Ayurvedic nutrition and diet

An Ayurvedic diet is an eating plan that provides guidelines for when you eat and what you eat to boost your health, prevent or manage disease, and maintain wellness.

What you eat and drink doesn’t just impact your weight and overall health. It also affects brain function and emotional wellness.

An Ayurvedic diet is a holistic approach to helping you maintain an optimal mind-body balance.

What Is an Ayurvedic Diet?

Ayurveda is based on the concept that disease comes from an imbalance in specific energy types, known as doshas. When your doshas are unbalanced, illness, cognitive issues, and emotional issues may occur.

There are three types of doshas.

  • Vata: Energy that controls autonomic bodily functions associated with movement like heartbeat, breathing, blinking, and circulation. Balanced Vatta leads to creativity and vitality. When Vata is unbalanced, anxiety and worry often result

  • Pitta: Energy that controls metabolic functions like digestion, absorption, and body temperature. Balanced Pitta causes contentment and intelligence. Unbalanced Pitta may result in anger and ulcers

  • Kapha: Energy that controls growth. Balanced Kapha leads to love and forgiveness. Unbalanced Kapha triggers insecurity and envy.

 

All three dosha types are present in everyone. However, at least one is dominant. Eating foods that support your dominant dosha helps keep your mind and body in balance.

An Ayurvedic diet focuses on eating foods that support your dominant dosha, and minimising your intake of foods that cause it to be out of balance.

The Six Tastes

Ayurveda recognises six tastes, and suggests enjoying all of them at every meal:

  • Sweet: grains, pasta, bread, rice, starches, dairy, meat, chicken, sugar, honey, and molasses

  • Salty: salt, soy sauce, salted meats, fish

  • Sour: citrus, berries, tomatoes, pickled foods, alcohol

  • Pungent: peppers, chilies, onions, garlic, cayenne, black pepper, ginger, cloves, mustard, salsa

  • Bitter: leafy vegetables, green and yellow vegetables, kale, celery, broccoli, sprouts, beets

  • Astringent: lentils, dried beans, apples, pomegranates, tea, cauliflower

 

Eating for Your Dosha Type

Each taste impacts your doshas. If a dosha is out of balance, you should eat more or less of a specific taste.

If Vata is dominant and out of balance, you may find yourself skipping meals, experiencing unintended weight loss, and having digestive issues. To balance Vata, you should:

  • eat foods that taste sweet, salty, and sour

  • eat foods that are oily, heavy, and warm

  • avoid cold and raw foods

  • eat basil, bay, cinnamon, citrus, frankincense, cloves, lavender, vanilla, sage, and pine

 

If Pitta is dominant and out of balance, the results may be ulcers, heartburn, high blood pressure, and inflammation in the body. You may become angry and irritable. To balance Pitta:

  • eat sweet, bitter, and astringent tasting foods

  • avoid hot and spicy foods

  • add sandalwood, jasmine, mint, lavender, fennel, and chamomile to your diet

 

If Kapha is dominant and out of balance, you may retain fluid, gain weight, and develop allergies. Emotionally, you may become stubborn, be resistant to change, and hold on to unhealthy behaviors and relationships. To balance Kapha:

  • eat foods that taste pungent, bitter, and astringent

  • avoid heavy foods, salt, and dairy

  • add stimulating herbs to your diet such as cloves, juniper, marjoram, and cinnamon

 

The Three Gunas

According to Ayurveda all foods have qualities that affect the mind and body. It’s not just the food itself that determines its guna, but also how it’s prepared:

  • Sattva: Fruits and vegetables, ghee, milk, and legumes bring balance and calm, and promote a clear mind. They are easily digestible, fresh and clean (contain no artificial ingredients or preservatives), and made with love and peace. Sattva foods should be your diet foundation.

  • Rajas: Fiery foods which support energy and determination. They include garlic, caffeine, eggs, meat, alcohol, fried foods, overcooked foods, or fermented and fresh-canned foods. Rajas foods may be prepared with anger or passion. Eat these foods as needed for passion and drive.

  • Tamas: Onions, mushrooms, meats, microwaved foods, frozen foods, and foods made with disinterest are negative and promote lethargy, depression, and murderous or suicidal intentions. These foods should be reduced in your diet or eliminated.

 

General Ayurvedic Diet Tips

The Ayurvedic diet is based on eating to keep your dominant dosha in balance for optimal physical and mental health. Keep in mind that doshas other than your dominant one may also become imbalanced. At that point, you should eat foods to help balance that specific dosha.

 

This does not mean you can not have a treat or eat food that are not your dominant dosha type, but these foods should be eaten occasionally.

There are general fundamental guidelines to follow on the Ayurvedic diet:

  • Eat fresh, organic foods as much as possible.

  • Eat warm, freshly cooked foods. Do not microwave foods.

  • Avoid processed foods including canned, frozen, and genetically engineered foods.

  • Avoid refined flours and sugars.

  • Avoid artificial flavors, preservatives, and colorings.

  • Cook foods gradually, over low heat.

  • Eat until you are full and don’t skip meals.

  • Eat around the same time each day.

  • Breakfast and dinner should be light meals, and lunch should be the largest meal of the day and consist of plenty of protein.

  • Chew your food slowly and thoroughly.

  • Don’t drink cold beverages with your meal, and sip warm or room temperature drinks such as herbal tea or water.

  • Take a brief walk after every meal.

 

An Ayurvedic diet is more a healthy way to eat than a diet in that it avoids processed foods and promotes clean eating and doesn’t rely on counting calorie and restricting foods.

 
If you follow an Ayurvedic diet, you'll eat primarily whole foods and practice mindful eating.
Examples of Ayurvedic foods:
  • Lemons -  are both purifying and nourishing, and they stimulate the digestion

  • Ghee (clarified butter) - among the best rejuvenating and longevity-promoting foods

  • Dates and Figs - a great source of energy and helps to re-build bodily tissues

  • Almonds - these are nourishing, increases strength and energy (with the skins peeled off)

  • Mung Beans - aids digestion

  • Ginger - promotes good digestion

  • Cumin Seeds - removes toxins from the body and aids digestion

  • Green leafy vegetables -  are both nutritive and purifying, stimulates the liver, helps balance blood sugar, and aids skin condition

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