„What in the world should I eat?!”
With all the tips from nutritionists and social media, it can get difficult and frustrating to answer this question. All the time, there’s a new diet trend and THE epiphany about what makes you stay fit and healthy.
The bad news: Ayurveda won’t tell you exactly what to eat. Ayurveda invites you to get to know yourself and your body better and then eat according to your very own constitution.
Unfortunately, many people think ayurvedic nutrition is complicated and that they would need to buy exotic ingredients and cook complex meals if they wanted to try it. Most of them don’t even try because of that – and that’s really a pity. Because – and that’s the good news – ayurvedic nutrition guidelines are very simple and can support your overall wellbeing.
Here are five easy ayurvedic nutrition tips that you can try anytime – even if you’re not a pro in the kitchen and if you don’t have a lot of time.
Learn to listen to your body
This tip alone goes to show how undogmatic ayurvedic guidelines are. In Ayurveda, we think that there’s not only one solution for everyone, and that something that’s good for Person A doesn’t automatically have to be good for Person B as well.
The challenge: nowadays, we often have forgotten to listen to our body and its needs. Usually it tells you what it wants and what feels good – you just need to listen!
This skill is called somatic intelligence. To cultivate it, you need to be mindful: When are you really hungry? What do you really crave? How do you feel after a meal? Click here to read more about somatic intelligence and how to increase it.
Pay attention to mealtimes
The times of day are also under the influence of the Doshas. In certain timeframes of the day and the night, one dosha is dominant, which is then especially present in our body.
From 10 am to 2 pm, Pitta is very active. This means that our digestion is the most active during this time, so meals and nutrients can be absorbed in the best possible way. Therefore, it’s ideal to have your main meal during this time. No worries if you’re working shifts: There’s another Pitta timeframe from 10 pm to 2 am.
Pay attention to hunger, not appetite
Again, the somatic intelligence comes into play with this one. It’s way too often that we eat just because the cafeteria is open or because our colleagues are going and we want to join.
Once we’re eating, we often don’t realize when we’re full. When we’re stressed while eating or do something else at the same time, we miss our body’s signals. Furthermore, we’ve been taught that it’s proper behavior to clear the plate, so we feel bad if we leave something.
Try to eat only if you’re really hungry and stop when you’re full. To achieve this, eat slower and more mindfully so that you notice when a feeling of satiety arrives.
This tip sounds like a mean diet rule, but it has a very understandable background: We want to give our body enough time to digest the previous meal before we eat the next one. Usually, that takes about 3-5 hours. If we don’t give it that time, metabolic waste, also called Ama, can remain in the body that can make us sluggish and lead to ailments.
Get to know the flavors
“Get to know flavors? I already know what my food tastes like!”, is what you might be thinking now. In Ayurveda, it’s a little more complex than that.
From an ayurvedic point of view, there are six flavors: sweet, salty, sour, pungent, bitter, astringent. It’s ideal when a meal includes all six of them. That’s how we balance the doshas and cover important nutrients.
Here are some examples which foods belong to which flavor category:
Sweet: grains, dairy, most fruits
Sour: lemon, rose hip
Salty: sea salt, rock salt, saline salt
Pungent: chili, ginger, horseradish
Bitter: cacao, wormwood, fresh turmeric
Astringent: rhubarb, black tea, lingonberries
Feel free to experiment with the flavors and maybe use ingredients you wouldn’t normally use. Don’t put pressure on yourself, but make it playful. That way, it’s fun and you might discover some delicious new dishes.
Do you still think trying out ayurvedic nutrition guidelines is complicated? I hope I could convince you otherwise!