You have read about Ayurveda or have benefited from it in some or the other way. You know that Ayurveda is a deep science when it comes to optimum health and vitality. You want to learn more about this ancient system that considers food as primary medicine. You want to know what an Ayurvedic diet really is.
Ayurvedic diet is a traditional diet that dates back to thousands of years. This is an extremely scientific system of a diet based on the constitution of the food and bodies.
It provides guidelines about what to eat, how to eat when to eat and how much to eat.
According to Ayurveda, every person has three vital energies or doshas in the bodies namely, Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.
Due to mental and physical stress, these energies go out of balance and a particular food system is prescribed to get the balance back in the body.
Apart from balancing your energies, a simple Ayurvedic diet can provide you immense benefits like weight loss, more energy, mental clarity, and a peaceful digestive system.
Basic rules of an Ayurvedic diet
Ayurveda not only recommends what to eat, but it also plays a significant role in how to eat and how not to eat.
The ayurvedic diet follows some basic principles irrespective of the doshas.
These rules are the foundations and are applicable to everyone.
These simple practices are total game changers when done regularly.
1. No water with meals
It is one of the first and most basic rules of Ayurveda. No cold drinks or water should be taken with food.
Think of your stomach as a combustion engine. You add coal and burn it to produce energy. But what if every time you try to put it on fire, someone pours water and the fire subdues. Will your engine ever get going?
The same goes for your stomach. The fire that breaks down food is marred when you drink cold water or drinks with food. It takes forever to digest this food.
It hampers digestion. Nutrients go unabsorbed and the food stays longer in the intestine producing toxins.
2. Drink warm water throughout the day
Coldwater is a strict no-no in Ayurveda. Room temperature or slightly warmer than room temperature water is ideal for digestion.
Warm water soothes the system and detoxifies it. Warm water makes absorption and elimination easier for the body.
It also provides hydration and moisture to the skin making it soft and glowing.
3. No raw salad with meals
Salads have a lot of water content and are digested faster than other foods. If you mix the two, the salad will lie longer in the stomach along with the other food.
This will create flatulence and bloating. It is advisable to eat your salad at least 10 minutes before your main meal.
4. No fruits after sunset
Fruits are cooling in nature and have a lot of fluids in them. The best time to eat fruits is in the morning. Your system is fresh, the sun is out and your digestive fire is strong.
At night, the digestive fire starts to fade out and fruits make it even cool. This hampers the digestion of the rest of the food.
5. Sit and drink water sip by sip
Water is to be eaten. Yes, you heard that right. Water should not be gulped in a go.
It should always be taken sip by sip while sitting. Water is properly absorbed in the body only when it is taken slowly.
If you chug glasses of water every day and still feel dehydrated, this might be the reason.
Also, gulping water quickly accumulates a lot of air in the body. this even leads to weight gain.
6. Include oils and fats
Including warming oils and fats is a must in Ayurveda. However, the type of fat should be determined by body type. If you are a Vata, a warming oil like sesame oil and ghee is good.
But if you are mostly Kapha, ghee might not be advisable to you. Include a type of fat to keep your system lubricated and well functioning. But do not overdo it with fried foods.
7. Always sit and eat
Always sit and eat your food. Our fast-paced lives are making way for Quick service restaurants, offering on the go foods.
While we eat to make ourselves full, we rarely enjoy the aroma and the whole act of eating.
Sitting quietly for your meals allows you to eat mindfully and appreciate every bite of your food.
This simple practice also allows you to eat in smaller portions and works well for losing weight.
8. Eat freshly cooked food made with love
Emotions are given a lot of significance in Ayurveda. Food cooked with a happy and loving heart is much more beneficial than any other food.
Eat freshly cut and cooked food only. Fresh foods have a lot of life energy or Prana in them.
This life force is what gives ous nourishment according to Ayurveda. When the food is not fresh, it loses its life force and it will just fill your stomach.
These low nutrient foods will cause a deficiency in the long run. It is recommended to eat freshly cooked food. You can always tell how fresh the food is from its smell and taste.
When to eat?
There are certain rules to follow when it comes to the time of eating in Ayurveda.
