Ayurvedic Guide for Healthy Eating
Ayurvedic Guide for Healthy Eating
How to Eat and What to Eat – Dr Namitha Suseel B.A.M.S
You are what you eat.
The food you eat determines your health. Along with the quality and quantity of food, the way you eat food also plays a role in determining your health.
Ayurveda has set specific guidelines on how and what to eat.
In today’s scenario, it is a must to know and follow these guidelines as people are ignorant or less considerate and the diseases are on a hike. Lifestyle disorders have become an epidemic. Obesity is the major one among them. In prehistoric times starvation was the greatest threat to man while the epidemic of the present era is over nourishment. Hence it has become all the more important to follow proper dietary etiquette.
10 Rules of Healthy Eating:
- Have warm meals
The food should be taken warm as a specific temperature is required for the activation of digestive enzymes. The warmth provokes the digestive enzymes thus aiding digestion. It also helps in the downward passage of vata and detachment of kapha
- Have freshly cooked food
The food should be taken within 3 hrs after cooking. It starts losing its nutritional qualities after this time. In the present day situations, it might be hard but at least try to eat the food cooked in that day and not the reheated food taken from the refrigerator.
- Have shadrasa (6 tastes) diet
Food should contain all 6 rasas/tastes[sweet ,sour ,salty,bitter,astringent ,pungent/acrid ] with predominance of madhura rasa(sweet taste).
Then comes amla[sour] and lavana rasa[salty] which has to be taken in the middle of the food and in lesser quantity.
- Eat unctuous food
Oil-free and zero fat diets are considered best by most, But food should not be completely devoid of the oil or fat part. It should, of course, be limited but not completely excluded from your diet as they are essential for the proper functioning of the body.
- Eat the proper quantity of food
One should take the right quantity of food always (at all meal-times ) since it is the quantity which helps maintain proper digestive power. The amount of food to be taken depends on the heaviness and lightness of the foodstuff.
The recommended quantity of intake of food substances is :
- Heavy food items – half the amount of satiety or stomach capacity.
- Light food items – a quantity which does not cause much satiety, ie stop eating just before you have the feeling of fullness.
This quantity is also depended on the digestive power of an individual which varies from age, season and other conditions.
Food should neither be over consumed nor under-consumed. Both are unhealthy and leads to grave diseases.
When we hear of unhealthy food habit our mind suddenly things about obesity. Obesity has, of course, became an epidemic but there is also another problem with the same seriousness ., that is undernourishment. Today’s youth have been so obsessed with their body and the beautiful images provided by the media that they go after different diets and even starve themselves to death. This leads to various eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, etc.
8 Signs that show that you have exceeded the right quantity of food :
- Heaviness/pain of the abdomen.
- Difficulty in breathing on exertion or rest.
- Regurgitation of food.
- Bloated /distended abdomen.
- Post meal lethargy/sleepiness within 2 to 3 hrs.
- Delayed evacuation of bowel than normal.
- Lack of hunger for the next 8 to 12 hrs.
- Constipation/vomiting /diarrhoea
- Timely intake of food
Food should be taken only when the previously ingested food is fully digested. Time taken depends on the strength of one’s digestive fire.If one takes food before the previous meal is digested, the digestive product of the previous meal [immature rasa]gets mixed up with the food taken afterwards, resulting in the formation of toxins [ama] and vitiation of all the dosas.
When to eat food?
The following signs tell you that it’s time to have food:
- Belching becomes clear.
- Feces and urine get excreted.
- Stomach and mind becomes clear
- Dosas transverses on their right path.
- Hunger begins and vata functions properly.
- Digestive power increase.
- The body becomes lighter and capable of perceiving the senses.
- Avoid food with contradictory potencies
The foodstuffs that should not be combined and eaten together are called as viruddha ahara. These type of food combinations produces toxins in your body. Eg: Fish and Milk
The intake of fish and milk together causes obstinate skin diseases including leprosy.
- Eat mindfully
Give a short prayer of gratitude before having food. Concentrate on the food you eat. Do not talk, watch tv or phone while having food.
- Do not eat food too fast or too slow
When you sit down for your meal, try to savor every bite. Take your time and chew the food properly so that food mixes well with saliva and the salivary enzyme ptyalin can complete its part in digestion. Studies show that for starchy foods, 30% of digestion takes place in saliva.
Food should not be eaten too slowly as this will not give you satisfaction. The food would become cold, and there will be irregularity indigestion.
- Avoid the habit of taking food predominantly of pulses and vegetables[esp green leafy vegetables]and that which are extremely hot and salty like pickles.
This may sound awkward, but it is clearly mentioned in Ayurveda to limit the quantity of leafy veggies. It can be used as a side dish but not as a main dish.
