Ayurvedic Diet Plan is a set of personalized guidelines that directs an individual on how to eat, what to eat, and when to eat to boost physical as well as mental well-being. There are profound benefits of an Ayurvedic diet like- good digestion, weight loss, and preventing diseases. Ayurveda diet derives its principles from the age-old Ayurvedic medicine that primarily focuses on balancing different types of energies in the body to promote good health.
In this article, we will review how to choose your Ayurvedic diet, what to expect, the benefits, downsides, and more.
- Background – What is Ayurvedic Diet?
- Ayurvedic Diet – How does it work?
- Balancing the different Doshas
- Various Benefits of Ayurvedic Diet
- Encourages mindful eating habits
- Potential weight loss
- Promotes eating unprocessed foods
- Balances various energies in the body
- Ayurvedic Food Boosts Immunity
- Improved digestion and bowel movements
- Ayurvedic Food Promotes Overall Healing
- Editor’s Note
- FAQs regarding Ayurvedic Diet
- COVID-19 Update | Ayurvedic Diet
Background – What is Ayurvedic Diet?
“Ayurveda” is an ancient wellness practice that has been around for 5,000 years. It originated in India. The word ‘Ayurveda’ is a combination of Sanskrit words: ‘Ayur’ meaning ‘Life’ and ‘Veda’ meaning ‘Science.’ In other words, it literally translates to ‘Science of Life.’
According to Ayurveda, there are five natural elements, namely:
That is to say, there are three types of energies in our body that are related to these natural elements:
- Vata – (air + space)
- Pitta – (fire + water)
- Kapha – (earth + water)
In other words, these three energies are known as Dosha in the Ayurvedic diet. The first step to embark on an appropriate Ayurvedic diet is to identify your dosha. One is suggested to plan his diet according to the most prominent dosha in his body. Let us now understand how this works.
“When diet is wrong, medicine is of no use. When diet is correct, medicine is of no need.”-Ayurvedic Proverb
Ayurvedic Diet – How does it work?
Every individual is composed of a unique combination of these energies based on their physical, mental, and emotional attributes. The idea is to maintain a balance between these three doshas to promote healthy living.
An Ayurvedic diet plan embodies all the three doshas into eating habits. Therefore, you should start by identifying your dominant dosha and plan your meals in accordance with them to balance your energies and nourish your body.
Visit an Ayurvedic doctor for help or you can also try some online questionnaires but they are not always accurate.
Check out this link by The Ayurveda Institute which includes a list of suggested foods for each type of dosha.
Balancing the different Doshas
Vata is considered to be dry, cold, and light by nature. People having this dosha predominantly, are usually prone to falling sick during changing seasons. They are susceptible to diseases involving the principle of air, namely, pneumonia, asthma, emphysema, flu.
To counteract and balance the effect of Vata energy involves eating meals that are warm, hydrating, and contains healthy fats.
Guidelines to balance Vata:
- Avoid extreme weather conditions.
- Maintain regularity in meals and consume in small portions.
- Astringent fruits should be avoided.
- Legumes are difficult to digest and should be taken in limited quantities.
- Keep consumption of sugar and also caffeine moderate.
- Meditating also pacifies Vata dosha.
- Avoid cold and frozen foods.
- Take time to relax and get plenty of sleep.
Ayurvedic Food Plan for Vata
|VEGETABLES||FRUITS||GRAINS||SPICES||DAIRY||NUTS & SEEDS||BEANS|
Pitta has qualities of fire. It is cold, light, hot, oily, and sharp by nature. Those who have Pitta dosha dominant have strong digestion, metabolism, and healthy appetites. People with this dosha in excess are aggravated during the time of heat. Therefore, they are likely to experience diseases associated with the fire principle like inflammation, fever, skin rashes, and sore throats.
Hence, eating foods that are cool and have astringent-like properties will minimize the adverse effects of aggravated Pitta.
Guidelines to balance Pitta:
- Avoid sour and also pungent foods.
- Avoid excessive heat.
- Limit intake of salt.
- Eat cooling and non-spicy foods.
- Follow a vegetarian diet.
