Ayurveda is based on holistic health practices that originated in India 5000 years ago. The Ayurvedic diet promotes balance between the physical body and mind.
Ayurveda prescribes a complete guide to eating: when to eat, how to eat, and what to eat in order to boost your health. By adapting to the Ayurvedic diet with some of these easy to follow guidelines, you can experience tremendous health benefits and the sense of well-being that comes with an Ayurvedic cleanse. Good health goes beyond physical wellness; it also includes a sound mind and spirit. The food we eat nourishes both our body and mind.
The Ayurvedic Diet - Top 10 Guidelines
1. The Right Way of Eating in Ayurveda
Did you know that most people suffer from digestion-related problems like stomach pain, bloating, heartburn, and fatigue as a result of incorrect eating habits? Ayurveda has a simple solution for these common ailments.
Our body needs a settled environment to process and digest the nutrients in our food. If you eat the incorrect way (like eating while standing, walking, driving or engaged in some other such activity) it may not be very beneficial to your health. Further, if you eat more dense or nutritious food at the incorrect time, your body may not be able to properly digest the food. For example, eating a heavy dinner late in the evening and then trying to get up early the next day for yoga will likely lead to indigestion.
Following proper eating habits can help you overcome these issues. Eating an early, light dinner can help you start the next day fresh and active. It is also important to sit in a relaxed position while eating and to be aware of the taste and smell of your food. Adopting these practices can greatly improve your digestion.
2. Agni: The Power of Digestion
In Ayurveda, Agni is defined as the capacity of our body to digest and absorb food. Agni turns food into energy. Agni warms up in the morning and sets with the sun. Hence, if you eat heavy food after sunset, it becomes difficult for your body to digest it. Eat a nutritious meal between 10:00 am and 2:00pm so that the body has enough time to digest it. By following this practice you will be less likely to experience gas, bloating or other digestion-related problems.
Balancing your digestive power is very important in Ayurveda. Avoid cold drinks and ice cream during meals, as they can cause cramps and bloat. Any juice or water should be taken at room temperature while eating.
According to Ayurveda, lunch should be the largest meal since Agni is most powerful during this time. Dinner should be light and eaten before 8:00 pm. Follow these steps to wake up every day with more ease and energy. Practicing the Ayurvedic approach to eating helps us connect our mind and body with our surroundings.
Simple guidelines for correct eating include:
- Follow your Agni cycle for meals. Lunch should be the heaviest meal of the day;
- Sit in a relaxed state for eating;
- Avoid cold drinks or cold food during meals; and
- Have an early and light dinner.
3. Fasting is Beneficial
Just like our lungs, which expand and contract, our stomach is also designed to cycle between full and empty. To complete this cycle, allow your body to fast a little in order to contract your stomach before filling it up again by eating. Have a long fasting period between dinner and breakfast the next day; this will provide the body with an opportunity to rest.
Gravity also plays a role in our digestion. If you lie down after a heavy meal, it will put pressure on your digestive cycle. This leads to bloating and lethargy when you wake up.
4. Cleanse Your System
In Ayurveda, toxins resulting from undigested food are called Ama. Ama is the root cause of many diseases. Ayurveda encourages cleansing and resetting your digestive fire to support your body so that it can remove toxins.
Dietary habits leading to a build-up of Ama include:
- Late night eating and heavy dinners;
- Eating raw food or meat that is difficult to digest;
- Weak digestive system due to stress; and
- Drinking less water or suffering dehydration (impurities cannot be removed from the system if you are dehydrated).
Detox your body and get rid of Ama for optimal health. During Ayurvedic cleansing, eat light, nutritious foods and drink plenty of warm water throughout the day. Fresh veggies and fruits can be the best choice for cleansing your system.
5. Opt for a Simple Dinner
Lunch can be heavy, but dinner should be simple and light. Soups and salads are great choices as they are rich in water and vegetables. They are easy to prepare and quick to digest. Learning some simple soup recipes and trying them can help to make your dinner fun. Make dinner a small 'one pot meal'. Consider going on a quick walk around your neighborhood after dinner, as light movement after dinner helps with digestion and promotes a good night's sleep.
6. Plan Your Meals Each Week
There will be days when you feel less motivated or less inspired. If you want to get results, plan your meal a week ahead when you are motivated. Get organized, take action and plan your meals in advance.
Make a chart of your weekly meals, and align your actions:
- Check for all the required ingredients for your meals of the week;
- Keep some recipes ready that meet your dietary preferences;
- Schedule your food preparation time and your time for grocery shopping; and
- Pin your meal planner in your kitchen and check it daily.
Any new habit takes time to adopt. However, once you adopt a new habit, it becomes effortless. Give yourself some time to experience the amazing health benefits of an Ayurvedic diet and make it a habit.
7. Try Some Food Variations
Eating the same meals over and over might sound boring to you. Learn one or two new Ayurvedic recipes each week. Mix different vegetables and grains and try to prepare a new dish. Try a healthy dish from some other part of the world to make your meals more adventurous. To save on time and ingredients try not to get too fancy. Streamline your food and spend more time with friends and family.
