Ayurvedic diet comes from Ayurveda which comes from the ancient Vedic texts, is a 5,000-year-old medical philosophy and practice, predicated on the idea that we all are made up of different types of energy.
Ayurvedic diet considers the three doshas described in Ayurveda, the dominant mind/body state: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. While all three are present in everyone, Ayurveda proposes that we each have a dominant dosha that’s unwavering from birth, and ideally an equal (though often fluctuating) balance between the other two. When the doshas are balanced, we are healthy; when they are unbalanced, we develop disease, which is usually made manifest by skin issues, poor digestion, insomnia, irritability, and anxiety.
This is the principle that recognizes that each human being is born with unique combinations of doshas, and that this natural balance is what is responsible for physical, mental, and emotional difference among people. By identifying and maintaining an individual’s Prakruti, Ayurveda can help each person create his or her own state of ideal health.
Dosha: Vata (Air & Space)
Vatas tend to be more spacey, anxious, with active minds. They speak quickly, and are likely to have joints that crack. Vata influences the movement of thoughts, feelings, prana flows, nerve impulses, and fluids in the body.
Cold, light, dry, irregular, rough, moving, quick, and always changing. Vata governs movement in the body, the activities of the nervous system, and the process of elimination. Vata influences the other doshas. Vatas tend to always be on the go, with energetic and creative minds. When Vatas are in balance, they are lively and enthusiastic.
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF VATA:
Thin, light frame, and excellent adaptability. Their energy comes in bursts, and they are likely to experience sudden bouts of fatigue. Vatas typically have drink skin and cold hands and feet. They sleep lightly and their digestion can be sensitive. When imbalanced, Vatas tend to experience weight loss, constipation, arthritis, weakness, restlessness, aches, and pains.
EMOTIONAL CHARACTERISTICS OF VATA:
Vatas love excitement and new experiences. They are quick to anger but also to forgive. They are energetic, creative, and flexible. They also take initiative and are lively conversationalists. When imbalanced, Vatas are prone to worry, anxiousness, nervousness, and often suffer from insomnia. When they feel overwhelmed or stressed, their response is: “What did I do wrong?”
HOW VATAS CAN STAY BALANCED:
Follow the dietary guidelines in the diet below.
- Maintain a consistent daily routine and keep exercises both gentle and regulated.
- Find time for rest and to nurture themselves. Be in a calm, safe, and comforting environment.
- Have regular Ayurvedic massages as this is soothing and grounding for Vatas.
- Avoid very cold and windy conditions, as well as dry climates.
- Minimize travel and too much movement; avoid loud and noisy places as well as crowds and too much talking.
- Keep warm and get enough sleep.
Vata is a cold and dry dosha; warm, nourishing foods with moderately heavy texture, plus added butter and fat are good for stabilizing Vata. Choose salty, sour, and sweet tastes as well as soothing and satisfying foods. Warm milk, cream, butter, warm soups, stews, hot cereals, fresh baked bread, raw nuts, and nut butters are good for Vatas.
Take a hot or herbal tea with snacks in the late afternoon. All sweet fruits (so long as they are extra-ripe) are OK for Vata. Warm drinks or hot water are best for Vatas.
Spices: Cinnamon, cardamom, cumin, ginger, cloves, and garlic are all OK for Vatas.
FOODS TO REDUCE:
Cold foods such as salads, iced drinks, raw vegetables and greens are not good for those with Vata imbalance (i.e. where Vata is dominant). Avoid drinks with too much caffeine and candies as they disturb Vata. Avoid unripe fruits, as they are too astringent.
Vata Food Plan:
These guidelines can be used for Vata mind-body constitutions, to maintain dosha balance, and to restore balance if necessary, regardless of the basic constitution.
BEST VEGETABLES (cooked):
Asparagus, beets, carrots, cucumber, garlic, green beans, onions, sweet potatoes, radishes, and turnips.
VEGETABLES IN MODERATION (cooked)
Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, eggplant, leafy green vegetables, mushrooms, peas, peppers, potatoes, sprouts, tomatoes, zucchini. Avoid raw vegetables, in general.
BEST FRUITS (well-ripened):
Bananas, apricots, avocados, berries, cherries, coconut, fresh figs, grapefruit, lemons, grapes, mangoes, sweet melons, sour oranges, papaya, pineapple, peaches, plums, stewed fruits.
FRUITS IN MODERATION:
Cranberries, pears, pomegranates. Avoid dried fruits, in general and all unripe fruit.
Oats (as cooked oatmeal cereal, not dry), cooked rice.
GRAINS IN MODERATION:
Wheat, barley, buckwheat, corn, dry oat, millet.
All Dairy is acceptable.
Chickpeas, mung beans, Pink lentils, Tofu (small amounts)
BEANS IN MODERATION:
Kidney beans, black beans, etc.
Sesame oil, Ghee and olive oil are especially good.
All sweeteners are acceptable.
NUTS AND SEEDS:
All are acceptable in small amounts. Almonds are best.
HERBS & SPICES:
Avoid using spices in large quantities. Minimize or avoid all bitter and astringent herbs and spices such as coriander seed, fenugreek, parsley, and thyme. Saffron and turmeric should be used in moderation.
Smoked Aubergine Soup
The smoky eggplant and bright lime juice balance each other perfectly in this simple, warming soup.
Makai Paneer Ki Bhurji
It may look like scrambled eggs, but this unique sautéed Indian cheese dish is so much more versatile. With fresh cilantro, squeaky cheese, earthy cumin seeds, and spicy chili, this Makai Paneer is our new favorite dish for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
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