Common Sense and an Ayurveda Diet

photo of smiling man and womanThe word Ayurveda means the knowledge or science of life. Ayurveda is one of the world’s oldest medical systems. It uses knowledge of nature and natural means to promote healing and healthy living.

 Ayurveda  has been practiced in India for some 4000 years and still is the preferred health care system for much of the Indian population. It sure looks like common sense to me to pay attention to a health system that has sustained such a large population for such a long time! And now, with the advent of the information superhighway provided by the Internet, Ayurveda is becoming better known in other parts of the world, too.

Aruvedic concepts about health and disease take a holistic approach that includes massage and spiritually balancing practices as well as the use of herbal compounds and special diets. Today let’s look at what’s behind an Ayurvedic diet.

What is an Ayurveda diet?

Contrary to what you might think, eating an Ayurvedic diet doesn’t mean eating only legumes, rice and vegetables. Basic Ayurveda diet principles can be applied to any diet you prefer. The most important principle in the Ayurvedic Diet is that your food is fresh (without pesticides, additives and other chemicals), seasonal, and as often as possible local. Fresh doesn’t,display of chopped fresh foods on plates however, mean raw. The best food is freshly cooked, whole meals.

If you don’t know what is seasonal in your area, go to your local farmers’ market once a week and buy what everybody seems to be selling (often the cheapest), because that is exactly what is in season. Of course winter in the Midwest is a different story, but this is when well preserved food becomes handy!

Cook with fresh produce and use some of the basic Ayurvedic spices (turmeric, ginger, cumin and coriander) – they are used not only for flavor, but to improve digestion and because of their medicinal properties.

Ayurvedic treatment includes specific, personal diet recommendations

You know there are a lot of diet plans out there. And a lot of people who swear by the wonders one or another can work –for everybody.

But there are also plenty of people who swear they don’t work – for them, anyway!

Ayurveda – and common sense, I think – suggests that we each have a unique body type that needs unique treatment. Ayurveda gives you a dietary path developed for your unique body type (called a dosha) that takes most of the guesswork out of getting healthy.

photo of 2 women and a man walking

Try this quick quiz to identify your body type or (more likely) combination of types.

Use this knowledge as you plan your balancing Ayurvedic diet. The benefits you get will be not only physical – but also contribute to your mental and emotional wellbeing. Ayurveda’s holistic approach to health is an effective ancient solution to our modern-day problems.

Planning an Ayurvedic Meal

Ayurveda has a very holistic-medicine-point of view on diet. It recognizes six tastes and it’s quite important to have all of these 6 tastes in your diet every day. The six tastes, in the order they are digested in your body, are:

  • ·         Sweet – sugar, honey, rice, pasta, milk, etc.
  • ·         Sour – lemons, hard cheese, yogurt, vinegar, etc.
  • ·         Salty – salt, any salty food
  • ·         Spicy – chili peppers, cayenne, ginger, any hot spice
  • ·         Bitter – leafy greens, turmeric, lettuce, etc.
  • ·         Astringent –beans, lentils, pomegranate, etc.  

Sweet gets digested first, so it’s actually a better idea to have a dessert at the beginning, rather than the end of the meal. How is that for an Ayurvedic diet tip!

Salad, on the other hand, takes longer to digest. So it is perfect at the end of the meal. When you have something bitter or astringent at the end of a meal, it actually reduces your desire for sweets.

Including all six tastes in your diet helps you feel satisfied at the end of a meal. When your body is missing something in its daily diet, it often creates cravings. Thinking in terms of the 6 tastes is a great way to put Ayurveda into your lifestyle and improve your health (not to mention a great way to shed some pounds.)

Building your Ayurvedic diet plan           

Tastes and qualities

The tastes and qualities of food are even more important than the individual food items that you eat. If you are a pitta, for example, a sweet orange-flavored food might be good for you but a sour orange-flavored on would not.

So here are the taste and quality recommendations for each dosha (whole body type). The ones that ‘aggravate’ your dosha are already naturally strong aspects of your life. The balancing ones help moderate the more challenging aspects of your body type and lead a more balanced life.

Vata

Tastes and Qualities
that Balance Vata

Tastes and Qualities
that Aggravate Vata

Sweet

Heavy

Pungent

Light

Sour

Oily

Bitter

Dry

Salty

Warm

Astringent

Cold

Pitta

 

Tastes and Qualities
that Balance Pitta

Tastes and Qualities
that Aggravate Pitta

Sweet

Cold

Pungent

Hot

Bitter

Heavy

Sour

Light

Astringent

Dry

Salty

Oily

Kapha

Tastes and Qualities
that Balance Kapha

Tastes and Qualities
that Aggravate Kapha

Pungent

Light

Sweet

Heavy

Bitter

Dry

Sour

Oily

Astringent

Hot

Salty

Cold

Specific food types

I came across a wonderful chart of food guidelines for each Ayurveda body type on the Internet site run by a Clinical Ayurvedic Specialist called Ayurveda-holistic-medicine. You can get it here.

If you’re a do-it-yourselfer, this may be enough to help you start building your own diet plan based on some basic Ayurvedic principles. Still, common sense again suggests you would do well to seek out more knowledge and consult with somebody trained in the Ayurvedic system to get the best benefits.

A Final Note display of colorful spices

Ayurveda includes the use of a variety of herbs and spices that can be purchased from suppliers like
Botanic Choice-Natural Herbal Remedies Since 1910
– a company that has specialized in fresh, organic herbal preparations for years. Check out our CPH-Health Store, too – where you can purchase Ayurvedic spices and books to learn more.

Remember – most of all, Ayurveda is a holistic approach to healthy living. Everything is done with prayers to God. Without divine grace, nothing is possible. The ‘God’ it refers to has nothing to do with being a Hindu, Muslim, a Christian etc. It is simply a staunch faith that there is an infinite power that governs everything. This way, you also open up your consciousness to positive energy and healing.

You can increase the joy, peace and balance in your life by incorporating Ayurveda diet principles in it.


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