The ideal time to eat your breakfast is 8 am. Eat your lunch by 2 and dinner by 8 PM respectively.
Never eat immediately before or after a workout. No food should be taken before bathing.
Bathing cools down your body and hampers digestion. Your stomach gets bloated and it causes flatulence.
You should not go without food for more than 6 hours at a stretch. Ayurveda doesn’t stop you from having a mid-day snack.
A small snack can be taken once or twice based on your metabolism. But the snacks shouldn’t be the size of your meal.
Where to eat?
Find a spot where you sit and eat every day. It prepares your mind to sit in silence and eat. Having a dedicated place like a dining table or on the floor without television is perfect. If you are at work or in a restaurant, find a quiet corner and eat quietly and enjoy every flavour in your food.
How much to eat?
The portion size usually depends upon the person. However, it is not recommended to eat 100% of your appetite. Keeping 20% space available in your stomach makes it easier to digest food and avoid flatulence.
Portions of protein and carbs can be measured using your fist. The meat or fish should not be more than the size of the fist.
What to eat?
Ayurveda considers consuming all six flavours, salty, sweet, bitter, sour, pungent and astringent in every meal. It is only after having these six flavours will our senses feel satiated.
This will eliminate post-meal cravings and you feel full longer.
Also, these flavours have a significant role in maintaining the balance of chemicals inside the body.
A dummy diet
Here I have given a dummy Ayurvedic diet for beginners. This can vary according to your knowledge and location.
Also, Ayurveda recommends eating local food. Do not fall into the prey of eating too much turmeric if that if not locally grown or available.
Finding the right ingredient specific to your region will be a better option.
1. Local and fresh fruits for breakfast. Don’t mix with yoghurt
2. Sandwich with cheese and veggies/meat,
3. Cereals in hot or cold milk
4. Coffee + bread/croissant
5. Fresh Juice
Note* Do not drink juice and coffee together
Salad, meat/fish/veggies/dal/curry, bread/rice, yoghurt*
*Ayurveda does not suggest eating foods that are difficult to digest like meat.
Your body absorbs nutrients at night. So feeding your body warm nourishing food is a great option.
1. Soup/Boiled veggies
2. Noodle soup with a lot of veggies and spices
3. Grilled veggies + chicken/meat/fish
4. Homemade pasta with garlic and ginger
5. Rice + curry/dal
Benefits of an Ayurvedic diet
Ayurveda teaches you to live mindfully and appreciate every bite of food. When you eat mindfully your brain can also process better when your stomach is full.
When you eat good and in peace, your body responds. Eating a well-balanced diet in ideal proportions will help you shed off those extra kilos. The flavours are also well balanced hence it avoids the formation of toxins or flatulence in the body.
Optimum health and energy
When your doshas are in perfect balance, your body is its optimum health. A well balanced ayurvedic diet balances your doshas and improves life force in your body. An increased vital force coupled with balanced energy gives you glowing skin and a great immune system.
Free from diseases
Ayurveda recommends eating fresh food. Foods that have been put in the refrigerator for a long time develop inertia and can lead to weight gain and other disorders. Eating the right food for your imbalances can help you reset your body and health. A strict Ayurvedic diet should be followed by people suffering from lifestyle disorders like diabetes.
When you eat mindfully, your brain becomes quieter. It decreases your overall stress levels too. When the energies are balanced, you stay grounded too. The ayurvedic diet helps you gain mental clarity and improves your decision-making skills as well. Good food coupled with mindfulness provides you with better nutrition and health.
Ayurvedic diet is a very well balanced diet that soothes your body and your mind. Though it might be difficult to eat according to your dosha always. But it gives you a fairly good idea of how and why your body behaves after eating some food.
To know more about your dosha and eating for your dosha, you can read it here. If you have any more questions, write it in the comment box. I will answer all of your queries.
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Comment below and share your story about how you started following Ayurveda, Yoga or natural healing you have learnt anything new about your dosha and how did you balance it.
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Chakshu is a US alliance certified yoga teacher, a biotechnologist and an Ayurveda evangelist. Her passion is to help people live a toxic-free life, emotionally and chemically. She loves reading self-help books. When she is not writing, she is busy thinking about life.