An ideal Ayurvedic diet purely depends on the individual’s body type, digestive capacity and the season of intake. Your diet also varies depending on the level of activity that you do. An ideal ayurvedic diet is also about maintaining the balance of the three vital forces in the body, namely, vata, pitta and kapha, through your diet. According to Dr. Isaac Mathai, Founder of Soukya Holistic Healing Centre in Bengaluru, an ideal ayurvedic diet includes two meals a day, preferably in the morning and before sunset in the evening. However, this is again dependent on the individual’s body constitution, digestive capacity and season of intake. But, mixing incompatible items should be strictly avoided. For example, milk and fish, honey and meat, vegetables and milk, curd and chicken, banana and buttermilk, and so on, he points out. Also, Dr. Mathai advises against intake of curd at night, and excessive use of salt.
It is the three vital forces, vata (wind), pitta (fire) and kapha (water) that maintain health and balance in the body. When they are in balance, the body remains healthy. But, when their balance is disturbed, it results in illness. The balance can be disturbed by internal causes like improper diet, and sometimes due to external causes like weather or injury, all of which leads to ill health.
According to Dr. Girija, Founder of Sanjeevani Ayurveda and Yoga Centre, Chennai, vata is responsible for all movements within the body, pitta implies heat, and is responsible for digestion, while kapha implies binding and stability of the body. An individual may be said to be belonging to vata, pitta or kapha body constitution, or a combination of two, depending on the individual’s body physique, likings, behavioural patterns and attitude.
As per Ayurvedic principles, it is essential to include all six tastes in your meals to keep you healthier, says Dr. Mathai. However, depending on your body constitution, certain tastes can impact in different ways. The humble and popular ‘kichari’, served in Indian households, which is a nutritious mix of beans and rice is a good tridoshic, and a perfectly balanced dish.
Intake of sweet, sour, salt is good for vata type, while these tastes may not go well with kapha type. On the other hand, bitter, astringent and pungent may be good for kapha type, but may not go well for a vata type. Astringent, sweet and bitter are recommended for pitta, he points out.
When choosing your diet, if you have a vata body constitution, include boiled or steamed starchy vegetables, dairy, ripe fruit, grains like rice and wheat, spices like ginger, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, fennel, cilantro and oregano in your diet.
If your dominant dosha is pitta, you could consider including cooling vegetables like cucumber, zucchini, some dairy, sweet fruit, most grains including rice, barley and oats, wheat, mild spices like coriander, cardamom, cloves and turmeric.
If you belong to kapha body constitution, you may choose to eat cooked rather than raw vegetables, warm drinks, fruits like apples, pears, cranberries, grains like millets and rye, and hot spices.
Apart from eating right based on your body type, Ayurveda also advises against excess dependence on fridge and microwave. This is because, according to ayurvedic way of eating, every meal should be freshly prepared and served warm. It is also good to ensure that vegetables used in the meals are seasonal, and locally produced.
This way, stepping back to this ancient way of eating, can actually bring back the lost balance to your body. The holistic approach to health can also help you in retaining your vitality, and keep you a happy person without much effort.