The Paleovedic Diet: An Ayurvedic Approach To Food
Let’s take a look at what the paleovedic diet is and what an Ayurvedic approach to food really looks like.
The Ayurvedic Approach To Food
Ayurvedic medicine reminds us that we should “eat to live” and not “live to eat.” While it is critical to plan meals carefully and try to eat as well as you can, it is important not to become fanatical about eating the perfect food all the time.
There is a condition now known as orthorexia, which describes an obsession with eating only “proper” foods; unwarranted negative feelings such as guilt and regret may occur when one deviates from this regimen.
With most people, I recommend the 90:10 rule. This means that 90 % of the time you stick to your prescribed diet and do the best that you can to eat healthily.
10 % of the time, which translates to once or a maximum of twice per week, you can give yourself a treat and consume foods that are not a part of your usual diet.
Typically this is when you might go out to a restaurant for a meal and have less control over all the ingredients that go into your meal anyway.
When working with patients whose digestive system is imbalanced, I am usually more strict while we are improving the overall function of their digestive tract.
However, once things are stable, as long as they are not struggling with major gastrointestinal issues or other serious food allergies, they should be able to broaden and expand their diet.
If they cannot tolerate this, something may not be quite right with their digestion. The other aspect of food that is very important is eating your food in a mindful, unhurried state. Try not to eat when you are extremely rushed or stressed out.
Ayurveda has specific guidelines on how and when to eat along with the most appropriate meals for different seasons and times.
Always try to sit down while eating and do not stand up and eat (this is a no-no in Ayurveda).
If you’d like to learn more about this Ayurvedic approach to food and the PaleoVedic Diet, check out Dr. Akil Palanisamy’s course below.
Minimize distractions such as television, internet, and the use of other screens. Chewing your food thoroughly and paying attention to your meal will make you less likely to overeat.
If possible, try to enjoy at least one meal each day sitting down together with family or friends, not only for the social connection but because studies suggest that this helps control portion size.
Many people eat for psychological reasons such as loneliness, anxiety, and emotional stress; if you find you are reaching for food for one of these reasons and not due to genuine hunger, seek out an alternative outlet.
Now that we have talked about a healthy approach to food, let us discuss specific dietary recommendations. You may be curious about my diet, so let me start by describing that
The Paleovedic Diet: An Ayurvedic Approach To Food
The Doctor’s Diet For many years, I followed a moderate-carbohydrate diet, always avoiding sugar, flour, vegetable oils, and most sweets.
Currently, my diet has evolved to be a low-carbohydrate diet, which I don’t recommend for everyone—but I know it works well for me.
I tolerate legumes quite well, possibly due to my Indian heritage, and therefore incorporate properly cooked and prepared legumes regularly. In fact, when I tried eliminating legumes, I actually felt worse.
My diet is rich in plant-based nutrients from vegetables of all colors and high in protein from eggs, meat, and seafood. I eat root vegetables such as sweet potatoes, potatoes, carrots, beets, cassava daily.
My diet also includes fermented full-fat dairy products, pickled vegetables, two servings of fruit each day, plenty of spices, green tea, dark chocolate, and the occasional indulgence in my all-time favorite dessert, tiramisu (following the 90:10 rule).
Once or a maximum of twice per week, you can give yourself a treat and consume foods that are not a part of your usual diet
For vitamin K2, I occasionally eat natto, a fermented Japanese soybean dish that was initially nauseating but has become an acquired taste.
People tend to have strong feelings about the taste of natto, with some considering it a delicacy and others describing it as vile—I suggest you try it.
It has more vitamin K2 by orders of magnitude than any other food on the planet but make sure to get organic, non-GMO natto. I avoid soy from other sources.
I also feel best when I incorporate Ayurvedic nutrition guidelines for my Vata body type—eating more cooked vegetables and minimizing salads and raw foods, making extensive use of spices, and consuming a great deal of oils and fats, including what my friends call “unholy” amounts of ghee.
Other fats in my diet that I eat every day are extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, and nuts and seeds. Now let us go into the specific details of the Paleovedic Diet.
Foods To Avoid In The Paleovedic Diet
Refined grains: Especially white flour, wheat flour (or whole wheat flour) Refined grains are made by pulverizing whole grains and removing the most nutritious components of grains, such as the bran and the endosperm.
What’s left is the calorie-rich, nutrient-poor staple of the Western diet—flour.
