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What to Eat When Living the Ayurveda Lifestyle

I don't think it would be wrong for me to assume that what might put people off of Ayurveda is that it seems drastic, requiring you to give up too much of your life that you'd rather just not even try.


That is how it was for me before I truly understood what Ayurveda was all about. Ayurveda does not want to make you feel like you are giving anything up, but rather focusing on the things that will add value to your life. That'll make you feel like living better, eating better and overall just being better. You just need the right information, that's what I'm here for. Here's all the information you need to incorporate an Ayurveda lifestyle.


fresh green vegetables



Woman preparing food

According to Ayurveda, eating is one of the most vital functions of the body. We all already know that to have a healthy body and mind, we should eat nourishing, whole foods. According to Ayurveda, the perfect diet includes fresh foods that are appropriately prepared and eaten with awareness.


Ayurveda believes that every human being consists of five elements of nature: Ether, Air, Fire, Water and Earth. We are all born with a different combination and certain degree of these elements. The three combinations of the elements (aka doshas) are:

  • Vata: ether + air

  • Pitta: fire + water

  • Kapha: water + earth


Graphic image of the ayurvedic doshas and the elements that represent them

When you know your leading dosha, you can create a balanced lifestyle according to your dosha. This means you become more aware of the food you eat, the time you rest, the exercise you choose to do and the overall life you are meant to live.


A simple way to know you are getting a balanced diet is to include all of the six Ayurvedic tastes in every meal. By doing this, you ensure that all major food groups and nutrients are present. When all of these tastes are included in a meal, we tend to feel more satisfied and the urge to snack or overeat diminishes. The six Ayurvedic tastes are:

  1. Sweet

  2. Salty

  3. Sour

  4. Spicy

  5. Bitter

  6. Astringent

Details of the 6 Ayurvedic tastes

Here are a few foods to eat for each dosha:

Vata Characteristics: Vatas are creative, energetic and expressive. They are light sleepers and usually have thin frames. When out of balance, this dosha will suffer from restlessness and weakness.

  • Fruits: most sweet fruits, such as cooked apples, bananas, berries, mangoes, peaches, pineapples, fresh dates and figs

  • Vegetables: cooked vegetables, including asparagus, beets, carrots, sweet potatoes, onions, radishes, turnips and green beans

  • Grains: quinoa, rice, oats

  • Legumes: red lentils, chickpeas, mung beans

  • Dairy: most forms of dairy are acceptable, including butter, cheese and milk

  • Meat: poultry and seafood in small quantities

  • Nuts and seeds: all nuts and seeds are fair game

  • Herbs and spices: all, including basil, cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, garlic, ginger, oregano and thyme

Pitta Characteristics: Pittas are intelligent, ambitious and sharp-witted. They’re deep sleepers for short periods of time, have athletic body types and are usually warm. When out of balance, Pittas may suffer from skin rashes, heartburn and indigestion.

  • Fruits: sweet and fully ripe fruits like bananas, cherries, coconuts, oranges, melons, pears, pineapples, plums and raisins

  • Vegetables: sweet and bitter vegetables like asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, cucumbers, green beans, leafy greens, mushrooms, peas, potatoes, squash and sweet potatoes

  • Grains: barley, oats, quinoa, wheat and white rice

  • Legumes: black beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, lentils and mung beans

  • Dairy: butter (unsalted), cheese (soft), ghee and milk

  • Meat: chicken, freshwater fish, rabbit, shrimp and turkey

  • Nuts and seeds: almonds (soaked and peeled), coconut and flaxseed

  • Herbs and spices: basil, cinnamon, ginger, mint, saffron and turmeric

Kapha Characteristics: Kaphas are nurturing, calm and thoughtful. They are sound sleepers who enjoy routine and have solid body frames. When out of balance, this dosha may become overweight or depressed and sleep excessively.

  • Fruits: apples, apricots, berries, pears and pomegranates. Dried fruits are also good for Kaphas, including figs, prunes and raisins.

