What is the Ayurvedic diet?


Ayurveda may be getting a lot of love from celebrities and influencers right now, but it’s not a short-term fad. This is actually a traditional approach to medicine and wellness that has been practiced in India for thousands of years. The name is derived from a combination of two Sanskrit words which together loosely translate to “the science of life”.

“The Ayurvedic diet is rooted in the belief that five elements – earth, water, fire, air and space – make up everything in the universe, and that these five elements are present in each person in different amounts, affecting the mind, body, and spirit of the individual in a unique way,” says Mary Mosquera Cochran, registered dietitian at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. “It will affect which foods, activities and routines work best for each person.”

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What is the Ayurvedic diet?

First, a little clarification: although sometimes called the “Ayurvedic diet”, the Ayurvedic approach to food is not really a diet at all. “Ayurveda is the ancient system of healing in India. And I like to describe it as a system because it’s very systematic,” says Divya Alter, Ayurvedic chef, founder of Ayurvedic food brand Divya’s and author of cookbook What to Eat for How You Feel: The New Ayurvedic Kitchen, and the upcoming Joy of Balance: An Ayurvedic Guide to Cooking with Healing Ingredients.” What I love about Ayurveda is that all these recommendations help us live a more balanced life physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.”

Alter says the first step in the Ayurvedic diet is to do self-checking. “When you talk about the basic principles of Ayurvedic nutrition, it always starts with you. Where are you?” She means that literally, as well as the type of mental and emotional state you are in. stage of life you are in.

Mosquera Cochran notes that another important principle of the Ayurvedic diet is to “choose foods and practice habits that strengthen Agni, or digestive fire. highly processed and frozen foods, use warming herbs/spices with cooking, include healthy fats, eat at regular times and avoid overeating.

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Understanding Dosha Types

Although there are many nuances to Ayurvedic diet and wellness, one of the main principles is to eat according to your “dosha”, which is a term that refers to the energies that make up the body-mind constitution. of each person. There are three main types of dosha:

Vata (air + space): “People with more Vata energy are very creative, communicative, and enthusiastic,” says Mosquera Cochran, adding that they “often tend to have low body weight, dry skin, cold hands/feet, and poor appetite and variable digestion”. If you have Vata energy, “your digestion is best described as variable, and rightly so, as it is dominated by variable Vata, the body’s functional principle of movement and flow,” explains Nancy Lonsdorf, MDwho has specific expertise in Ayurvedic practices.

Pitta (fire + water): “People with more Pitta energy are ambitious, intelligent, and passionate,” says Mosquera Cochran. Common traits of this type of dosha: they have trouble withstanding hot temperatures, can easily lose and gain weight, and have very strong appetites and digestion. “These people may be more likely to feel ‘hungry’ if a meal is delayed,” says Mosquera Cochran. Dr. Lonsdorf adds of those with Pitta energy: “Your digestion, when out of balance, is best described as overheated. Your stomach acids tend to get out of balance towards too much heat and inflammation and you may be prone to heartburn.

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Kapha (earth + water): “People with more Kapha energy are very loving, patient, and compassionate,” says Mosquera Cochran. She says people in this dosha tend to have excellent strength and endurance, but “they may struggle to lose weight, have slow digestion, and have congestion/sinus issues.” Dr Lonsdorf says people with Kapha energy have a slow and difficult ‘digestive fire’, adding: ‘Your food takes a long time to ‘cook’ and takes a lot of energy, which means you can easily feeling dull, tired or sleepy after a meal.”

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Eating by Dosha Types

Alter says a fundamental tenet of Ayurveda is the idea of ​​”like increases like.” This means that if you want to improve the qualities of a dosha, focus on foods that “nourish” that dosha. But she also stresses the importance of “following the golden rule of balance. You want to eat balanced foods. Don’t just think about your prominent dosha, but also what is the aggravated dosha today that you need to balance? »

Mosquera Cochran offers some basic tips to help you eat with the dosha:

To help rebalance Vata energy:

“Use warming spices in cooking like ginger, cumin, and cinnamon. Be generous with the oils and fats in your meals. Sip hot herbal teas throughout the day. Don’t overdo it with raw vegetables, salads and frozen foods. Limit dry/light foods like popcorn, crackers, and pretzels, and avoid cold, carbonated beverages.

To help rebalance Pitta’s energy:

“Include cooling herbs/spices like coriander, mint, cilantro, fennel, and cardamom in your meals. Eat a balanced mix of fresh, cooked foods and fresh, raw foods. Stay well hydrated but avoid frozen drinks. Eat at regular times.

To help rebalance Kapha energy:

“Eat more hot foods and hot spices like black pepper, chili, ginger, cumin and cinnamon. Eat more cooked vegetables and less fat with meals. Sip hot herbal teas or warm ginger water throughout the day. Go easy on heavy, fatty foods like cheese, fried foods, ice cream, pastries/desserts, and nuts. Limit cold and carbonated drinks. Avoid overeating and heavy meals.

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Nancy Lonsdorf, MD, who has specific expertise in Ayurvedic practices

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