Ayurveda lays down extensive guidelines for a healthy lifestyle. Focus on nutrition is one of its essential components. Some of the essential ayurvedic guidelines on nutrition are as mentioned below.
Eating in sync with the prakriti:
The vata dosha has cold, dry and light qualities. So, an individual with vata prakriti should avoid dry and light food items to counterbalance the excess of these qualities. Lubricating substances such as oily, sweet, sour and salty items are advised. Leafy veggies, mushrooms and potatoes are okay for people with vata prakriti. Tomato is best consumed in low quantity or better still if avoided.
An individual with pitta dosha has hot, oily and liquid qualities. Excess stomach acid can be formed if the hot quality is combined with the liquid quality. So, cold items having sweet, bitter and astringent taste should be preferred over oily, spicy and sour foods.
A person with kapha prakriti should avoid sweet, sour (e.g. pickle) and salty foods that increase the bulk and moisture in the body, and prefer hot, spicy foods since kapha qualities include cool, heavy and wet.
Quantity of food consumed:
One has to always eat a little less than the full stomach. If the food taken is properly digested in time without impairing health, it is the proper quantity. Heaviness, pain in the abdomen, lethargy, is an indication of overeating.
Eating in excess of the required amount produces ama and leads to disorders like obesity, hypertension, diabetes, joint disorders and heart diseases.
Light foods such as green gram dal, dalia, khichdi, plain curds, rice all stimulate the digestive fire (agni). They are harmless foods and can be consumed in quantities till it satisfies oneís appetite. On the other hand, heavy foods such as sesame, nuts, flour preparations, black gram, meats, fish and eggs are heavy to digest and do not stimulate the gastric fire. For that matter, banana is also a heavy food according to Ayurveda and it should be consumed in moderation or avoided.
The time of food consumption:
In Ayurveda, emphasis is laid on the fact that food should only be consumed once the food taken earlier is digested. This is experienced by -
► A pure feeling Ė not acid or pungent taste
► Feeling of enthusiasm
► Proper passage of urine, flatus and feces
► Feeling of lightlessness in the body
► Feeling of hunger and thirst
There should be a gap of three hours between two meals as it affects digestion. At the same time, food should be consumed within six hours of earlier food intake.
Kind of food eaten:
Certain food articles in Ayurveda are beneficial for all types of prakritis. They are -
► Red shali rice (rice with red colored bran) among grains
► Green gram or moong dal among pulses
► Cow milk among milks
► Ghee from cow milk among ghee
► Sesame oil among oils
► Grapes among fruits
► Rock salt among salts
► Ginger among bulbs
► Barley, wheat, honey, amla, pomegranate, amaranth, and snake gourd among other foods
References:1. Dr Vasant Lad & Usha Lad. ďAyurvedic Cooking For Self HealingĒ. The Ayurvedic Institute. Albuquerque, NM, 2003.
2. Dr S.P Kinjawadekar. ďHundred Years of Happy and Healthy Life through Ayurveda and YogaĒ, Swami Prakashananda Ayurvedic Reserch Centre, Mumbai, 2002.
3. Dr Pratap Chuhan, Jiva Ayurveda.
4. Sharadini Dahanukar & Urmila Thatte Ė ďAyurveda UnravelledĒ2005