‘Ayurvedic eating is good for you, Satwik khana is excellent for your body‘…heard my grandmother say this often, when I was growing up, but of course, it didn’t seem important at the time…However, as I have grown older, the need and the desire to be healthy, suddenly has come to the forefront…So, here I am, summarising all my reading on this topic. Get reading, get healthy!
Ayurveda is based on the principles of three doshas. Doshas are the energies that make up every individual, which perform different physiological functions in the body. The 3 Dosha types are Vata Dosha (Energy that controls bodily functions associated with motion), Pitta Dosha (Energy that controls the body’s metabolic systems) and Kapha Dosha (energy that controls growth in the body and supplies water to all body parts). Each person has all three Doshas, but usually one or two dominate. Various Dosha proportions determine one’s physiological and personality traits, as well as general likes and dislikes.
To get healthy, you have to eat the correct foods in the correct sequence…it’s that easy. Now, lets understand the methods available to find the best foods for you.
Food is considered to be balanced and healthy if it has a good combination of the six Ayurvedic tastes, is tailored to the consumer’s body constitution, and is easily digestible across all age groups. Rasa (also called taste) – is one of the most critical factors in Ayurvedic cooking.
Before we read any further, remember, a good point to remember is: Your doshas can get imbalanced if you allow one rasa to dominate your meal, exclude one totally, or consume them in the wrong combination. So, balancing tastes is imperative. Does this make sense?
There are several diets available for healthy eating but the best news is that the Indian Thali is regarded as one of the finest examples of a meal balanced in all tastes. Made up of rice, dal, vegetables, roti, salad, yoghurt, small amounts of chutney or pickle, and a sweet dish to top it off. The Thali contains all the six tastes in the right combination. When you take your meal, try to follow the right order of eating to make the most of the benefits offered by each rasa. Read here for more information on the correct sequence of eating!
You now have a basic understanding of your Dosha and Rasa (tastes in your meal). Before we go any further, take a break for a few minutes and identify your body type to find out your correct Dosha. Click here (for a pdf version from Anjum Anand, a UK-based chef who propagates Ayurvedic eating) or here for an online test, and get ready to be enlightened!
Ok, so now that you know your body type and hence the dominating doshas, may I suggest that you consult an Ayurvedic specialist before you alter your food intake, just to get your body analysis, your doshas and the food programme absolutely right for you. However, as a rough guide, these are the kinds of food recommended based on the doshas:
Typically, people with Vata dosha should try and include soup, creamy dishes, dal and rice in their diets. They should avoid fried and windy foods (likely to produce intestinal wind). Rice and wheat are good, followed by oats. Also, include the following:
People with Pitta dosha should use ghee or coconut oil for cooking. Go for complex carbohydrates, fruits and juices. Avoid meat and alcohol. Pomegranate juice is fantastic for you (expensive but good!). Also, lots of vegetables as shown below:
People with dominant Kapha dosha should eat vegetarian protein and include bitter and astringent foods in their diets. Avoid dairy and raw salads. Also, dig into these lovely fruits and vegetables below and don’t forget the herbal tea:
There is so much to read and understand, so let me summarise it for you in three easy steps:
Step 1: Find your body type and your dominant doshas
Step 2: Identify the foods that work best for your body type
Step 3: Remember, to enjoy what you eat, include moderate exercise in your daily routine and above all, relax at all times!
You feeling good already? That was the idea. Here is to happy, healthy lives!
Cover photo: via (not strictly ayurvedic, but the fun element of this science, I suppose)