Ayurveda Basics: Ayurvedic Diet
A key component of an Ayurvedic lifestyle is following an Ayurvedic diet. An Ayurvedic diet consists of eating foods which are appropriate for your current dosha imbalance.
In Ayurveda, we have three body types: Vata, Pitta, and Kpaha. These three types, or doshas, are composed of two elements each. Vata is made up of ether and air. Pitta is comprised of fire and water. Kapha is a mix of water and earth. Then, these three doshas are further delineated by twenty gunas, or qualities. We can find qualities which relate to foods that will imbalance each doshas.
The basic tenet of Ayurveda states that like increases like. For example, if we have excess of cold quality, then consuming cold foods and drinks, staying in a cold environment, taking cold showers, etc. will increase that cold quality. This in turn aggravates Vata dosha.
An Ayurvedic diet is fashioned according to these theories. Within an Ayurvedic consultation, the Ayurvedic practitioner takes your pulse, examines your tongue nails, and facial features and determines what your innate Ayurvedic constitution is (prakruti) and which dosha is most imbalanced.
Given the fast-paced, multi-tasking, goal oriented lives we lead in modern society, 99% of us are dealing with an imbalance. Then the Ayurvedic practitioner would give you a list of foods to each which would pacify the imbalance.
If more than one dosha is imbalanced, the practitioner would select a diet suited for the dosha with the greatest imbalance or advise you on a diet which factors in an imbalance for two doshas.
While your most prominent dosha is most likely to go out of balance, it is not always the case. So, you want to focus on the imbalance, or the vikruti, rather than focus on your prakruti. Following a pitta pacifying diet if you are a Pitta predominant but have a Vata imbalance, will create more Vata aggravation and greater health problems down the road.
The Ayurvedic practitioner will also provide you with food combining guidelines so that you can better assimilate your nutrients. Ayurveda addresses the trinity of the body, mind, and the spirit. If we are not properly digesting, absorbing, and assimilating our nutrients, it also transfers over into our ability to process our greater life experiences. The converse also holds true.
After learning what your virkruti is and being given a detailed Ayurvedic diet, then the best way to incorporate the changes is incrementally. Don’t try and implement all the changes at once. You may get overwhelmed with all the variations and then decide it’s too much and not do any of it. This creates more doshic imbalance. Additionally, your body needs time to adapt to all the changes so that it can adjust all its natural rhythms accordingly.
Select one food group and work with it for a week or two or three, and then move onto the next. For instance, work with eating vegetables which favor your imbalance until it becomes more second nature what to select, then move on to fruits, then grains, etc. and repeat this process.
If cooking more for yourself is part of your Ayurvedic lifestyle, taking cooking classes may be quite beneficial. You want to make sure that you have also set up an Ayurvedic kitchen.
It’s important to be patient with yourself and your loved ones as you make modifications with an Ayurvedic diet. Acknowledge yourself for making even small modifications. Changes in Ayurvedic diet and lifestyle add up incrementally; it’s not an all or nothing basis.
You can start by taking this simple quiz.
Ayurveda provides us with the opportunity to take responsibility for our own well-being. By paying careful attention to what foods agree with us and their impact on us, we can make the proper changes accordingly and live in greater harmony with our environment.