Ayurveda recognises that our digestion is the key factor in the development of poor health. When we eat the incorrect foods, too much or too little or in the wrong combinations we not only decrease our digestive fire (agni) but undigested food creates toxins in our body, which then travel through the bodily channels, resulting in various diseases and illnesses.
Depending on our unique body type, each person will require a different type of diet. For example, a person with a strong vata constitution or suffering vata imbalances may be trying to counteract the effects of dryness in the body by focussing on moist foods. A person who is dominant in kapha may be trying to counteract the heaviness of kapha with light and easy to digest foods. Your diet will also depend upon the time of day, as digestion can be stronger at times than others, and also the different seasons will require different eating patterns.
Some general dietary guidelines to follow are:-
*Eat as fresh as possible, try to cook just as much as you need for the day or at the most, the next day as well – old food has very little or no life force or prana.
*Avoid canned, preserved, frozen or microwave foods wherever possible, always eat the freshest food that is available to you.
*Be mindful of how your body feels and the strength of your appetite. Eat enough light foods to only just satisfy your appetite, do not keep eating and feel like you need to finish your plate. If you are eating heavy foods, eat enough to satisfy your appetite by half as foods that are heavy are difficult to digest. If you are ill, then only eat light foods.
Different foods have different effects on our body for example; foods can be heavy, light, heating, cooling, hot, cold etc. The combinations of food we eat are very important as the wrong combination of foods reduces the digestive fire and create toxins immediately.
*Do not mix milk and fruit or yoghurt and milk
*Avoid having milk when eating radishes, cherries, tomatoes, potatoes, bananas, melons, fish, meat, eggs, citrus fruits and bread.
*Do not mix any type of melon with other foods
*Avoid eating fresh fruit with any other meals; cooked fruits can be eaten with cooked meals
*Avoid eating different types of proteins together ie: Milk and eggs, meat and cheese etc.
*Avoid eating heavy and light foods in the same meal – some examples of heavy and light foods are:
– Heavy: Wheat, nuts and seeds, oats, salt, brown rice, salt, cucumber, onion, most fruits, beans, beef, fish, lamb, pork, eggs.
– Light: Buckwheat, corn, rye, lettuce, potato, tomato, apple, lentils, chicken, rabbit, cow’s milk.
Ayurveda recognises that foods and substances have different effects on the body and mind, and these can be grouped into three categories – Satvic, Rajasic and Tamasic.
Satva – Promotes clarity, harmony and balance in our body and mind.
*All spices, freshly cooked foods, fruits and vegetables, nuts, dried fruits and seeds, honey and jaggery, herbal teas, salads and fresh fruit juices.
Rajas – Increases energy and promotes action, promotes attachment, indulgence and gratification of the senses.
*Onion, garlic, salty food, ready to eat canned food, paneer, ice-cream, yeast, sour cream, basmati rice, pickles, vinegar, sugar.
Tamas – promotes dullness, inertia, heaviness and ignorance.
*Microwave foods, tea, coffee, drugs, beef, chicken, fish, pork, eggs, mushrooms, fried foods and frozen foods.