Ayurvedic Food for Better Health
Ayurveda is increasingly becoming more known for its nutritional guidelines, as science is now proving that many diseases arise from improper choice of food, digestion, assimilation and elimination. Ayurveda also plays an emphasis on the effect of diet on the mind – our thoughts, moods and emotions. The health of a person can be defined by a healthy digestive system, which depends on healthy eating habits – but this does not mean eating what is thought to be healthy! The most healthy meal can be a toxic meal if consumed in the wrong manner.
One of the most beautiful and wise points of Ayurveda is to accept and allow the individuality in us, within general health guidelines. Sometimes forgotten in modern thinking, it believes in the capacity of the person to know him/herself, be aware of their own tendencies and have a sense of responsibility. An Ayurveda doctor should always listen to the feedback of the patient, maybe helping translating a subjective experience into an objective one. Ayurveda understands that is not possible to point an ideal universal body weight, an ideal height, one food that is the healthiest, one medicine that works in all cases, one treatment that is always helpful, one way that anything should always be! We are different complex beings, with different backgrounds and reactions.
Unfortunately, this individuality concept has been over used in the popularisation of Ayurveda around the world. We see it with the ‘anti-dosha’ diets or the idea that some people should only eat specific foods and never others – the ‘eat by your dosha’ diets. In the classic texts we do not find such ideas of determined dosha diets. Ayurveda is a lifestyle and medicine that was developed many centuries ago. Now imagine if you have ten kids and, since each is different, you needed to cook ten different meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner in order to maintain health!? Such a difficult lifestyle would prove to be impractical and exaggerated and would definitely have failed the test of time!
Ayurveda has a very dynamic and balanced nutritional science; eating only a specific group of items and avoiding another could lead to imbalance and disease. An Ayurvedic meal must contain all tastes and follow the guidelines of times of the day. Overdoing any specific food, through the lens of Ayurveda, will lead to problems. Exceptions are open for those that are sick or undergoing treatment, cases that our doctors can access and guide into a specific and temporary diet regimen.
We have experience with many of our guests that could not eat some items but once health is restored with lifestyle changes and treatments they are able to digest and enjoy a more diverse and balanced diet.
Inside the general guidelines for the meal times we can point a few that we apply at Plantation Villa and that you can try at home.
Before a meal
- A meal should contain all six tastes – sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter and astringent. This can be done by adding spices to the cooking.
- Try to have fresh food, prepared on the day. At least one meal like this!
- The meal should be warm and with enough oil (like coconut, olive, ghee, or sesame). This can stimulate appetite, digestion and nutrition.
- Allow at least 3 hours between meals. Never eat something right after a previous meal.
- Eat only when hungry and avoid eating when stressed or emotionally overwhelmed.
- Try sticking to a timeline for meals.
- Try not eating right after waking up or right before going to sleep. One hour after waking up and three hours before bed can be a good measure.
During a meal
- Eat in a place that is clean, with enough light and comfortable.
- Eat mindfully, with full attention. Meals are traditionally social events, but try not talking too loud or laughing too much while eating.
- According to Ayurveda, you should neither eat too fast or too slow.
- A little bit of water during the meal is ok, but leave majority of the consumption for the intervals between meals.
- Food and digestion are, for Ayurveda, the most important acts we do – and also the major cause of diseases. Keep yourself in the best regard!
After a meal
- Avoid sleeping after a meal. Same goes for exercise, shower, staying under the sun or swimming. These can change circulation and disrupt digestion.
- A short and calm walk is recommended.
- When the individual is healthy and the meal was appropriate, there should be no feeling of heaviness, distention, pressure on the heart or lethargy. The senses should be pleased and absence of hunger or thirsty is felt