We are fascinated by food (as if that isn’t obvious), as well as how food is cooked, shared and enjoyed in different cultures and traditions. A few weeks ago we looked at the practice of food energetics which has its roots in Taoist philosophy and traditional Chinese medicine, so this week we’re taking a look at another philosophy and tradition, Ayurveda. Here in the UK, Ayurveda is gaining increased attention with a list of celebrity and foodie followers as well as restaurants and cookbooks offering the opportunity to cook and enjoy Ayurvedic inspired food.
Ayurveda is the oldest known medical system and is practiced in India, alongside Western medicine to treat illness and promote health. It’s not just about the remedies, but also about diet, exercise and lifestyle practices. Ayurvedic eating also involves diagnosing and eating for your ‘dosha’ or your dominant energy. Doshas dictate the types of food best suited to your constitution, and before launching into an Ayurvedic eating plan it is important to diagnose your dosha, which is best done with the help of an Ayurvedic practitioner. We are by no means experts in diagnosing doshas or developing Ayurvedic eating plans, but we wanted to share 5 tips for learning to eat the Ayurvedic way.
Ayurveda calls these ‘naturally intelligent’ foods and says that our bodies are designed to recognise and best process foods that are closest to nature, meaning that our bodies cannot process and use GMOs, preservatives and refined food sources as they are lacking in natural intelligence. As such, an Ayurvedic diet in rich in whole foods like pulses, grains and veg and organic is also a must. After all, as the old adage goes, you are what you eat.
This means taking a few deep breaths, before diving in, to consider your food and perhaps how it came to be on your plate, as well as savouring each mouthful and chewing slowly and deliberately. This means no eating on the go and no wolfing down your food glutinous gulps.
Each meal should include foods that are sweet, salty, sour, bitter, pungent and astringent, flavours that represent the six rasas, forming the perfect balance. Ideally, there is also an order in which you should enjoy these flavours within your meal with sweet (eg fruit) at the beginning, then salty (eg seaweed) and sour (eg vinegars, citrus, etc) and finish with pungent (eg onions or peppers), astringent (eg green apples or tea) and bitter (eg celery, kale, or green leafy vegetables).
This involves listening to your body and it’s hunger cues. Don’t eat too little, leaving yourself feeling hungry and equally, don’t eat until you feel overly full and fit to burst.
Ayurvedic guidelines suggest waiting at least three hours between meals in order to give your digestive system an opportunity to digest. Guidelines also recommend not leaving gaps longer than six hours between meals and lunch should be your biggest meal of the day.
Stay tuned for our feature on Ayurvedic inspired restaurants...