What is the Ayurveda diet?
For those who are unfamiliar, Ayurveda is a centuries-old Hindu system of nutrition and medicine that was developed alongside yoga as the best means to prevent illness and imbalance. Far more a lifestyle than a diet, a famous Ayurvedic saying is, “When diet is wrong, medicine is of no use; When diet is correct, medicine is of no need.”
Now, us Westerners may flinch a little at that statement. After all, Western medicine has had some uses (say, curing polio). But as someone who had a number of hormonal issues after an emergency surgery to remove an ovary during pregnancy, I was intrigued by the lure of self-empowerment. Could I be doing things every day that ward off disease?
Individual diets for individual people
The foods you eat affect your Doshas and their balance in your body and what will suit one person may well affect others differently. A good point to start with is to stick to a diet that favours foods soothing your dominant Dosha. However you don’t have to eliminate anything from your menu, Ayurveda is not about ridiculous dietary regimes, but about guiding principles: Just try eating a bit more of the foods that balance your dominant Dosha (or any other one that is temporarily overstimulated) and a bit less of the foods that don’t. At no cost start to feverishly avoid them – this will only increase your appetite for those foods and suppress the natural cravings of your body for it knows best what it needs at any given time.
Food according to your constitution
Ayurveda offers personalized food guidelines for individual healing processes and constitutions. In this course you will learn more about how to recognize your own constitution and which particular food will suit you best. In case of an imbalance in the dosha(s), however, it may be advisable to choose your food accordingly to balance this particular dosha. Therefore, we always recommend to visit an Ayurveda specialist in pulse diagnosis, who can give you the correct information about your constitution and possible dosha imbalance(s).
Some of the basic Ayurvedic eating practices include:
- Intake of six rasas or tastes. At each meal, you will incorporate foods that are sweet, salty, sour, bitter, pungent and astringent. You begin your meal with foods that have a sweet taste (like sweet fruit), then consume food that is salty (such as seafood) and sour (citrus fruit, for example), then finish with foods that are pungent (like onions or peppers), astringent (such as green apples or tea), and bitter (celery, kale, or green leafy vegetables).
- Eat mindfully and with concentration. Avoid talking, laughter, and other distractions to fully appreciate your meal and the wholesome benefits it provides.
- Eat slowly enough that you can savor the taste of the food.
- Eat quickly enough to prevent the food from getting cold.
- Eat the proper quantity of food. Be aware of hunger signals and signs of fullness to avoid overeating.
- Eat only when your previous meal has been digested. Guidelines suggest that you do not eat within three hours of your previous meal or snack and you should not go without food for more than six hours. Many Ayurvedic practitioners also recommend that you eat a modest breakfast and a larger, satisfying lunch. Dinner may or may not be consumed based on your hunger levels.