There’s no one diet that could be called “the ayurvedic diet”; there are some general guidelines for what kind of foods you should eat and how to eat them, but apart from the very basics that apply to everyone, what kind of a diet you should follow depends on your body type and situation.
My attempt at this has so far been pathetic (I ate some dairy yesterday and a banana today, both of which are not allowed in my particular situation as per the ayurvedic guidelines) so I thought writing it all down here and keeping track of my progress could be helpful. :-)
So here we go: some of the ayurvedic guidelines I’m going to follow religiously from now on to see what happens.
Please note that my Ayurveda knowledge is very basic at the moment so I might say something someone who actually knows about Ayurveda wouldn’t agree with. :-) I’m only sharing things in the way that I’ve understood them.
❀ Some Ayurveda basics
- The Sanskrit word “आयुर्वेद; Āyurveda” is usually translated either as “the knowledge for long life” or “the science of life”, ayu meaning “life” or “everyday living”, veda meaning “knowing”.
- It’s the oldest known system of medicine and native to India where it has been used for over 5,000 years. Many other traditional systems of medicine such as Chinese and Tibetan medicine have their roots in Ayurveda.
- One of the most important things Ayurveda highlights is that every person has the ability and power to heal himself and get back to health. The responsibility for one’s health is one’s own and it cannot be given to anyone else (a doctor, for example) even though other people’s knowledge and support can be used to help. Health is seen as much more than simply as the absence of illness and the goal is to achieve the highest levels of psychological, spiritual and physical health and happiness.
- When Western medicine tends to compare the patient to other people to find out whether he’s sick or healthy and is thus “objective”, seeing as “normal” what is most common among the majority, Ayurveda is more subjective and seeks to find out what is “normal” for the particular individual without comparing him to other patients. What is normal for one person isn’t necessarily that for someone else.
- Ayurveda teaches that no treatment (whether pharmaceutical, acupuncture, massage therapy, etc.) should be started before eliminating the real cause of illness; if treatment is started before doing so, it will only hide the cause for a while and affect the symptoms very superficially and it is likely that the illness will reappear in the same or some other form later until the root cause of illness has been addressed.
❀ Basic ayurvedic guidelines for diet
- In supporting health and general well-being, nutrition is one of the most important things in addition to an otherwise healthy lifestyle and yoga, breathing exercises, happiness and inner peace.
- No one diet that would suit everyone perfectly exists; everyone is unique and diet should be determined based on the body type (vata, pitta, kapha, or a mix of them) and the situation of the individual.
- Food should preferably be of high quality, fresh, organic (or better), unprocessed and local. Not all foods should be eaten together, for example fruit and milk shouldn’t be eaten at the same meal.
- Eat when you’re hungry; don’t eat when you’re not hungry. Drink when you’re thirsty; don’t drink when you’re not thirsty. Don’t eat when in reality you’re thirsty and the other way round.
- When eating, be fully present in the moment. Be aware of the taste of the food you’re eating. Avoid watching TV, reading or talking while you’re eating. Cook and eat your meals with love and compassion. Chew each mouthful of your food properly, at least 32 times. It’s recommended (although snacks are allowed for certain body types) to eat three times a day and have 5-6 hours between each meal.
- 1/3 of your stomach should be filled with food, 1/3 with water, and the remaining 1/3 should be air. The recommended amount is two handfuls of food per meal. Water should be sipped while eating; water drunk after a meal can cause dilution of stomach acids and digestive enzymes.
- Drinking large amounts of ice-cold water should be avoided especially if one has problems with poor digestion. Warm water is easier on the body and it’s recommended for a healthy person to fast on warm water once a week to give the digestive system a rest.
❀ My ayurvedic diet plan
This isn’t the diet recommended for everyone; for other body types and situations the recommended diet could be almost the exact opposite. I won’t be listing the foods I’m not allowed to eat since there are so many of them :-) (Especially because I also have my paleo principles and would never eat grains, for example, even though Ayurveda would allow me to eat certain grains.) ...but only the foods I can eat.
General guidelines: Low in carbohydrates; avoid sweet, salty and sour tasting foods. Fast on warm water at least once a week; for longer fasts include fresh apple juice. Skip breakfast whenever possible.
Foods I can eat:
- Fruits: apple, apricot, berries, mango, peach, pear
- Vegetables: asparagus, beetroot, broccoli, brussels sprout, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, celery, eggplant, garlic, green leafy vegetables, lettuce, mushrooms, onions, parsley, peas, peppers, spinach, sprouts
- Animal products: chicken, turkey, eggs, shrimp, game (moose/elk etc.)
No nuts. Of seeds, only sunflower and pumpkin seeds. Of sweeteners, only raw organic honey. All spices are okay except salt in large quantities. No dairy products except ghee (clarified butter) and goat’s milk. No oils.
I’m going to start following this plan and a few other things (lifestyle changes) religiously starting tomorrow… looking forward to being able to report awesome things happening soon :-)