8. Start Slow
You need to take action to get results, but that does not mean you have to follow strict rules and regimes. You don’t need to become anti-social to have an early dinner. Do not create unnecessary stress; instead, be slow and gentle to support your body's health. Enjoy small achievements instead of looking for a perfect finish and suffering the stress of attempting to achieve that.
With time, your undesirable habits should fall away and your social schedule will adjust to your needs. In the end, you will be surprised to see how well you adapted and how good it feels.
9. Cultivate Healthy Eating
Due to a busy life, many times you might find yourself skipping meals or reaching for junk food. Ayurveda believes that we prolong and improve the quality of our lives with healthy eating. Eat three meals a day, the same time each day, and make lunch the main meal. Cook and eat fresh food and avoid eating leftover food when possible.
Most importantly, appreciate your food and show gratitude before and after each meal.
10. Eat Natural Food
Most of the food available in grocery stores is processed or genetically modified. The chemicals added to these foods are toxic and lead to many diseases. Eat whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables, as they can support better health. Choose organic and unprocessed food for a healthier diet.
Eat pure food, stay hydrated, and get enough rest and exercise to stay healthy.
Journey to Success
Take a moment to think about what you want to achieve or what you want to become with an Ayurvedic diet. You may see a large gap between your present self and who you want to be. Start slowly with small changes, like starting with a light and early dinner. Jot down the changes you see after a week. Keep adding in the other habits and slowly you will accomplish your goals.
Benefits you will experience are:
- Your weight feels great;
- You feel more active and energetic when you wake up;
- Dinner makes you feel light and content;
- You feel less exhausted at the end of the day; and
- You experience a good night's sleep.
The right food can make our lives happier and healthier and filled with vitality.
Health Benefits of Ayurvedic Diet
The Ayurvedic diet works on your body and mind which brings balance to your life. A study conducted by Harvard researchers found that the holistic health interventions of Ayurveda helps people adapt to new and healthy behaviour.
Ayurvedic Diet Can Balance Your Doshas
According to Ayurveda, human body functions are governed by 3 doshas: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. These three Doshas determine our Ayurvedic body type.
Vata is associated with body movement that includes blood flow and air in the lungs. Vata-predominant people are thin and slender with an enthusiastic mind. To balance Vata, you should eat three meals a day, stick to a regular sleep pattern and try to reduce mental stress with meditation and yoga. Freshly cooked food, fresh fruits, and vegetables are advised.
Pitta is related to Agni, our body's metabolism and digestion. Pitta-predominant people are medium built with a sharp mind. To balance pitta, it is advised not to skip meals and to avoid spicy food. The Ayurvedic diet will have a cooling and soothing effect on the Pitta dosha.
Kapha is related to the structure of the body, cells and tissues. People with the Kapha dosha have a large-built body and are slow and steady in nature and mind. They need to exercise daily and should avoid heavy fried food.
A good balance between these doshas is needed for the proper functioning of our mind and body. Knowing your predominant dosha and eating the right food can help you restore this balance, supporting an overall healthy life.
Other Benefits of the Ayurvedic Diet
Boosts the Immune System
The Ayurvedic diet includes easy to digest types of food that support a strong immune system. Eating the right quantity of food at regular intervals enhances immunity. Ayurveda teaches us to avoid food that weakens our body, and to choose food that is suitable for our health. It helps us fight any illness.
Improves Mental Health
The Ayurvedic diet brings balance to your mind by keeping you healthy. Psychological problems like stress, anger and greed are closely related to the food we eat. Light meals recommended by Ayurveda reduces stress, sleeping disorders and mood swings. Once you determine and eat the food that is best suited for your health, you will start to experience optimal mental health.
Helps in Weight Loss and Maintenance
A study conducted on 200 people concluded that an Ayurveda-based diet is useful in promoting weight loss. An Ayurvedic diet balances your doshas and also improves digestion and cleanses your system, which often results in weight loss. It also improves your sleep, reduces stress, and leads to a healthy lifestyle which, in the long term, are the keys to weight loss.
The Ayurvedic diet is not just a diet, but rather a way of life. It can be the perfect solution for all your health issues. It is well known that our overall well-being is affected by the food we eat. This diet helps you understand your digestive system better and helps make your body more efficient. It is a holistic approach that reduces stress by positively affecting mindfulness.
With these easy to follow guidelines, you can eat the food you were always meant to eat. A balanced diet is the best medicine for a healthy life. If you are looking for a long lasting impact on your health, then the Ayurvedic diet is the right choice. At the beginning, it may seem difficult, but do not give up. This journey will help transform your health and lead you towards a happy and healthy lifestyle.
If you are looking to combine an Ayurvedic approach to hydration with your Ayurvedic diet, consider drinking your water out of a copper water bottle. Studies have shown that drinking water stored in a copper vessel can be a safe and beneficial health practice. Copper bottles also actively kill bacteria that comes into their presence through a process known the oligodynamic effect.
About the Authors: This article was collaboratively written by our team of researchers and writers with the benefit of all available scientific studies and other relevant literature. Our team of researchers and writers include experienced health researchers including a qualified medical professional. Please note that information in this article is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.