3 Dreadful Asanas [ food habit]
- SAMASANA : Taking an admixture of desirable and undesirable food items.
- ADHYASANA : Taking food over and again the previous meal [before it gets digested].
- VISAMASANA : The food that has been taken untimely which is either excess or low.
These three unhealthy food habits are capable of causing death or deadly diseases.
7 Food That Can be Taken Regularly
- Cereals: Edibles prepared with grains like sali , sastika [two varieties of rice], wheat and yava [barley]
- Meat: Condiments prepared of meat of animals of jangala[arid/dry land] like
- Veggies: Immature radish, snake guard,vastuki[a type of spinach], jivanti.
- Pulses : Green gram.
- Fruits :Grapes,pomegranate,indian gooseberry,terminalia chebula
- Sugar, ghee, milk, honey, rock salt.
- Regular intake of Triphala mixed with honey and ghee is good for the health of eyes.
8 Food that Should Not be Taken Daily
- Meat : Dried meat, the meat of sheep, cow, buffalo and pork should not be taken daily. Consuming meat of animals of anupa desa[marshy habitat]along with anyone among black gram, milk, honey, sprouted cereals, pulses, radish and jaggery is considered to be viruddha (incompatible). These combinations should never be used as they produce toxicity when combined.
- Dry vegetables tuberous roots, black gram, bean, uncooked radish, the fiber of lotus.
- Boiled buttermilk, inspissated milk [condensed milk], curd
- Sprouted seeds/cereals: Nowadays it is considered very healthy to eat sprouted seeds/cereals daily. Even though many don’t like its taste, they eat it considering its health benefits. However, it is clearly said in Ayurveda not to take them daily.
- Sweets prepared by grinding cereals.
Food that Vitiates Blood
Yes, blood gets vitiated by improper food regimen. Blood gets vitiated by the intake of :
- Unwholesome, hot and sharp wine and food in large quantity.
- Exceedingly saline, alkaline, acidic and pungent food.
- Kulattha [horse gram], masa[black gram],nispava[flat bean ] and til oil[sesame oil].
- Pindalu [ ] and all green eatables like radish etc..
- Meat of aquatic, marshy and prasaha types of animals[and animals living in holes.
- Curd, sour whey, vinegar, wine and sauviraka type of liquor.
- Rotten, putrefied food articles and those having mutually contradictory qualities [viruddha ahara].
- Any other type of food in excessive quantity.Blood also gets vitiated by,
Sleeping during day time after taking liquid, unctuous and heavy food. Taking food before the previous meal is completely digested.
There are 8 factors that determine the quality of the food :
- PRAKRITI – Nature of the food article.
- KARANA – Method of processing
- SAMYOGA – Combination
- RASI – Quantity
- DESA – Habitat
- KALA – Time
- UPAYOGASAMSTA – Rules governing intake of food
- UPAYOKTRN – wholesomeness of the individual who takes it.
Let’s peek into each factor:
It indicates the inherent qualities of the substance.
For example, the black gram is heavy whereas green gram is light.
Processing results in the transformation of the inherent nature of the food article.
It is affected by dilution, application of heat, cleansing, churning, storing, maturing, flavoring, impregnation, preservation, container, etc.
The combination of two or more substances results in the manifestation of specific attributes which cannot be manifested by individual elements.
E.g: Honey and Ghee
Neither honey nor ghee is poisonous. But when combined in equal quantities become poisonous
It includes the quantity of the total food intake and also the quantity of each of its ingredients
Desa / habitat of the foodstuff determines its quality.
E.g., chilly grown in cold climatic places like Kashmir is of less pungent and hot potency than that grown in tropical areas.
It stands for the time in the form of day and night and the states of the individual [viz.condition of health and age].
Some food items like curd should not be taken at night and also when one has kaphaja type of diseases.
These are the dietetic rules [mentioned earlier] that one should follow to stay healthy.
Upayoktrn is he who takes food.
Some food articles will be ok for some persons while the same might cause discomfort for others. People residing in one area will be habituated to a certain kind of food and food preparation. Indians usually eat spicily and masala food while an American might find it very hard to eat. They might have stomach upset if they eat too spicy food.
People with lactose intolerance cannot have milk or any dairy products.
Wholesome food taken even in proper quantity do not get appropriately digested when the individual is afflicted with grief, fear, anger, sorrow, excessive sleep and excessive vigil.
Give the key of your health to your gut and not your tongue alone.
The food should be not only wholesome but also pleasant to the eyes, nose, and tongue. If the food is only wholesome, but not delicious, then this does not provide nourishment to the senses and their objects in the body instantaneously. According to the ayurvedic philosophy, the sense organs are composed of five mahabhutas, and these mahabhutas get denuded every moment. Their continued replacement through food is considered to be essential for the maintenance of health.
Eat healthy and live healthy.