ayurvedic nutrition & lifestyle
Let Mother Nature be your guide to eating and living wisely. Learn how to adjust your eating and lifestyle habits according to each season!¬†
If you are frustrated by trying many diet plans and not feeling better, it is time to follow Ayurvedic Diet plan and stick to it – It is designed to fit your Mind-Body type (Body-Constitution) so your food choices will be your Soul-Foods!
More than calories, Ayurveda pays attention to the qualities in the food – Hot or cold, heavy or light, moist or dry, etc., because qualities make all the difference. ¬†For example, a glass of water has “0” calories, but the qualities in the water make all the difference. A glass of ice-cold water may worsen allergies, weaken digestion, hamper circulation and may cause you to lose your voice. On the other hand, a glass of warm water, which has same calories, has exactly the opposite effect – it will reduce congestion, strengthen metabolism, improve circulation and clear the voice. If it is too hot, a glass of cool water will be very refreshing, but¬† in cold winters, go for a warm glass of water.
Ayurveda uses same philosophy when it comes to create balancing diet plan for you. If you are Vata predominant, because you may be thin/slender with dry skin and always feeling cold – warm, moist and heavy foods like soups, stews, oatmeal and warm herbal teas will be ideal for you. If you are well built, with moist skin complaining about weight gain, congestion and swelling then light, warm and dry foods such as toasts, grilled veggies, baked foods and broiled fish will be your soul food. If you are medium built, organized, with warm, ruddy complexion then salads, cooling fruits and a mildly spicy foods are the right choices for you. It is not what but who is eating makes all the difference. Ayurvedic nutrition revolves around the individual.
Ayurveda is the only science focusing on combining the six tastes in each meal to make it tasty, delicious, balanced and medicinal. Sweet taste helps to build tissues in the body while sour taste restores acid base balance. Salty is responsible for maintaining mineral balance and pungent improves digestion and strengthens digestive enzymes. Astringent stops bleeding and gives tone to the body. Bitter works as a natural antibiotic, antiseptic and it purifies the body. Adding six tastes into your food is the right way to make food medicinal, delicious and low in calories. The right touches of sweet, sour, salty, pungent, astringent and bitter help to make food Prakriti specific. e. g. Vatas should avoid eating bitter greens, because it aggravates Vata, but Pittas thrive on those greens, because it cools down the heat. Ginger, garlic, jalapenos and chilies make Kaphas happy by reducing congestion and helping lose weight, but give Pittas ulcers or irritability. Sweet potatoes will make Vatas feel grounded, but may make Kaphas lethargic. Do you see the difference? The same food makes one person happy and another sad. This is why it’s important to eat according to your Prakriti.
Ayurveda favors seasonally grown foods. Leafy greens grow in summer and cool the body so they are summer foods. Root veggies, squash, pumpkin, nuts and beans are readily available, and are ideal in fall because they are heavy, sweet and moist – balancing Vata. Mother Nature is so wise that it produces the fruits and veggies which create balance in each season, so all you have to do is shop at your local farmer’s market. If you start making changes in your foods according to seasons, you will be able to prevent many diseases.
Ayurveda keeps a close eye on digestion. “You are what you eat and what you digest”. For example, you may go to a gourmet restaurant, but if your digestion is weak, the gourmet food will be nothing but a poison. So your job is to keep that pilot light around your naval (your digestive enzymes) hot and strong.
Day in and day out you get up in the morning, get ready, go to work, and follow the same routine without paying much attention. Have you noticed that your energy is high in the morning and starts declining as the day goes by? Have you ever thought about why you change your wardrobe every season? Do you change your food accordingly?
Ayurveda is all about doing the right thing at the right time. It recommends guidelines – daily and seasonal – that help to make your daily activities more productive and to create peace with the changing seasons to stay balanced, so you can enjoy the enchanting fall colors, breathtaking spring blooms or cool summer hikes. During the day, at certain times, certain Doshas (natural energies) predominate. Accordingly Ayurveda recommends daily guidelines for you to follow and make your days purposeful and productive.
For example, morning begins with Kapha predominance, so you may sneeze or sniffle in the morning or your allergies may get worse. Kapha time is a high endurance time, so you get more work done. If you start your day early, your whole day’s work will be done by noon or 1:00 pm. Pitta dominates around noon, so you get hungry and if you don’t eat, you get angry. This is the best time for digestion and metabolism. Vata stands next in a line. It is the best time to head to the gym or a yoga class.
Daily Routine Tips
- Get up before sunrise. Meditate in the early morning and make a “to do” list.
- Eat a lighter breakfast in the morning.
- Make lunch the main meal.
- Take a nap for 15 minutes after lunch (research shows that people who take a catnap for 15 minutes after lunch, increase their life span by 7 years).
- Exercise in the early morning or evening.
- Bedtime should be around 10:00 p.m.
As Doshas revolve around the day, they revolve around the seasons too. Spring is the Kapha season, while Summer is marked with Pitta predominance. In fall and early winter we have to follow a Vata balancing lifestyle. You rightfully change your clothes according to the season. Your favorite summer attire may be – cotton t-shirt and shorts – to cool you down. As fall approaches, you change into warm-ups and sweaters to keep your body warm. Your winter jacket is warm and heavy because Vata is cold and light as compared to your spring jacket which is warm but light because Kapha is cold and heavy. Who teaches you this? Nobody! You have the inborn intelligence, which many of you may have been ignoring. You may eat cold watermelon cubes during a Christmas party or have a bowl of ice cream on winter nights. You may love salsa and chips with a margarita and salt on the side (which increases heat in the body) during summer days. These unseasonal dietary choices cause health problems and disease. If you follow an Ayurvedic seasonal routine, you can be free of many diseases, and feel your best. Learn how to make the right choices and choose foods that create health! >>
Here are a few seasonal Diet & Lifestyle guidelines:
- Massage the whole body with warm sesame oil 2-3 times a week (sesame oil is slightly warming).
- Do yoga and qigong instead of swimming.
- Keep yourself warm and well hydrated.
- Make oatmeal your friend at breakfast and start your lunch with a warm bowl of soup, rather than salad.
- Keep yourself warm and go to bed around 10 p.m.
- Take a brisk walk in nature or have a vigorous exercise routine.
- Drink ginger tea in the morning and add more spices in your foods.
- Eat baked, grilled, broiled foods with lot of spices, rather than steamed, sautŇĹed and bland foods.
- Massage the body with sesame oil treated with ginger or mustard – once a week.
- Take early morning or moon light walks or swimming for exercise.
- Eat fresh fruits and green veggies to cool the body.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Use coconut oil for massage once or twice a week (coconut oil is cooling).
- Avoid going out in the hot sun.
- Avoid staying up late at night.
Ayurvedic daily and seasonal guidelines have changed people’s lives.
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