Ayurvedic Diet Rules

increases ojas (vitality) or ama (toxicity)

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1)Select Foods for Your Dosha Type

Ayurveda maintains that each person has a unique mind-body constitution, known as a dosha. One’s current doshic imbalance, known as vikruiti, is a combination of two elements that are heightened within the physiology. By eating foods that decrease the heightened elements, harmony can be restored with the body. In general, the following Ayurvedic principles can be applied to selecting and preparing foods for the three doshas:

  • The vata dosha (air and space elements) is by nature cool, dry, light, and rough. Eating foods that counteract those characteristics creates balance. Persons with excess Vata energy will restore balance through foods that are warm (in terms of both temperature and spice), hydrating (such as soups and stews), full of healthy fats (like olive oil, ghee, organic cream, and avocados), and grounding (think dense, healthy comfort foods).
  • The pitta dosha (fire and water elements) tends toward hot, oily, light, and sharp qualities. Therefore, eating foods that are cool (especially in terms of internal cooling such as is seen with peppermint, cucumber, cilantro, and parsley), astringent (beans, legumes, pomegranate, and green tea), substantial, and mild will minimize the aggravation of the Pitta.
  • The kapha dosha (earth and water elements) expresses as heavy, cool, oily, and smooth qualities. Eating foods that are light, warm, dry (like beans and popcorn) and rough (think “roughage” such as vegetables) will have Kapha back in balance in no time.

 

2)Eat Until Satisfied, Not Full

Imagine that your stomach is a gas gauge with numbers from one to ten. On that gauge, the number one is completely empty and ten is overly full. You want to eat when you get to a two and stop when you get to a seven. Eating before you get to a two puts you at risk of interrupting the digestive cycle. Eating past a seven diverts an enormous amount of energy from important physiological tasks.

Aside from the obvious consequence of weight gain, overeating increases free radical production in the body, which in turn speeds the aging process. By setting down the fork when you are satisfied, but not stuffed, you avoid overeating and the body receives the nourishment that it needs without the added burden of digesting, and oftentimes storing, unnecessary calories.

 

3)Include All Six Tastes at Every Meal

Ayurveda recognizes six tastes, each of which communicates a unique combination of energy and information to the physiology. By incorporating each of the six tastes into every meal, the body receives a bio-diverse energetic palate. This energetic palate supplies the body’s cells with instructions specific to one of the taste categories. In general, the six tastes inform the body with the following cellular information:

  1. Sweet: Grounding, strengthening, nourishing
  2. Sour: Cleansing, purifying
  3. Salty: Balancing, regulating
  4. Bitter: Detoxifying, mineralizing
  5. Astringent: Anti-inflammatory, cooling
  6. Pungent: Warming, stimulating

Try to include a small amount of each taste into every meal. It may be only a pinch of salt, a squeeze of lemon, or a slice of pepper but as long as the taste is present, the energetic puzzle will be complete.

 

4)Reduce Ice Cold Foods and Beverages

The inner fire, known as agni, is the digestive power of the physical and energetic body. Agni is similar to a blazing campfire. Ideally functioning, it is hot, bright, and able to digest food, thoughts, emotions, and experiences. To stoke one’s inner fire, it is necessary to avoid dimming agni’s intensity with ice-cold foods and beverages. The agni of all doshas can become depleted if a steady stream of cold food or drinks is consumed. Vata and Kapha doshas, in particular, should lean toward warm foods and teas, while Pitta doshas may enjoy cool (but not frozen) beverages and foods. In this way, the digestive power will remain strong.

 

5)Eat Your Largest Meal of the Day at Lunchtime

Agni is strongest when the sun is highest. By consuming the largest meal of the day at noon, the body is able to use its powerful inner fire to breakdown and assimilate nutrients with less energetic output than at other times of the day. The noon meal is the best time of the day to integrate heavier or difficult-to-digest foods. This is also the most ideal time for a splurge food (think an icy drink or sugary treat). By eating the largest meal at midday, the body remains well supplied with energy throughout the afternoon hours, thus helping to alleviate the “afternoon energy slump.”

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