Ayurvedic food for a satisfying diet
Ayurvedic food for a satisfactory diet
Ayurveda’s Satisfaction Diet
Ayurveda, Uncategorized, Wellness / By Dr Harrison Graves, MD
Feel Better Today: Add More Tastes
Have you ever eaten to the bottom of a bag of salt and vinegar potato chips only to find yourself unsatisfied? Have you ever dug into a pint of Ben and Jerry’s, only to find yourself craving something that’s missing?
Welcome to the American diet. We attempt to use food, especially sweet and salty food, to find comfort in our country, yet find true satisfaction lacking. Ayurveda, the “Science of Life,” tells us that salt and sugar are only two of the six tastes the body needs to maintain optimum health and feel truly satisfied after meals.
Ayurveda holds six tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, spicy, and astringent. For optimum health, we need to taste them all every day. Each one has a specific energetic effect on the body. They can warm us up or cool us down. They can make us feel complacent or motivated. Taken together, the six tastes can lead the body and mind into perfect balance and create a sense of absolute satisfaction.
Sweet and salty may work well to instantly alleviate the anxiety (excess Vata) that comes with 24/7 multitasking. However, eating only these tastes and poor quality, to boot — has dire consequences for physical and mental health.
Mixing It Up
Getting all six tastes does not mean creating equality in volume: a little salt goes a long way. Nor does it mean having a six-course meal at every sitting. “Keep it simple,” recommends Patti Garland, a master Ayurvedic chef and owner of Bliss Kitchen in Palm Desert, California. “Eat leafy green vegetables every day, and drink a lassi. Play around with spices — turmeric, cumin, coriander, and fennel will expand your palate instantly. Add quick-cooking lentils, split mung beans, or red lentils to your diet. Have a whole grain. Put it all together in a bowl, or serve it in individual dishes in one sitting or over a day. Try to have your big meal at lunch when digestion is strongest.”
Curry and rice is a favourite dish served at our dining hall.
Moreover, whatever you are eating, pay attention. If you are craving food, ask yourself what it is you want. Craving can come out of habit or tell you about something your body needs — which may not be food. For example, you could be craving love and connection.
Once you find a bit of balance, your intuition will guide you to the right choices. Ayurveda is about conscious eating and pure satisfaction.
Stress and Craving: The Vicious Cycle
The entire American food industry has developed to serve and reinforce our cravings. They serve up sweet, sour, and salty and give it to us fast so we can return to doing whatever it was that created our imbalance. Then we get stressed and eat more sweet, sour, and salty. Such foods calm us, yes, but they make us feel heavy, tired, and depressed when we overdose.
“Our culture is consumed with the disease of overnutrition: high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity,” observes Thomas Yarema, MD, integrative physician and author of Eat-Taste-Heal. “We keep developing diet plans to deal with these problems,” says Yarema, “yet our success rates with heart disease and diabetes have been poor. Moreover, most of the diets we concoct to address the obesity problem — from low-fat to low-carb to grapefruit-only diets — fail in the end. As a result, we are confused about nutrition in modern times.”
Yarema offers this easy way to understand dosha dynamics: “The tastes of sweet, sour, and salty convert energy into matter,” he says. “Bitter, pungent, and astringent turn matter into energy. The diseases in Western culture all have to do with a deficiency in energy and an excess of matter (bodyweight).”
What is the cure, then, for what ails us? Where is a satisfaction to be found? First, balance the diet with more bitter, pungent, and astringent foods.
Eating for Fulfillment
In Ayurveda, when and where eating counts nearly as much as the what. Pay attention to the environment surrounding your food; you will be less likely to make poor choices or eat unconsciously.
Here are some expert tips for eating in balance:
Focus on the Food. “If you feel stressed, you might decide getting things done is more important than taking time for meals,” says Scott Blossom, yoga therapist and Ayurvedic practitioner. “But eating while multitasking only aggravates stress and imbalance.”
Say, Grace. “For your body to taste the food, it has to know it is going to eat,” says Suhas Kshirsagar, director of the Kerala Ayurveda Academy. “Sit down; close your eyes before your meal; give thanks for your food. It is not just a religious tradition but a physiological one.” Then, empower your food with healing mantras (like Om Namah Shivaya) by chanting during food preparation and before eating.
Adjust for Weather. You may notice that a hot, spicy soup tastes much better in winter than on a hot July day. If it is freezing outside, focus on warming foods. Cold drinks in the winter will inhibit your digestive fire.
Mary Roberson, PhD, founder of the Ayurvedic Center for Healthcare in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, says, “You can use common sense, as informed by Ayurvedic theory, to bring yourself into harmony with your environment.”
Rest and Digest
Ayurveda suggests eating a more substantial meal with all six tastes between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. A gentle walk after your dinner and a 10- to 15-minute rest gives the body a chance to digest.
Guests were walking on a nature trail on campus.
This article originally appeared on the Art of Living Retreat Center’s Website.
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