When it comes to choosing the right diet to maintain optimum health and wellness, what’s the best way to go about it? Look online, and you will find many international diets promising weight loss and overall wellbeing. But the best diet, it seems, is closer home.
Our forefathers were certainly healthier and more stress-free than you and I are today—and the credit goes to their diet and lifestyle. They followed most of the principles proposed in a typical Ayurvedic diet. Let’s take a closer look at what this diet means, why it works, and how you can follow it.
What Is The Ayurvedic Diet?
Ayurveda simply means “knowledge of life”. It originated in India 4000 years ago. The Ayurvedic diet is an extension of this lifestyle. “The Ayurvedic diet focuses on balance and wellbeing”, says Dr Shrinath Pandya, B.A.M.S., “and when you attain balance, your mind and body will perform at its peak capacity.”
The Foundation Of Ayurvedic Diet
Ayurveda at its core believes that there are three basic doshas or body types – vata, pitta and kapha. Even though everybody consists of all three energies, there are always one or two doshas that overpower the others. To follow an Ayurvedic diet effectively, first and foremost, you need to identify your dosha with the help of an Ayurvedic doctor or an expert. Dr Shrinath adds, “Even if you don’t know your dosha yet, you can follow the principles of Ayurvedic diet to attain optimum health.”
How To Follow The Ayurvedic Diet
1. Eat only natural foods: This is the most crucial rule that the Ayurvedic diet focuses on—eat fresh, natural and locally-sourced foods only. That’s simply because we must stay connected with the ways of the universe and in sync with nature to be healthy and happy. Also, our bodies have the innate intelligence to prefer foods that are closest to nature. It’s best to avoid processed, coloured and artificial foods.
2. Add spices in your diet: Spices don’t just add flavour but they have intense therapeutic value as well, so it’s important to use them wisely and effectively. An ideal Ayurvedic meal should consist of all six flavours so as to feel fully satiated. Be sure to include them in your meal—sweet, sour, salty, bitter, astringent, and pungent. So go ahead and bring out the spice box!
3. Drink clean: Ayurveda urges that you avoid coffee, sugary drinks, teas, alcohol and aerated beverages, as they upset the doshas, which results in you feeling weak and lethargic. Ever experienced that post-caffeine crash? Yup, that. So the next time you’re thirsty, opt for clean, fresh juices and room-temperate water (avoid drinking ice cold water since its upsets the digestive fire).
4. Develop good eating habits: Unlike many other diets, the Ayurvedic diet allows you to be flexible with what you eat. Feel like eating a burger? Sure! Go ahead, but don’t add an aerated beverage or fries on the side. But one rule is important; eating three regular meals at the same time every day, while ensuring that lunch is the heaviest of them all. Why? Because the Ayurvedic cycle is linked closely to the cycle of nature, so eating at the same time every day will sync your body with nature and keep you feeling fit. Also, the digestive fire or agni is the strongest between 1-4 pm and weakest after 6 pm. So eating heavy dinner might disrupt your sleep and burden the digestive track.
Ayurvedic Meal Plan
Dr Shrinath shares an easy sample meal plan to help you get started.
Breakfast: Start with 6 soaked and peeled almonds and one banana. You can also have boiled eggs, poha, idli or upma. Bread is not recommended, since white flour will make you lethargic.
Lunch: Brown rice cooked in 1 teaspoon of ghee, with any vegetable of your choice and one bowl of dal; you can finish the meal with a piece of jaggery. Avoid greasy and cheesy food items.
Dinner: Keep it light and healthy, e.g. homemade vegetable soup.
In the end, no matter what you eat, just remember to listen to your body, your inner fire—take a moment to analyse how you feel after eating a meal. As Ayurveda points out, food should make you happy, so indulge attentively.
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