With physical and mental issues being affected greatly due to the pandemic, people are having a hard time juggling work and personal lives. One aspect that has been hit the worst is diet. It is no mystery that regular consumption of oily and processed foods will greatly harm the body but there are more intricacies than just skipping these items.
An Ayurvedic diet can help people answer a lot of physical issues by tweaking some ingredients. Ayurvedic colleges in Bhopal such as MAMC and across the country do teach some of these basics of an Ayurvedic diet. For others, keep reading to know more about Ayurvedic diets.
Ayurveda is much more than yoga and taking care of one’s mental and physical health. A major portion of a well-rounded Ayurvedic diet is about the diet. An Ayurvedic diet dictates which foods and spices to eat, when to eat, and how to eat and cook. This is done as per an individual’s dosha and other personal factors. The overall aim is to balance the doshas and make sure the individual is happy and healthy.
Ayurveda also considers how an individual is at a certain point in life to help design the optimal diet plan. For instance, if one has a problem with anxiety or insomnia, one must avoid caffeine and fast food consumption.
An Ayurvedic diet is a lifetime of commitment and takes some time to show changes but it is definitely worth it in the long term. For beginners, the following are some ways to include Ayurveda in our diets.
How to include Ayurveda in diet
Six Tastes: To start bringing about Ayurveda into the everyday diet, one must learn about the tastes. There are six tastes, as per Ayurveda, our diets must reflect each of the six tastes. They are sweet, salty, pungent or spice, bitter and astringent. To be able to taste or rasa, changes the way we experience our food, and also the flavor of the food will change. However, the Ayurvedic meaning of taste is different from the western one. The eastern definition of taste is about making sure the herbs and spices we eat have the right effect on our bodies and we are in balance. Which combination of tastes one must have will depend largely on the imbalances in our doshas bodies, age, environment, and also our constitution. For more details, one must consult with an Ayurvedic expert.
Doshas: The best way to go about an Ayurvedic diet, as a beginner, is to learn about the doshas. Each human being is made of five elements, space, water, earth, fire, and air. When these elements are combined, there arise three doshas, Vata, Kapha, and the Pitta. The doshas, per Ayurveda, determine the mental, emotional, and physiological state of a human being. Vata Dosha must eat warm and moist food like bananas, cooked vegetables, eggs, oats, vegetables, berries, etc, and should avoid raw vegetables, dried fruit, nuts, and cold desserts. Similarly, the Kapha dosha must eat spicy, acidic foods that are filling like whole grains, unprocessed meats, eggs but must avoid heavy food like processed foods. Lastly, the Pitta dosha should eat light, cold foods that energize like non-starchy vegetables and oats, and stay away from potatoes and red meats.
Spices: Spices play a major role in an Ayurvedic diet. Besides flavoring the food, it will also ignite our doshas and keep us in balance. Out metabolic rate or Agni would be ignited and our digestion speeds up. Cumin, for instance, is good for gastrointestinal diseases. It also increases Vata and Pitta while reducing Kapha. Turmeric, the blood purifier also keeps away anaemia and other skin diseases. Eat turmeric to increase Vata and Pitta and reduce Kapha. For bone and joint issues including headaches, coriander is a popularly recommended spice. Mustard seeds treat bruises and respiratory issues like Asafotedia. Some other spices every Ayurvedic kitchen must have are fenugreek seeds, ginger powder, fennel seeds, and cardamom.
The biggest meal of the day: Ayurveda recommends making lunch the biggest meal of the day. As one wakes up, so does the digestive system. The body would not be able to digest a heavy breakfast. By mid-day, the Agni is lit and the system is able to burn anything eaten quickly. This is why lunch must be the heaviest of the day. All other subsequent meals must be light and one must avoid eating after sunset, if possible. This is because later in the day, energy is used only for sleeping and not for any other activities. Eating heavy meals when one’s system is not as active can lead to acidity, bloating, constipation, and also lead to weight gain.
Staples to keep in the kitchen: Some of the best Ayurvedic hospitals in Bhopal besides teaching Ayurvedic medicine and procedures will also teach some staples to keep in the kitchen at all times. These staples will work for all doshas and will fit into all diets and dishes perfectly. Among fresh produce, spinach, pumpkin, beetroot, okra, asparagus, carrots, berries, ginger, garlic can be bought. For protein eggs, legumes, paneer, yogurt, nut milk are good choices. Ghee is also a must-have staple each Ayurvedic kitchen should have. Dry goods, dried fruits, whole grains, whole flour, nuts, cold-pressed oils, raw honey, jaggery, etc can be included in several dishes.
Method of cooking: Ayurveda recognizes that each food or ingredient has its own prana. Prana is a Sanskrit word that means life or breath. Accordingly, one must make sure to preserve the said prana when cooking. Prana is said to be destroyed when food is overcooked or is deep-fried. Modern-day innovations like the microwave and the oven can also lead to prana being destroyed.
To wrap up, other than learning the basics of an Ayurvedic diet, let’s learn how to eat food better. This is also an essential part of many BAMS colleges in Bhopal and across India.
- Avoid cold drinks. Try to consume only room temperature or warm water when required.
- Avoid drinking when eating meals. Doing so will dissolve the necessary acids to break down food and delay digestion.
- One golden rule of Ayurveda is to eat only as much as the food that one can hold with their cupped hands.
- Change fresh and dry produce according to seasons and which are locally grown.
Adopting an Ayurvedic diet is an excellent way to good long-term health. There are quite a few rules to keep in mind but it will become a second habit over time. It will take some effort and research to start an efficient diet that is as per doshas. It is not a bad idea to consult an expert in the same field.