What is an Ayurvedic Diet?
Ayurveda is a term that means “science of life.” It is one of many practices and knowledge which are rooted in the ancient Indian culture (also known as the Vedic culture).
Ayurveda is an alternate medical system and is contemporary to the yogic philosophy. Ayurveda is claimed to be the oldest healing science and it is practiced in the countries of Indian subcontinent (like India and Nepal) to this date. Many Western practitioners have also followed an Ayurvedic practice, with popularity growing in the United States, Canada, Australia, Germany, England, and beyond.
The basic philosophy of Ayurveda focuses on being at a balance with almost everything that surrounds and interacts with us. Ayurveda suggests that good health and well being can be achieved and maintained by seeking out a state of balance in the lifestyle, physical activity, thoughts, emotions and diet.
How to Achieve a “State of Balance” Through a Ayurvedic Diet?
The phrase “state of balance” might seem ambiguous, often because the term “balance” is so loosely and widely defined in the contemporary world.
For the sake of simplicity, consider this an idea that suggests full neutrality and not opting for far extremes with anything. A good example is that we should avoid eating too much spicy and oily food, and extremely sweet foods should also be avoided as in both cases. Too much consumption of a particular “extreme” and our body starts to get affected negatively.
Hence a balance between should be the goal.
Besides the balance and harmony, Ayurveda also lays emphasis on balance between the elements and Doshas.
What Are the Five Ayurvedic Elements?
There are five elements which are essential to Ayurvedic practice. They are as follows:
- Vayu: Air
- Jal: Water
- Akash: Space
- Teja: Fire
- Prithvi: Earth
What are Aruyvedic Doshas?
The Ayurvedic doshas, then, are nothing but combinations of two or more of these aforementioned elements.
There are three such doshas:
- Vata: Space and air elements
- Pitta: Fire and water elements
- Kapha: Earth and water elements
According to Ayurveda, these doshas work together to govern the various processes in our body and perform different functions. Although each one of us has all three of these doshas working in us, one dosha is believed to be more dominant than others.
If there is an imbalance between these doshas in our bodies, then Ayurvedic teachings suggest that illness and disease will prevail.
Balancing Doshas Through Ayurvedic Diet
As per the Ayurveda, balance and harmony in every aspect of our lives is important as it results in a well being of body and mind. It talks about elements and doshas and how their imbalance can cause illness.
One thing that affects these doshas more than any other aspect is what we eat.
Yes, diet is believed to be the most important aspect that affects how the doshas in our bodies are working.
For those skeptical about the accuracy or validity of a system dating back thousands of years, however, keep this in mind: the same sentiment is in accordance with what many modern, mainstream nutritionists also state.
What we eat is what we become.
The ayurvedic approach to a diet (or the ayurvedic diet), then, is a form of personalized diet that mainly depend on what dosha type your body is and whether you are having any problem related to your dosha or not.
However, if you are looking for a general Ayurvedic diet, it is crucial that you choose such that it maintains and balances all three of the doshas. Such a diet would include a concoction of the following:
- Grains: Including barley, cooked rice, wheat, basmati rice, corn, and millet
- Dairy Products: Including eggs and cheeses
- Legumes: Including lentils, kidney and black beans, and chickpeas
- Dry and Seasonal Fruits
Another important aspect of any Ayurvedic diet is the use of herbs and spices and they are always suggested to be used in moderation. Much as it is with overly sweet foods, overuse of any herb or spice is likely to cause dosha imbalance.
A Note on Challenges and Benefits
Another important note to consider: processed food and packaged food is not promoted in any Ayurvedic diet and it should be avoided. That means your favorite chips, candy bars, and store-bought ice creams are not going to fit in with an Ayurvedic diet.
There are many advantages of an Ayurvedic die, however, that might make giving up the junk a bit easier.
The first and foremost positiveof any ayurvedic diet is that it is a great way to maintain a healthy weight.
Since the Ayurvedic diet is personalized, it helps practitioners lose extra fat and maintain a healthy body mass. Of course to lose fat, some or other form of physical activity is always recommended as well.
For many, yoga can be adopted in the daily lifestyle to boost the benefits of Ayurvedic diet. The intake of nutritious, fiber rich and healthy food, coupled with practice of yoga, promotes what is generally considered a healthy and balanced lifestyle, especially when compared to the normal “Western” lifestyle and diet.