It is essential to know which food to eat to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Not only your body but also your mind can be affected by the food you choose to eat. Ayurveda follows a holistic approach that involves using natural remedies to treat minor diseases and prevent others from appearing. If you are looking for alternative medicine to regain balance, get healthier, or even lose weight, Ayurveda might be the best option for you.
What is Ayurveda
Ayurveda is an alternative medicine that originated in India more than 3000 years ago. It is one of the oldest medicines and thus is regarded as the mother of all sciences. Conventional medicine and other medicines took some of Ayurveda’s principles and applied them to their practices. Ayurveda is also known as the mother of all cures because of its natural approach to healing and preventing diseases. Its main objective is to prevent rather than cure, and it does so by balancing the state of the body, mind, and spirit.
Ayurveda and the Doshas
A dosha is a universal force that influences our body and mind. There are only three doshas: Kapha, Pitta, and Vata. The five elements: fire, water, air, earth, and ether, constitute the doshas and, therefore, our body. The doshas are in charge of our morphology and influence how we behave, think, and perceive the world around us.
Everyone has all three of them, but there is one that dominates over the other two. An Ayurvedic physician can help you to assess your dosha and guide you to a better diet.
Healthy Life with the Right Diet
Now that you know about doshas and what they do, you can begin to understand how to care for your body and mind. It is important to understand the functions of each dosha, and it is essential to know your dominant dosha before getting a recommended diet. Not every food, although healthy, is beneficial for every body type.
Kapha – The Force of Harmony: Earth and Water
People who have a predominant Kapha tend to be slow in the way they speak and move. They are friendly people who often worry about their loved ones more than they worry about themselves. They are stable in the way they think and determined when they want to achieve something, although it might take time to do so.
Because of their heavy nature, Kapha people tend to gain weight rapidly and lose it slowly. When they have an inappropriate diet, they can suffer from a lack of motivation, laziness, apathy, and even depression.
A healthy diet for Kapha includes lots of steamed veggies like carrots, mushrooms, asparagus, and broccoli. It is also recommended that a Kapha person follows a vegetarian or vegan diet because consuming meat will only increase Kapha and create more imbalance. If they want to eat animal products, chicken, turkey, and fish are okay once a week. Include a variety of beans, except for chickpeas, and delight your palate with as many spices as you want, for they are very beneficial to your body.
Avoid foods that are too salty, oily, sugary and overall highly processed food, like canned or frozen food. Also, try to avoid dairy products, for they produce mucus, and Kapha’s problems often originate in the lungs. Soy and goat milk are all right if consumed in small quantities.
Something else to consider is that Kapha needs to eat only three times a day. That is why it is crucial to know how to nourish your body.
Pitta – The Dynamic Force: Fire
People whose main dosha is Pitta tend to be overachievers. They love to set goals and work towards bettering themselves. They are leaders, great teammates, and protective of those they consider close friends. However, when Pitta is out of balance, they might develop unhealthy behaviors such as having a big ego, being overprotective, and even being cruel to those they consider as inferiors. Among the main health problems that a Pitta person can have are related to acidity due to their naturally high amount of acid in their blood.
Pitta loses and gains weight easily, so maintaining their shape is simple if they follow the right diet. If the Pitta person is healthy, they can eat everything knowing that they will not get side effects. However, an unhealthy Pitta will need to have a restricted diet. To balance Pitta through diet it is important to avoid spices, especially extremely spicy food which will only cause Pitta to increase and cause more imbalance in the body. A good Pitta diet will include fresh dairy products, beans, fresh nuts, sweet fruits, and a variety of cereals. Refrain from consuming deep-fried food and generally avoid any type of oil except for ghee. It is good to know that many of the Pitta problems involve the liver, so having a good diet is essential for maintaining these organs functioning correctly.
Vata – The Force of Movement: Air and Ether
Vata people have creative minds and high-energy bursts. They are sensible people who often find themselves being carried away by their thoughts. They can be very enthusiastic about things but might leave many projects unfinished because they are constantly thinking of new things to create. When a Vata person is unhealthy, they might develop bad habits such as being self-conscious, becoming insecure, and beginning to blame themselves for external things. They can also develop serious health problems such as multiple sclerosis, anxiety, paralysis, and Parkinson's.
To keep a Vata healthy it is crucial to follow a strict diet with simple meals. Vata has a fast metabolism, so if the food they consume is not the right type of food, they will not get the necessary nutrients. That is a reason why they should combine no more than three ingredients in their meals. Also, because of their fast metabolism, they are prone to lose weight, and thus they should eat three meals and three snacks per day.
A Vata person hates to spend time cooking. Therefore, they usually opt for quick snacks such as fruit, raw vegetables, processed snacks, or decide to eat nothing at all. However, they cannot rely only on fruit because they get absorbed quickly. When choosing fruit, opt for acid fruits like pineapples, strawberries, papaya, and peaches. Vata should avoid eating raw food. Even vegetables should be cooked before consumption to help with digestion. Include cereals in all your meals. Fermented dairy, like yogurt and masala milk, is better for Vata’s sensitive stomach. Avoid eating beans at night because they produce inflammation and gases. Remember to never skip meals because it will only aggravate Vata and cause more imbalance in the body.
Other Dietary Recommendations
- It is essential to drink plenty of water throughout the day. Ayurveda recommends that at least 50% of what you drink should be pure water. Remember, carbonated drinks, alcoholic beverages, or coffee count towards this percentage. Also, it is better for your digestion if you drink water at room temperature.
- Breakfast should be light and taken before 10 am for better digestion. Lunch should be the biggest meal of the day and it needs to be between 10 am to 2 pm. Dinner should be light yet nutritious and should be consumed three to two hours before going to sleep.
- Eat home-cooked food as often as possible. Food that is cooked with organic and fresh products, that is cooked with care and love, will always be better for your overall health than the one offered in restaurants or food chains.
- Eat consciously. Focus on your food when you eat to help your stomach digest better. Avoid watching T.V. or your phone while eating. Also favor eating while seated.
- Have a meal plan for the week and follow the assigned times strictly. Knowing your times and your meals will help your body to adjust and understand the routine. The more you do it, the more your body will remember on its own the times you need to eat.
- Include vegetables in all your meals. Select them and prepare them following your dosha requirements. It is better to include little vegetables in all your meals rather than eating a big plate of salad once per day.
Following a diet that helps our dosha and maintains our health is not always simple. We tend to like the food that increases our primary dosha, thus creating an imbalance in the body. There are multiple food choices, so do not worry about boredom or not liking the food. Ayurveda always has a variety of healthy recipes you can follow to maintain your doshas in balance. With patience and determination, you will see improvements in your overall health.
Remember that the food you consume also affects your mental health. Visit an Ayurvedic practitioner to learn more about your dosha and how you can help your body and mind to regain balance and maintain a healthy life.
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