- Inculcate grains like oats, rice, wheat, and barley in your diet.
- Take salads with meals.
- Avoid hot spices.
Ayurvedic Food Plan for Pitta
|VEGETABLES||FRUITS||GRAINS||SPICES||DAIRY||NUTS & SEEDS||BEANS|
|Broccoli||Coconut||Wheat||Fennel||Milk||Pumpkin seeds||Black lentils|
Kapha presents itself as cool, oily, soft, solid by nature. They are susceptible to diseases that involve the water principle like flu, sinus congestion. They are also prone to gaining excess weight and have headaches.
Eating foods that are dry, warm, and have roughage balances this dosha.
Guidelines to balance Kapha dosha:
- Avoid dairy products.
- Limit consumption of fried and greasy foods.
- Also, limit the consumption of too many sweets. Instead, use sweeteners like honey.
- Indulge in daily physical exercise to maintain a healthy weight.
- Eat dry and light foods.
Ayurvedic Diet Plan for Kapha
|VEGETABLES||FRUITS||GRAINS||SPICES||DAIRY||NUTS & SEEDS||BEANS|
|Carrots||Apple||Barley||Cumin||Soy milk||Sunflower seeds||Legumes|
|Eggplant||Apricot||Corn||Fenugreek||Camel milk||Flax seeds||(moderate)|
Various Benefits of Ayurvedic Diet
Ayurveda is a holistic lifestyle modification that has numerous benefits when practiced daily with consistency. While the traditional approach of Ayurveda diet involves eating according to the dosha, one can also start by emphasizing on the kind of food they eat and their characteristics by intuitively eating.
Encourages mindful eating habits
An Ayurvedic diet promotes mindfulness in eating habits. It promotes paying attention to what you put into your body. Moreover, it makes one mindful of how the body reacts to certain food types and how they affect their physical, mental, and emotional attributes.
Potential weight loss
A balanced and guided plan to an Ayurveda diet can help one maintain healthy body weight. There are published research articles that report how an Ayurveda guided diet can help in weight loss. Above all, an Ayurveda Diet, along with Yoga practice is effective in weight management. Read about Yoga asanas here.
Some Ayurvedic diet rules for promoting weight loss are:
- Drink a glass of lukewarm water with lemon on an empty stomach
- Avoid snacking between the day
- Eat according to the season
- Practice Yoga
- Eat soaked fenugreek seeds in the morning
- Add cinnamon in your diet. You can also add some cinnamon in your tea. (Do take care of your allergy trigger elements)
- Keep a balance in consuming all the six tastes: sour, sweet, astringent, salty, bitter, pungent
Promotes eating unprocessed foods
An Ayurvedic diet plan encourages eating whole, unprocessed foods that are healthier for the body. This, in turn, helps lessen the consumption of saturated fats, sugar, sodium components that are widely used in processed foods and cause potential diseases.
Balances various energies in the body
The basic foundation of an Ayurveda diet lies in identifying the major dosha prevalent in a person’s system and balancing it with the other two doshas to promote overall health. These doshas are nothing but energies present within our bodies. Determining them and keeping them balanced with the right food choices not only balances the energies but also prevents diseases and maintains good mental and emotional well-being.
Ayurvedic Food Boosts Immunity
The Ayurvedic diet promotes eating foods that boost the body’s natural immune responses. For instance, it suggests eating neither raw nor overcooked foods which helps maintain the food’s nutritive properties. It recommends eating juicy fruits, lentils, homemade dairy products like paneer, ghee, green leafy vegetables, whole grains, which have valuable nutrients that have a positive impact on the immune system.
Improved digestion and bowel movements
The Ayurveda diet benefits the digestive system to work smoothly. It promotes eating foods that are tailored to keep the digestive system in its best health. Hence, it detoxifies, cleanses, and purifies the small and large intestines. A few Ayurvedic diet rules for improved digestion are:
- Drink a glass of water just after waking up.
- Consuming ‘Trikatu’: an ancient combination of black pepper, long pepper, and ginger.
- Probiotic supplements.
- Using Triphala and amla.
- Lemon and honey water.
