitality.

Each day is a chapter in the book. Each chapter will explain new concepts, and then suggest how to integrate them into the day. The author recommends that individuals should not read ahead in the book because every day should be experienced in the present.

The program lasts 40 days because that is the spiritually prescribed length of time needed to create and maintain new habits. According to Cantrell, it takes 21 days for a new habit to create neuro-pathways in the brain, but 40 days are needed for those pathways to become fixed as a new habit.

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  • Certified yoga and Ayurvedic professional brings experience and expertise to the program
  • The book is an extension of the class Cantrell teaches in Wisconsin
  • The book includes suggested grocery lists, guide to a three-day cleanse, a recipe index, FAQs, ways to save money while eating healthy and food resources
  • The book includes 40 recipes (one per chapter)
  • The book includes a food journal and journaling idea for each day
  • Each day is outlined in a chapter so individuals do not have to read extensive amounts of text in order to follow the program
  • Author is not a medical or exercise science professional
  • Religious and spiritual undertones might be off-putting to some
  • The book does not include meal planning and menus for individuals to create an eating plan
  • The book does not include exercises or fitness routines, except the occasional yoga pose to practice

Diet trends and nutrition programs might lead to weight loss but do so at the expense of energy and health. The 40 Days to Enlightened Eating diet and nutrition program was designed to lighten the body, mind and spirit through eating wholesome, organic foods prescribed by the ancient practice of Ayurveda. The diet and nutrition program focuses on an individual’s awareness of his or her eating habits so the habits can be changed.

While recipes and shopping lists are provided, no food is required by the 40 Days to Enlightened Eating diet and nutrition program. Instead, the author presents organic options (and ways to save money on them) for dieters to choose from, such as:

  • Ezekiel bread
  • Black and brown rice
  • Quinoa
  • Black beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Mung beans
  • Eggs
  • Almonds, peanuts and pecans
  • Poppy, sesame and sunflower seeds
  • Healthy oils, such as olive, coconut and sesame
  • Organic produce (includes which produce can be purchase non-organic)
  • Grass-fed meats, free-range poultry and venison

In addition, the book does not provide meal planning or menus for forty days. Only one recipe is included in each chapter. Individuals who want to follow the diet and nutrition program will have to incorporate their own knowledge of healthful foods and cooking techniques in order to eat for the remainder of the day.


40 Days to Enlightened Eating does not outline a specific fitness routine. However, each day reveals a new yogic or Ayurvedic concept that incorporates bodily health and wellness. Yoga, a sister science to Ayurveda, was developed as a system of physical exercises to maintain wellness and as a system of holistic health and healing.


40 Days to Enlightened Eating is not a traditional diet and fitness program in the Western ideal of weight loss. Instead, the program uses ancient health and wellness strategies developed by yogic and Ayurvedic sages more than 5,000 years ago. The principles outlined in the book are presented day by day and are not recommended to be read in advance, which presents a problem for individuals hoping to learn the diet and fitness techniques presented in each chapter quickly. Dieters will be required to take the program the full 40 days without full disclosure on the entire diet and nutrition program. In addition, the book does not present meal planning and fitness routines for weight loss, which are aspects many dieters expect to be given in a diet book.

Common MisspellingsCommon Misspellings

Forty Days to Enlightened Eating, 40 Days to Enlighted Eating, 40 Days Diet, Elsie Cantrell Diet

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