Getting started with Ayurvedic Diet
Getting started with Ayurvedic Diet in 6 easy steps
According to Ayurveda (What is Ayurveda?) an inappropriate diet can possibly be the reason of many widespread ailments. Modifying your eating habits to suit your person and help your digestion will help your general well-being immensely including the ability to cope better with whatever hurdles your everyday life might put in your way. And while learning Ayurveda usually seems an daunting task the good thing is that you don’t have to learn all about Ayurveda or spend all your money for courses; even a little bit helps to get further.
Ayurveda recommends doing all changes gradually and never force yourself to anything. Listen to your body and let it guide you. Start with the things that seem easiest and most natural to you and observe the subtle effects this will have. Every single step (no matter which they are or in what order) will naturally take you to the next as your body adjusts and you are getting more and more used to listening to its needs.
The following list is only a recommendation that many people ﬁnd easy and natural to follow; it may serve you as an orientation if you’re feeling overwhelmed by all those Ayurvedic principles. Don’t take it as the only way possible or a policy that you strictly have to stick to — if any other thing comes more easily to you, by all means, follow your own path. If you don’t feel comfortable with a certain thing, leave it out for the moment and try something else instead; it might come to you later even if you don’t believe it now.
Have a closer look at your ingredients and try getting less chemicals, preservatives, artiﬁcial colors. Also see if you can replace some frozen, fried or fermented foods with a fresh alternative. How about baked potatoes instead of french fries?
Take your time:
Try to make some time in your schedule for your meals (not only eating but a bit afterwards as well) where you can relax, enjoy and focus on your food without interruption. A bit silence or relaxing music can’t hurt or a few sunrays and fresh air if you’re trapped in an ofﬁce all day. By making your meals little highlights of the day you’ll naturally pay them more attention, be aware of what you eat and what your body most craves instead of cramming in whatever is in closest reach. This way, you’ll easily learn to listen to your body — and probably be surprised how often you want healthy fresh things more than the burger around the corner.
See what is good for you
Get familiar with the concept of “Gunas” (Don’t worry, it’s not difﬁcult):
- “Sattvic” foods in general are the fresh, organic, juicy, tasty, easy to digest and freshly made ones – they promote a clear and focused state of mind, so try and get some more of these. - “Rajasic” foods support physical endurance and promote a resolute state of mind – we require them to keep things going.Garlic, chile, caffeine, eggs, alcohol and high quality meat as well as fermented and freshly canned foods all belong in this category. - “Tamasic” foods give us a desire to ﬁnish and rest; they require a lot of energy to digest and can potentially put the mind in a dull state. Onions, mushrooms, meat, leftovers, alcohol (its long term effect) and fermented as well as frozen foods all have tamasic qualities and should be reduced. Don’t get me wrong, we also need rajasic and tamasic foods – they’re certainly not “bad” – but in our Western culture we’re probably already getting more than enough of those. Read more about The Three Gunas in Ayurveda.
Learn about yourself
At some point it’s helpful to get advise from an Ayurvedic practitioner to tackle your more subtle imbalances. If you don’t have one near you try learning as much as you can about yourself by observation: yourself should know what’s best for you but you probably have to learn how to listen to your body. (That’s where an Ayurvedic practitioner can help you should you struggle with this concept.) You could start by doing a test to ﬁnd out your Dosha which can give you an idea, but this should really only be a starting point. Whilst learning about Ayurveda you’ll see that most of the principles are categorised for the sake of learning, but always keep in mind that in reality everything is interconnected and the transitions between one state and another are seamless.
If you’re at a point where you have a good understanding of the general things that agree with you, support you, give you an energetic and positive feeling you could start and try ﬁne-tuning your diet so that it supports your personal type. You can achieve this by cleverly spicing your foods according to your Dosha, ﬁnding or creating recipes specially for your type or simply adjusting the things you eat a bit more to include more of what’s good for you personally.
Don’t try to be perfect. Don’t start categorising foods in good and bad drawers — Ayurveda is not about excelling in a healthy diet and/or lifestyle. It’s about living in harmony with yourself and your environment. There will always be something more to learn and something to tweak but don’t get lost and stressed in details. Just continue listening to your body, it will tell you what needs to be adjusted.