These rules of Ayurveda enhance digestion, replenishes, rejuvenates, and nourishes the digestive system. In addition to this, there are many probiotics that have bowel regulating properties that optimize digestion.
Ayurvedic Food Promotes Overall Healing
Ayurveda not only focuses on physical health but also works on balancing mental health with physical health. The various doshas do not just draw their characteristics from the physical attributes but also have a major impact on the mental, emotional, and behavioral attributes of an individual.
For example, the emotional attributes of a person with Pitta as dominant dosha are smart, good decision-makers, ambitious, and, short-tempered. An imbalance in this dosha can result in aggressiveness, anger, and hate. Therefore, an Ayurveda diet also focuses on balancing these aspects thereby promoting overall healing.
There are more benefits than downsides of an Ayurvedic Diet but the potential drawbacks can be effectively taken care of. Here are the few potential demerits of an Ayurvedic diet to consider.
Navigating your dosha
It can get a little overwhelming determining your dominant dosha. You might find it confusing and get caught up between the varying characteristics of the doshas because your dosha may be a combination of more than one type.
While consulting an Ayurvedic doctor is advised but their data collection is also subjective and may vary. Therefore, following this kind of diet requires patience and perseverance to see visible changes.
Lack of proper direction
Following an Ayurvedic diet plan can get difficult if one does not understand where to start and what are the things that he/she should consider. There are many good and trusted sources of articles that are published on the internet that can guide you to embark on this journey. But there is also mixed information available that can make you lose your direction.
Therefore, we suggest you consult a clinical nutritionist or an Ayurveda practitioner for personalized guidance.
The biggest challenge you will face is commitment and patience. Planning meals and adhering to it no matter where you are and what limitations you have is something that can get restrictive but is totally worth the effects it has on the health.
If weight loss is your goal, then the elements that form an Ayurvedic diet, like mindful eating practice, avoiding processed foods, will help you achieve your desired weight.
Most importantly, one needs to remember that an Ayurvedic diet plan is not just a plan. It is a lifestyle, a way of living. And once you understand how an Ayurvedic diet works, the benefits are unlimited.
Above all, make sure that you discuss your health conditions with your doctor before making any major lifestyle changes. Also, if you plan on taking any herbal medicines, do check with your healthcare provider before so that it doesn’t interfere with your ongoing medications if any.
FAQs regarding Ayurvedic Diet
There is no hard and fast way to lose weight. An Ayurvedic diet plans the daily meals in a certain proportion and focuses on eating healthy whole and natural foods that provide the body with the essential minerals and nutrients. It advocates taking specific herbs and other kitchen tonics that maintain body mass. Hence, switching to an Ayurvedic diet will help you in weight management and to some extent aid in weight loss.
Ayurveda diet and supplements work synergistically with other western or allopathic drugs. Scientific studies have not revealed any harmful drug interactions. However, one is advised to consult their primary healthcare advisor before making any major and sudden adjustments to their diet.
It is certainly not too restricted but one can call it balanced. Once you determine your dominant dosha, a lot of things become clear about your body and various energies present. Thereafter, there are certain food recommendations that are suggested in order to maintain good health and keep those prominent energies balanced. The intensity of strictness to be followed depends on the individual. This is why we say that Ayurveda encourages mindfulness and awareness of what you put into your body.
COVID-19 Update | Ayurvedic Diet
In these unprecedented times of Corona Virus, the main priority of everyone is their health and what they put into their bodies. An Ayurvedic Diet has several physical and mental benefits that would not only equip our bodies to fight this disease but also train our minds. This is because Ayurveda practices mindfulness.
Ayurveda has been around since ancient years and our ancestors swore by this way of eating. They farmed, plucked, washed, cooked, and ate fruits and vegetables. They used kitchen spices, herbs, seeds as their means of pharmacy and they lived longer and healthier.
The elements that form an Ayurvedic diet and the characteristics that it takes into consideration tailoring to an individual’s needs is so profound that no Western medicine can compare to it.
Therefore, we should slowly try to inculcate some eating rules from our Ayurvedic Diet and improve our overall health.
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