The Ayurvedic diet is a type of diet based upon Ayurveda, an ancient system of medicine originating from Hinduism that dates back over 5000 years. Ayurveda focuses heavily on food as medicine; medicine is not needed if a person eats a healthy diet. A holistic system of medicine, Ayurveda looks at the person’s dosha or body constitution. The 3 major doshas are Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.
The five elements, air, space, fire, water and earth related to the doshas, e.g. Vata (air and space), Pitta (fire and water), and Kapha (water and earth). The doshas have unique characteristics that match both mental and physical traits.
Ayurvedic diets call for fresh, wholesome and organic food, mostly vegetarian in nature. It also emphasizes on eating a light breakfast, heavy lunch, and light dinner, with fruits as snacks in between meals. Timed meals are also extremely important.
Characteristics of Ayurvedic Diet
- Ayurveda promotes eating the right food is a discipline.
- Erratic eating patterns at different times of the day is to be avoided as it can lead to poor health, including being overweight or obese.
- The qualities of the food should be addressed, e.g. texture, consistency, density, volume, etc.
- To maintain optimum health, a person needs to eat accordingly to his or her dosha and age. The digestive fire or agni is associated with the type of food that is consumed, which leads to good bowel movement, a feeling of lightness in the stomach, radiance, and energy. Ama is the term for undigested food, which will affect the agni.
- Common problems that are associated are eating excessively, lethargy, feeling of dullness in the mind, irritability, constipation, bloating and abdominal pain.
- Eat mindfully and with concentration – avoid distractions such as talking
- Eat slowly
- Only eat when your previous meal has been digested – it is recommended you eat within 3 hours of your previous meal or snack and should also not without food for more than 6 hours.
- Incorporate 6 rasas (tastes) into your meal – foods that are sweet, salty, sour, bitter, pungent and astringent. Begin your meal with foods that have a sweet taste (like sweet fruit), then consume food that is salty (such as seafood) and sour (citrus fruit, for example), then finish with foods that are pungent (like onions or peppers), astringent (such as green apples or tea), and bitter (celery, kale, or green leafy vegetables).
1) promotes organic, unrefined and unprocessed foods
2) promotes mindful and positive approach towards eating
3) Emphasizes on health benefits and can be utilized in modern lifestyle
1) May be difficult and complicated with several rules
2) Requires expertise from a trained physician and nutrition specialist
3) Certain herbs can cause negative side effects with patient’s current medication
Dr. Divya L. Selvakumar, PhD, RD
Nutrition Specialist, Registered Dietitian, Professor, Author and Consultant
Founder, CEO – Divine Diets, LLC – www.divinediets.com
Joanna Chiu , Co-Founder, The Wellness Holiday Boutique