The Ayurvedic Diet: A most mindful way to eat

Ayurveda offers a much broader approach that encompasses not only what we eat, but also when and how we eat, including our own state of mind as we eat

When we hear the word “diet,” oftentimes our minds think of a passing fad or some sort of trendy experiment of eliminating general food groups for short-term goals such as weight loss. “Diet” implies restrictions, limitations and a one-size-fits-all mentality. And then we have the exact opposite of this approach in Ayurveda.

Before we get into this ever-popular method, let’s back up a bit. Ayurveda, which comes from the ancient Vedic texts, is in fact, not a diet—especially not in the sense that we use the word today. It’s more of a natural healing science that originated in India more than 5,000 years ago. The word “Ayurveda” is a combination of two Sanskrit words that mean life (Ayur) and science (Veda). The literal translation of Ayurveda is therefore “the science of life.” It is based on the principles of Ayurveda medicine and focuses on balancing different types of energy within your body, which is said to improve health. Still with us so far? Now let’s go deeper…

What is an Ayurveda Diet?

So, again, Ayurveda is a form of holistic medicine that’s focused on promoting balance between body and mind. It approaches the concept of dieting in a very different way: by teaching us to be more mindful about selecting and preparing foods that will best serve each of us on our unique journeys toward better health and pvera;; wellness.

There are five elements according to Ayurveda that make up the universe: vayu (air), jala (water), akash (space), teja (fire) and prithvi (earth), that are believed to form three different doshas, which are defined as types of energy that circulate within your body.

An Ayurvedic diet provides guidelines that encourage mindful eating and consuming foods that are appropriate for your dosha, or constitution type. The energy of each dosha helps determine what to eat to boost health, prevent or manage diseases, and maintain overall health and wellness.

As it takes into consideration how we approach our meals, from our own energy and mindset to the times of day we sit down to eat, the Ayurvedic diet is healthy in a truly holistic way. It takes eating beyond the counting and parsing of calories and individual nutrients, beyond a feeling that eating is almost mechanical, solely to refuel the body. In following an Ayurvedic diet, we are also asked to bring our hearts and our presence each time we sit down to eat.

What’s Your Dosha?

Before you consider following an Ayurvedic diet, you need to learn about your dominant dosha. The ideal method is, obviously, to visit an actual expert who can also advise on the right foods to balance our dosha. A simpler approach, however, is think of your dosha as your most prominent energy. Here are the basics:

  • VATA (air and space): creative, energetic and lively. People with a dominant vata dosha can talk, walk and think fast but get tired easily and may struggle with digestive issues, fatigue or anxiety when out of balance.
  • PITTA (fire and water): intelligent, hard-working and decisive. Pittas are intelligent but can be short tempered, they usually have medium physical builds and may suffer from indigestion, heart disease or high blood pressure.
  • KAPHA (earth and water): naturally calm, grounded and loyal. Kaphas are known for their strength and stamina, are often larger-framed and muscular, and may have issues with weight gain, asthma, depression and diabetes.

What To Eat According To Your Dosha

For Vatas, nourishing foods with moderately heavy texture plus added butter and fat are good for stabilizing their cold and dry dosha. Choose salty, sour and sweet tastes as well as soothing and satisfying foods. Warm milk, cream, butter, warm soups, stews, hot cereals, fresh baked bread, raw nuts and nut butters are good for Vatas. Take a hot tea or a herbal drink with snacks in the late afternoon. Warm drinks or hot water are the best option for Vatas.

As for Pittas, they have better appetites and better digestion as they can withstand the cold better. They can generally eat just about everything but can get into trouble from too much salt, overuse of sour and spicy food, and overeating. Best food for Pittas are cool or warm with moderately heavy textures, a variety of green vegetables and ripe fruits.

And lasty, Kaphas who are associated with water should balance it out with pungent, bitter and astringent foods. Kaphas should avoid dairy, fatty and greasy foods of any kind. Warm, light and dry food is favorable, or cooked light meals. Foods such as romaine lettuce, endive or tonic water are good for stimulating the Kapha appetite, while preferred spices are cumin, fenugreek, sesame seed and turmeric.

Though there are specific guideless for each dosha, the diet as a whole encourages eating whole foods like fruits, vegetable, grains and legumes, which can benefit your health greatly as they are rich in many essential nutrients which might boost weight loss. The diet also minimizes processed foods, which often lack fiber and important vitamins and minerals. In addition to that, mindfulness is another major part of the Ayurvedic diet so you can enhance self-control and promote a healthy relationship with food. So, even if the details still leave you unconvinced, the basic tenets of the Ayurveda approach to healthy eating can definitely be useful.

 

Photography Joe Sabarto
Styling Safina Harys
Grooming Arimbi
Model Khalid Nur Aljaberty/FModels

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