Moreover, the intense heat and pressure required for industrial processing of grains probably create other toxins. Scientists have reviewed some intriguing experiments with refined grains.
In one peculiar study, laboratory rats were fed either their usual diet, cornflakes, or the cardboard box the cornflakes came in—the control group lived normally, while all the rats fed the cornflakes actually died before the cardboard-eating rats started dying.
Various studies have documented the harmful health effects of refined grains.
Vegetable seed oils: These include all vegetable oils made from industrial processing, such as soybean oil, corn oil, canola oil, safflower oil, cottonseed oil, and a few others. The only healthy vegetable oils are olive oil and coconut oil.
Red palm oil is nutritious but not recommended unless concerns about environmental sustainability are specifically addressed, as we talked about earlier.
Trans-fats: Trans fats are made by hydrogenating vegetable oils to make them solid at room temperature. It is well-known now that trans fats promote inflammation and have a strong connection with heart disease.
Even large food manufacturers are removing trans fats from their products. Avoid any food that contains hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils.
Refined sugars: Added sugar, especially white sugar, worsens numerous metabolic markers, promotes inflammation, and has been associated with obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
Paleovedic Diet: Foods To Eat Every Day
Organic or pastured eggs: Including the yolks (which are the most nutritious part). You may eat up to two eggs with the yolks every day.
Vegetables: At least twelve servings per day. Vegetables are far and away the most important part of your diet. The phytochemicals and nutrients in vegetables are your primary defense against disease.
Make sure you include plenty of nutrient-dense leafy green vegetables every day. Also frequently incorporate cruciferous vegetables, which protect against cancer and support healthy liver function (broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, bok choy, etc.).
Fruits: Up to two servings every day. Fruits are a great source of phytochemicals. Because fruit is much higher in sugar than vegetables, I recommend limiting it to two servings per day for most people.
Root vegetables: You may liberally eat root vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, beets, carrots, etc.
Healthy fats: These include coconut oil, avocados, grass-fed butter, extra-virgin olive oil, and ghee. Coconut oil is especially beneficial and I recommend that people try to eat one to two tablespoons daily.
Coconut oil contains beneficial fats known as medium-chain triglycerides (MCT’s) that can inhibit the growth of harmful gut microbes, improve lipid profiles, promote weight loss, improve neurological function, and possibly protect against heart disease.1
If you find that this oil has too strong of a coconut flavor, you can use an expeller-pressed variant, which is very mild and does not impart a strong flavor.
Both forms are good, and we use both types of coconut oil at home. Flaxseed oil and hemp seed oil are good options for occasional use, but should never be heated.
Protein sources: This could include organic, grass-fed meat or wild-caught seafood (see below), or if you are vegetarian, legumes, eggs, dairy products, etc.
Fermented and/or pickled vegetables: I encourage daily consumption of fermented vegetables because they are rich in probiotics and healthy acids.
I know that traditionally in Ayurveda fermented foods are usually not recommended because they are considered Pitta provoking and potentially tamasic or heavy in nature.
So you do have to be careful with fermented foods especially if you have an excess of Pitta or problem with sour foods, so check with your practitioner if you have any questions.
But for most people, I believe the benefits of fermented foods are significant. Sauerkraut is an excellent option. Your only memory of sauerkraut might be a pale, tasteless topping that you put on hot dogs.
These days, a variety of delicious options with different flavors and various combinations of vegetables are available. Experiment with different brands to see what you like.
Choose a brand that is prepared in a traditional manner and does not contain preservatives like sodium benzoate. It is also not difficult to make your own sauerkraut or other pickled vegetables at home.
Spices: All spices are acceptable, especially the 13 most powerful therapeutic healing spices which I call the kitchen pharmacy – turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, cumin, fenugreek, clove, fennel, coriander, allspice, black cumin, ajwain, saffron, and curry leaf.
Would you like to learn more about this Ayurvedic approach to food? Check out Dr. Akil Palanisamy’s course below.
Please consult a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner before following the paleovedic diet or any other Ayurvedic dietary recommendations mentioned in this article.
This article is sourced with excerpts from Dr. Akil Palanisamy’s course on The Ayurveda Experience. Content reproduced with permission.
- Boateng, Laurene, et al. “Coconut Oil and Palm Oil’s Role in Nutrition, Health and National Development: A Review.” Ghana Medical Journal, Ghana Medical Association, Sept. 2016, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5044790/.