Eating healthily, the Ayurveda way
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”
This is far from being new, it was said by Hippocrates back in years 400 BC! Eating properly can help cure a number of diseases. The purity of what we eat will not only purify our inner self but also influence our emotions, amazing!
Eating well and mindfully is one solution to a healthy life— according to Ayurveda, and Hippocrates!
Ayurveda says that food, emotional balance, and sleep are the three pillars that support good health.
Ayurveda offers many suggestions about what can be eaten daily, the qualities of different ingredients, and which foods are incompatible.
Ahara Kalpana explains food preparation based on the state of your dosha, your age, and any other conditions like pregnancy or recent recovery from surgery.
Ayurveda recommends specific dietary suggestions for each disease and also lists many foods that can cause disease. For example, taking sour foods, jaggery and curd can cause various skin ailments and chickpeas can cause abdominal distention.
- Every ingredient that goes into your food has its own quality known as Prakriti. Some are heavy, others are light. For example, raw vegetables are heavy and can create a Vata imbalance, while yellow lentils are light and easy to digest. Cold water is heavy and can cause dosha imbalances and disturb digestion, but warm water is light and kindles the digestive fire.
- Processing food can also change its qualities—raw vegetables when cooked become light and easy to digest.
- Certain foods should never be taken together, like yogurt and fruit, or ghee and honey which can lead to the formation of toxins in our bodies.
- What you should eat throughout the year changes with the seasons. In winter it is advised to take more oil and ghee as this can reduce internal and external dryness, balancing the Vata dosha. In winter, as the digestive fire is strong the quantity of food may be increased. In summer, to counteract the heat, incorporate cooling recipes into your diet, while in spring cleansing foods are suggested
- When to eat daily is highly dependent on your overall health. Late-night snacking causes many gastric upsets and disturbs sleep—aim to have a light dinner that finishes by 7:30 – 8 pm is recommended.
- The food you eat should be warm—not overcooked, undercooked, or leftovers.
- Eat your food at a moderate pace—not too fast or too slow.
- Eat to about ¾ of your stomach’s capacity for your biggest meal. This equals the contents of your two cupped hands. Ideally, one-third of your meal should consist of liquid food of a soupy consistency.
- If you like to drink with your meals, it is best to sip a small glass of hot or warm water. Avoid drinking large quantities of liquid right before and within 2 hours of eating.
- Take 100 steps after each meal to help aid digestion and the movement of food through the intestines.
- Eat food with a peaceful mind, anger, and negative thoughts can disturb normal digestion, vitamin absorption, and metabolism.
Dr. Resmi V. Rajagopal, BAMS, MS (Ayurveda Gynec), PGDYN
Dr. Resmi is a versatile Ayurvedic physician from Kerala, India, specializing in women’s health and pregnancy care, therapeutic yoga, and nutrition.