“Let the food be thy medicine, and thy medicine be your food” Ayurveda
Many people believe they eat healthy but to the question … What did you eat today? Many times the answer is far from healthy…I had a tuna salad… others might say: since I was not hungry I had a snackbar…many others would reply: as I am usually very tired when I arrive home i eat frozen dinners at least twice a week… Some others might reply: Since I’m on a diet I had a bit of fruit and yogurt for dinner…
Ayurveda encourages us to broaden the concept of “healthy eating”, reminding us that food is medicine, we are what we eat and what we are able to digest. How to choose the perfect menú for me? See below few tips:
Ayurveda tips for healthy eating
Ayurveda means “The Science of Life” and it is not only the traditional medicine from India, but a complete lifestyle to maintain health and happiness. Ayurveda emphasizes on three basic health pillars, being the nutrition “Aahar” one of them because the food nourishes the body, mind and soul.
According to Ayurveda we are made up from the 5 elements (space, air, fire, wáter and earth) which manifest in three Doshas (vata, pitta and kapha). Our body type or Prakruti, our digestive fire, our feelings, our emotional world depends on these doshas.
“Ayurveda does not require being vegan or vegetarian”
I myself was reluctant to study Ayurveda because I didn’t want to be “forced” to become vegetarian. In fact, many of my patients the first thing they ask me is: Should I have to stop eating meat or fish if I follow Ayurveda Diet? NOT AT ALL. You can eat a healthy diet including animal source food. The main thing here is to think about What? When? For Whom?
Top 9 Ayurveda tips for healthy eating!
1) Knowing your Ayurvedic constitution is a must!
Each one of us has a unique Ayurvedic constitution, which is determined by the predominant Dosha and guides the way to a lifestyle and diet that suits you best. For this reason, some people may not tolerate tomatoes, for example, and others may just love them. Same thing with spicy food for example. The science behind this is explained through the 5 elements and 3 doshas ayurvedic theory.
To know your Ayurveda constitution, I advise you to be advised by a specialized therapist since it requires an in-depth analysis: analysis of the pulse, the tongue, the nails and your physical, mental and emotional characteristics.
2) Your stomach, as your life, needs some free space.
Most of us eat too much. The fast pace of life, arriving too late at home, stressed out, associating the plate with emotional relief … all this makes us eat too much.
Your stomach needs, like you, its space. The trick is to eat until your stomach is 2/3 full, leaving 1/3 empty. If you eat too much can lead you of course to overweight and also to drain massive energy, which in turn makes your tired body produce free radicals, more oxidation, more premature aging.
Breath before eating. Make sure you chew. You feel thankful. Feel the taste. Connect with the food.
3) Eat with the sun
We may all eat in sync with our body clock since our digestive fire (Agni) follows the rhythm of the sun. When the sun is strongest (noon) our digestive fire is more powerful, for this reason according to Ayurveda, breakfast and lunch should be our biggest meals. Otherwise, agni may get weakened, leading to a poor digestion and as such accumulation of gases and toxins in the body.
“Eating for a limited amount of time per day gives all the cells in the body time to rest,” Prof Heilbronn says. Aim to eat about one to two hours from when you get up, and aim to have dinner at least 2 hours before going to bed.
4) Include all 6 tastes, finishing with astringent food
Ayurveda recognizes the importance of taste in our physiology, health and well-being. In many ways, taste is a living representation of experience, each taste connect to an element of the nature, to an emotion, to a vital role in our body…
- Sweet: Element earth and water. Nourishes, calms down and grounding. Eg: Cereals, Root vegetables.
- Salty: Element wáter and fire. Transforms, activates. Eg: Miso, cheese, pickles.
- Sour: Element fire and earth. Cleans, stimulates. Eg: Cítrus fruits, Yogourt.
- Spicy: Element fire and air. For weight-loss, antidepresant. Eg: Peppers, Ginger.
- Bitter: Element space and air. Detox, de-parasite, anti-infective. Eg: Brocoli, celery.
- Astringent: Element earth and air. Heals, absorbs. Eg: pomegranate.
Ayurveda advices to avoid Dessert. Eating sweet slows down digestion.
5) While eating, just eat
It may seem obvious, but it is not. How many times do we eat while looking at our phone, Netflix or even working?
Eating “mindfully” is medicine. Is being present while eating, connecting with taste, enjoying and appreciating food. Practising eating more mindfully is something that we can all benefit from.
Avoid distractions and most importantly…If you are angry, please don’t eat.
6) Correct food combining for a better digestion
Correct food combinations enhance or weakens your diigestive power. It has been demonstrated that food items may demand different digestive environments separately. If we don´t respect it we might end up feeling bloated and heavy.
FORGET ABOUT mixing fruit and yogourt, chicken with rice or even sushi, if you want to respect ayurvedic principles for a better digestion.
7) Moderate drinking
No, I’m not talking about alcohol. Research shows that sipping a little water during meals isn’t a cause for concern but drinking a glass or two may interfere with digestion.
Therefore, to eat the ayurvedic way we should AVOID drinking with beer, iced water, soft drinks, juices or big quantity of water.
Sipping hot wáter while eating or ginger tea can aid digestion.
Tip! If you are having lentils, you can add a dash of lemon to your drink to better assimilate the iron.
8) Spice up your food
Spices come with many health benefiting properties besides giving aromatic flavours to your food. Which ones do I recommend?
Cumin, for gas and bloating
Black pepper, to burn toxins
Turmeric, reduces pain and prevents from infection
If you aim to boost your immunity or if you need love, add few strands of saffron.
9) Eat seasonal food
The closer we are to nature, the better off we’ll be.
Each season brings with it an increase or imbalance in a given Dosha, so our diet has to be based on seasonal products to help us counteract the effects of each season.
Seasonal food: It’s better for your health, for the environment, for your wallet and it tastes better.
“Let your medicine be your food, and food your medicine” this sentence describes in a nutshell the principle of Ayurveda Diet. I hope these tips help you eat better every day, connecting to your gut and to the taste of the food, which is, at the end of the day, your medicinal source.