  • Vegetables: asparagus, beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, eggplant, garlic, leafy greens, mushrooms, onions, peas, peppers, potatoes and radishes

  • Grains: barley, buckwheat, corn, millet, oats (dry) and rye

  • Legumes: most are acceptable including black beans, chickpeas, lentils and white beans

  • Dairy: goat’s milk and soy milk

  • Meat: chicken, fish (freshwater), rabbit, shrimp and turkey (white)

  • Nuts and seeds: sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and flax seeds

  • Herbs and spices: any, including black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, paprika, saffron and turmeric

Now that you know what you should be eating for your dosha's optimum balance, here's a list of foods to avoid:

Vata

  • Fruits: most dried fruits, including dates, figs, raisins and prunes, as well as raw apples, cranberries, pears, pomegranates and watermelon

  • Vegetables: frozen or raw vegetables, as well as cooked broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, potatoes and tomatoes

  • Grains: barley, buckwheat, corn, millet, quinoa, rye and wheat

  • Legumes: beans and chickpeas

  • Dairy: yogurt

  • Meat: lamb, pork, rabbit and venison

Pitta

  • Fruits: most sour fruits, including berries, grapefruit, grapes, lemon and rhubarb

  • Vegetables: beets, chili peppers, eggplant, garlic, onions and tomatoes

  • Grains: corn, millet, rice and rye

  • Legumes: soy

  • Dairy: butter (salted), cheese (hard), sour cream and yogurt

  • Meat: beef, duck, fish (sea), lamb and pork

  • Nuts and seeds: almonds (with skin), cashews, chia seeds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, pistachios, sesame seeds and walnuts

  • Herbs and spices: bay leaf, cayenne, garlic, nutmeg, oregano, paprika, rosemary, sage, salt and thyme

Kapha

  • Fruits: bananas, coconuts, dates, grapefruit, kiwi, oranges, pineapple, plums and watermelon

  • Vegetables: cucumber, olives, pumpkin, sweet potatoes and zucchini

  • Grains: oats (cooked), rice and wheat

  • Legumes: soy beans, kidney beans and miso

  • Dairy: butter, cheese, milk and yogurt

  • Meat: beef, duck, fish, lamb, pork and turkey (dark)

  • Nuts and seeds: cashews, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, pistachios, sesame seeds and walnuts

  • Herbs and spices: salt


These lists of foods to eat and avoid should be taken as guidelines. Not everyone can follow this perfectly, I can't even follow it. I'd recommend rather to adjust according to what suits YOU. If you find that eating a certain vegetable is making you feel unwell or unsettled for example, it might be worth considering eliminating it from your diet for a while to see how your body responds.


Woman preparing food

Some other things to bare in mind, it's not only what you eat but also how you eat them. Here are some guidelines to keep in mind on when to eat your meals:


  • Breakfast: The first meal of the day should be eaten before 8 a.m. (Yep, that means on weekends too.) And you should always eat breakfast, and all other meals, according to the season.

  • Lunch: Lunch should ideally be consumed between noon and 12:30 p.m. and should never be eaten after 2 p.m. This should be the largest meal of the day.

  • Dinner: Have your evening meal before 7 p.m. It should be the lightest meal of the day since your digestion may not be as sharp as it was in the daytime. If you have to eat later, pick a time and stick to it—aim to keep mealtimes regular.


While these are just guidelines and may not be feasible for everyone. Adjust the timing of your meals to fit your lifestyle and just make sure that you stick to it. So if you normally eat lunch at 1pm, ensure you eat lunch everyday at that time. Regularity of meals is key, not necessarily this specific time.


Please also consider that if you are suffering from any specific health issues, speak to a medical professional regarding any drastic diet changes you might be making and how this will affect your treatment process.


Now that I have gotten all out the information and disclaimers out of the way, I hope this was helpful for you and as always, feel free to reach me here by leaving a comment or check in on me over on Instagram, here.

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