Finding nutrition in Ayurveda - balance
Ayurveda is the oldest natural medicine in the world and translated means “knowledge of life”. The ancient Indian teaching assumes that humans and their characters are made up of the three energies Kapha, Vata and Pitta. These bioenergies are also called “doshas” and are present in different proportions in every person. From birth, the three forces are in an individual balance. If this gets out of balance, it has an impact on our well-being and health. In this article The basics of Ayurveda are explained again in detail.
Due to the different energetic composition of our body and mind, what we consume every day also plays a major role in Ayurvedic teachings. In Ayurveda, nutrition should be adapted to our individual needs. You can find out exactly how this works in today's blog post.
Basics of Ayurvedic nutrition
In Ayurveda, nutrition and health are directly linked. It is primarily aimed at the right combination of foods. The sense of taste serves as the basis for this because we use it to determine the quality of the food and can determine the right diet for each individual.
Ayurveda differentiates between the tastes sweet, sour, salty, spicy, bitter and tart. Ideally, a good meal should contain each of the six flavors.
The alignment of food with the doshas also plays an important role in Ayurvedic nutrition. Because the doshas are responsible for how we absorb and utilize food. “Pitta” people are advised to eat less spicy, sour and salty foods. A “Vata” type should avoid flatulent foods such as cabbage or aged cheese, and the “Kapha” type should opt for tart and spicy dishes as well as light foods with lots of fruits and vegetables.
People who are dominated by different doshas should also eat different amounts of different foods. This explains that two people who eat the same thing react differently to it.
Which rules should I follow?
There are some tips and basic rules in Ayurvedic nutrition that you can follow (more on this below). However, these should not be viewed as too strict. You should always observe what is good for you and what is not. Ultimately, Ayurveda is also about perceiving yourself and your own body more intensively and finding an appropriate balance.
The basic conditions of nutrition in Ayurveda: timing, time, distance between food intake
It is emphasized that eating slowly, consciously and in portions is beneficial for maintaining our health. You should especially eat when you are really hungry. There are three to five hours between main meals. When it's time for the next meal, you shouldn't fill your stomach completely, but leave about ¼ of space.
Even if this sounds strict or difficult to implement at first, it's worth just giving it a try. Eating the main meals particularly slowly with longer breaks in between and eating “in moderation” has made a huge difference for me! I'm hardly tired after eating and I feel more energetic.
However, I still have difficulty with another point that is also highlighted in the Ayurveda diet. It's about eating consciously in a quiet and relaxed environment. While I eat, I like to “busy” myself with an episode of my favorite series or read while I’m at it. However, in doing so, you separate your own attention from the actual activity - namely eating. You quickly lose track of exactly what you consume, how and when. At this point, a little note to myself to put away my cell phone and laptop more often when eating.
Eating consciously also includes allowing yourself to sit quietly for five to ten minutes immediately afterwards. In Ayurvedic nutrition it is often emphasized that it is beneficial to always eat at approximately the same time (of the day) - which I can also confirm for myself!
About food and the food itself – some basic rules
- You work with fresh and/or carefully processed ingredients. In addition, emphasis is placed on high-quality, natural and regional food.
- In Ayurvedic cuisine you eat mostly warm.
- Cooked food forms the main component of meals. Raw vegetables should be used as a side dish - or if so, as lunch
- There are three main meals (morning, lunch, evening) with no snacks in between
- If possible, breakfast should be warm and light
- The main meal is at lunchtime (this should be eaten by 2 p.m.).
- In the evening, like breakfast, something light is eaten. Also avoid raw foods and animal proteins such as meat, cheese, yoghurt, eggs, etc. If you've had a bite, a hot water bottle can help to calm your stomach
- Ayurvedic cuisine emphasizes drinking. It is important to drink a lot, preferably (warm) water or ginger water. The general rule here is: hot drinks are always preferred to chilled drinks!
- The flavors sweet, sour, salty, bitter, spicy and tart should ideally all appear in one dish
- Spices are an absolute “do” in Ayurvedic cuisine because they have “healing powers”. The ten most important spices are: cloves, turmeric, ginger, cardamom, coriander, cumin, nutmeg, pepper, saffron and cinnamon
- However, use salt sparingly - and if salt, then rock salt
- Use honey and maple syrup instead of sugar. But do not heat honey (i.e. do not use it for cooking or baking)!
- Ghee is used instead of butter or oil because it cleans the tissue
- Avoid sweet and heavy foods
- Another “do”: legumes like lentils, chickpeas and mung beans. Plus: rice always works!
- Do not consume milk together with salty or acidic foods, fresh fruits or leafy vegetables - because from the perspective of Ayurveda, this promotes the formation of digestive toxins. Milk, on the other hand, goes well with cooked grains such as rice, oats or spelled
Is this even something for me?
If you're feeling a little overwhelmed right now, I totally understand. If you have completely different eating habits, the Ayurvedic diet may seem very strange at first. Nevertheless, if I were you, I would just give it a try. You quickly notice how good you feel!
Remember, you don't have to do everything immediately and perfectly correctly. Approach it slowly and initially view the “rules” as more of a guide than guidelines set in stone.
The nice thing about this diet is that not everyone is “prescribed” the same thing. We should individually listen more to the way our body feels - then we will notice more quickly what is actually good for us and what is not. And so the balance between body and mind can finally be restored.
And if you have tried it and realize that the diet of Ayurveda simply isn't for you or that your body needs something else, that's completely okay. We live in a wide variety of circumstances and environments. You do you!
If you would like to find out more about healthy eating, mindfulness, sustainability or family and pregnancy, check out more exciting blog articles on these topics here .