Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Eat well: The ayurvedic way of life

Ancient wisdom suggests if you start your meal with heavy and sweet food, then move on to the savory part, and finally finish off with salad, you'll digest better and also manage to keep the flab away.
Ayurvedic cooking is about foods that suit your dosha (constitution). It involves a balanced meal, which nourishes and fulfills the requirements of the body, builds immunity, heals the body, aids digestion and eliminates waste. To avoid contracting season-specific illnesses, ayurveda recommends seasonal diets to help the body acclimatise to the season; warm spices and heavy grains on cold winter days and lighter foods such as fruits and vegetable salads during summer.

How to Start....

To start with an ayurvedic way of life, have a good look at your current diet and try consuming foods with fewer preservatives, artificial colours and chemicals. Check out how much of frozen, fried and fermented foods form your diet and find out if you can replace them with freshly-cooked meals.
Identify your dosha (vata, pitta, kapha) based on your physical attributes and emotional strength. Doshas define the requirements of your body and lifestyle. If you have a thin, long frame, are lively, chatty and always on the move, you have a vata constitution. Try to include warm, moist ingredients like ghee, oils, ginger, garlic and eggs in your meals. People with a pitta dosha are intense, intelligent, and goal-oriented and have a vibrant complexion. They require cooling foods like coconut, lots of fluids, salads, greens and fruits to pacify their fiery nature. People with a kapha constitution are lazy, often bulky, calm and patient by nature. They benefit from warm, dry and light foods like besan, hot spices like cloves and black pepper, pungent flavours like ginger-lemon, garlic chutney and teas.

Ancient wisdom for modern minds

To achieve good health, it's essential to digest the meal and assimilate the nutrients well; mealtime plays an important role here. Eat when you're hungry, and follow the rhythms of nature. For instance, the digestive fire is weak late at night and stronger in midday and around sunset. Have an early dinner. Replace coated aluminum cooking vessels with pure iron or brass vessels.
Moreover, use spices that ignite the digestive fire but only in the amount required to induce hunger and digest the food. Excessive is again against nature and health. Eat heavy, sweet foods at the start of a meal, sour and salty in the middle, and bitter astringents, like salads, towards the end for easy digestion. Because sweet and heavy oils ignite fire, salty and sour flavours process the foods eaten, and bitter astringents subside the ignited fire to complete the process.


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