Are you thinking of moving to a more Ayurvedic way of eating? That’s great to hear. Ayurveda is equipped with food principles to easily guide your mind and body to perfect balance.
Ayurveda views good health in terms of the strength of your digestion – otherwise known in the Veda (or Agni, in Sanskrit). Agni is fuelled (most often) by what we eat, so imagine your digestive power to be like a fire, building and transforming your food into nutrients. You want a strong burning flame, digesting food well, distributing nutrients to every cell of your body and burning off the waste products.
If you’re ready to help strengthen your digestive system, prevent disease and promote health and longevity, here are my top six ways to start.
1. Try and eat seasonally
Nature provides us with food that is beautifully balancing for the season so the more we follow the natural rhythms of the year, the more we’ll naturally find balance.
In Autumn and early Winter try and go for foods that are sweet, sour and salty, such as sweet potatoes, beets and pumpkins, cooked in soups, stews and dhals. Add a little more fat and protein into your diet with fruits like avocado, and try to avoid foods that are pungent, bitter and astringent in taste.
Spring is the time for the pungent, bitter and astringent flavours. We should minimise foods that are sweet, sour and salty in taste, and favour seasonal greens such as kale, spinach and green beans which are all great steamed or in brothy soups.
In Summer it’s important to opt for cooler foods that are sweet, bitter and astringent in taste. Add kale, cucumber and asparagus to your salads and fruits such as mango, grapes and berries to smoothies. Eat less foods that are pungent, spicy, sour and salty.
2. Understand the Ayurvedic clock
Agni is associated with the Pitta Dosha and the sun because they are both naturally hot. By eating your largest meal at lunchtime between 10am and 2pm, the sun is at its hottest and the body is able to digest food more easily. This is one of the ways Ayurveda connects the mind and body to the environment. Breakfast and dinner should be lighter.
3. Freshly cooked, warm foods can be more positive than raw, cold foods
You’ll usually find that it’s best to feed the fire with foods that are already cooked – this way our bodies don’t have to work as hard to cook it itself. Foods that are naturally warm and oily such as vegetable soups and dahls are more easily digested than raw foods.
4. Add spices to aid digestion
Spice blends have so many benefits, including improving digestion and helping to break down the heaviness of food. They also have great qualities – such as cooling or heating, lightening or heavy-making, calming or stimulating – that you can alter depending on how you are feeling.
5. Sip hot beverages
Like any fire, the digestive system gets extinguished when we put icy cold substances into it, such as chilled soft drinks and juices. It’s kindled by warm beverages, so try sipping more of these through your day. Drinks like hot water, ginger tea and herbal teas are recommended in Ayurveda as they also help flush out any toxins that are lurking – so try upping your intake.
6. Eat with awareness and gratitude
Ayurveda teaches us that it’s not always about what you eat but how you eat. Eating with
awareness and being grateful for whatever it is you are eating is vital for the mind and body.
In summary, try making conscious decisions about what you put into your body. When we aren’t listening to our natural rhythms, we often mindlessly consume… and it doesn’t always make us feel good. Why not try adding some of these principles to your life and see how quickly you feel the difference!