5 Ayurvedic Diet Tips for Beginners

5 Ayurvedic Diet Tips for Beginners

“How many times do I have to tell you to sit properly with your legs folded when you are eating? This constrains your stomach and ensures you don’t overeat”, my 80-year-old grandmother said.

“Yes, Granny”, I replied rolling my eyes.

“You keep saying yes, but never listen. See, even now you are eating so hastily. Food doesn't digest properly if you eat this way, so anxious and always in a hurry. And then you people keep complaining that you have gained extra pounds! Obviously, you will,” Granny said.

“Bye Granny, I got to leave. Love you”, I said, as I crammed the last morsel in my mouth and hurriedly got up to leave. I was already late and a food lecture was definitely the last thing I needed. In any case, the office also had a seminar on ‘Food and Well Being’ today. So I saved my energy for then.

As I entered the seminar room, the standees caught my attention.

“Food and Well Being – The Ayurvedic Way”.

“Ayurvedic Tips for losing weight”

“Eat, and still lose weight with Ayurveda”

The losing weight bit aroused my interest because as my Granny said, I did have some extra flesh on me and if I could lose it without starving, nothing could be better. Excited, I sat down as the lights dimmed and got ready to learn something I didn’t know.

What is Ayurveda?

Ayurveda is a science of holistic living and well being which is more than 5000 years old. The meaning of Ayurveda in Sanskrit is “The Science of Life”. This ancient wisdom is built on the belief that everything in the universe is relative to each other. It propagates complete wellness and health as the harmony between mind, body, and soul. Each of these should be in sync to live a content and healthy life.

As per Ayurveda, life and every matter present in the universe is made up of the Panchamahabhoota, namely, the Earth, Water, Air, Fire, and Ether. Each being, including the human body, is made of these Panchamahabhootas, albeit in different proportions. Every Panchamahabhoota resonates with one of the five senses.

Mahabhoota

Dominant Sense

Akasha (Ether)

Shabda (Sound)

Agni (Fire)

Rupa (Vision)

Vayu (Air)

Sparsh (Touch)

Prithvi (Earth)

Gandha (Smell)

Jala (Water)

Rasa (Taste)

Panchamahabhootas are the basis of life. Ayurveda strongly believes that these Panchamahabhootas, further denoted by the Doshas, have to be in sync in the body and around to live a life free of diseases.

Tridosha (Three types of Dosha)

Tridosha or the three Doshas determine the prakriti (constitution) of the body. To ensure good health, it is important to keep all the three dosha balanced. Any imbalance may lead to illness. The prakriti of the body is determined at the time of the birth of the individual and remains the same throughout his lifetime. These three doshas are made up of the five elements and are known as Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.

  • Vata brings together Air and Ether
  • Pitta brings together Fire and Water
  • Kapha brings together Earth and Water

Whatever we eat or drink, either harmonises the dosha or aggravates it. An Ayurvedic food list has been suggested to balance the dosha and keep the body healthy. It considers a lot of other factors apart from the traits of the dosha like the origin of food, season, form in which to be eaten, etc. Each ayurvedic diet prescribed is specific to the predominant dosha in the body.

The Pitta Dosha Diet: Pitta, which merges Fire and Water is responsible for all the metabolic processes in the body. It also maintains hormonal balance.To pacify Pitta dosha, Pitta dosha diet is recommended.The Pitta dosha diet typically consists of sweet, bitter, and astringent tastes. Ghee and cooling foods are excellent to balance Pitta. Buckwheat, millet, and corn are best avoided. Pungent, sour along with excessively hot food should be avoided.

The Vata Dosha Diet: If you are experiencing constipation, gas, nervousness, anxiety, bloating, your Vata is out of balance. Hence, basic hot meals to be eaten at regular intervals is what is advised to them. Freshly cooked meals which are warm and nourishing are the best for them. Cold food or drinks should be avoided. The important mantra is to have 3-4 small meals each spread over a couple of hours.

The Kapha Dosha Diet: Kapha dosha is the meeting point of the Earth and Water. It lacks warmth, hence to balance that the fire element is introduced into meals. Food that tastes bitter, astringent or pungent pacifies Kapha along with the hot spices. The fire is the strongest when the sun is at its glory, i.e., around noon. Hence people with the Kapha dosha should eat the heaviest meal of the day at noon as it aids maximum absorption of nutrients and proper digestion.

And finally what I had been waiting for all this while - diet tips for beginners, the Ayurvedic way!

Ayurvedic Diet Tips for Beginners

Vocal for Local

Ayurveda strongly believes in eating food that is fresh. This obviously cannot include food which has traveled thousands of kilometers to reach you. Hence, eat food which is local to you. Preserved food, processed food, frozen foods are all storehouses of illness. Stale food is an absolute no. Its nutrient properties are almost nil. It will not be an exaggeration to say that such foods fill your stomach just like garbage fills a dustbin. In fact, Ayurveda recommends eating cooked food within 45-48 minutes of cooking. The maximum time frame for storing food is 3 hours, post which it is considered stale.

A study conducted by the University of California showed that most vegetables lost 15% to 55% of their Vitamin C content within a week of harvest. In fact, 90% is lost within 24 hours in some varieties of spinach!

Ayurveda has been propagating fresh home-cooked food prepared from fresh produce since time immemorial. Hence look out for your seasonal produce available locally. Source your grocery locally and don’t store it for a long durations.

Be Flavorful

Instead of the western principle of watching calories or portion sizes, Ayurveda insists on making sure to include all the six rasas (flavors) of food – sweet, sour, salty, bitter, astringent and pungent. It says, if a body is deprived of any one of the tastes it will lead to an imbalance in the doshas. Hence it is important to satiate the body in order to avoid craving followed by reckless eating leading to weight gain. Ensuring a mix of textures and tastes enables the body to get a healthy spread of nutrients.

Warm Water

Our body accumulates toxins due to pollution or the kind of food we eat. Warm water is said to dissolve the impurities and eliminate waste. Sipping warm water throughout the day is an excellent aid to weight loss. You can drink warm water first thing in the morning on an empty stomach to cleanse the internal system of the toxins and improve digestion. This also gives a much needed natural boost to your metabolism. A healthy metabolism leads to a healthy body.

Beauty Sleep

It cannot be stressed enough how important sleep is. In fact, it is not important- it is VITAL for good health and especially weight management. A consistent sleep routine and sound sleep are the basis of a calm n stress-free mind. The body repairs itself during night time. Hence one should give the much-needed time to the body to do its job. The best time to sleep is before 10 PM. Sleep is such an important factor in maintaining the overall health of our body that Ayurveda classifies it as one of the three pillars of life. It is as important for survival as food is. Incorporate sole massage in your sleep routine. It is immensely beneficial in inducing sleep.

Eat an early dinner, Exercise calm and mindfulness

Ayurveda advises eating three meals a day at or around the same time. It is best to have an early dinner as the digestive fire ebbs in the evening. The digestive system works best when food is eaten with a sense of calmness and ease. So, while we are adept at multitasking, it is better to give the food the attention it deserves for the betterment of our own health. Take cues from the body as to what to eat and most importantly when to stop. Exercise mindfulness while eating so as not to burden the internal functions with an overload of food. Eat a little less so as to keep 1/4th of the stomach empty.

You are what you eat. You eat unhealthy, you feel unhealthy. You eat wholesome nutritious meals, you feel light and energized. As the lecture wrapped up, I kept thinking of my Granny and I promised to correct myself and start eating food the Ayurvedic way!  

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