An Ayurvedic Diet
Imagine your food as a medicine, imagine your garden as your pharmacy and grocery cupboard as your medicine chest.
Following the Ayurveda way of life can totally transform your relationship with food. We’ve all heard “you are what you eat”, what if there was more truth to it than you knew?
Most people find when they start following an Ayurvedic diet, their mental and physical condition changes fairly rapidly. When we use the term “Ayurvedic Diet”, it is by no means a regimented eating plan like the western diet. There are no calorie restrictions, or limitations other than those you choose to follow.
It is a lifestyle that when adapted too, creates a balanced way of living that is easy to follow.
Ayurveda teaches that along with balanced sexuality and sleep, food makes up one of the three sub-pillars of health. In Ayurveda these sub-pillars are called; upastambhas – and unsurprisingly food is the most important one of them.
Chandogya Upanishad is an ancient spiritual text which emphasises the purity of food, with its distinct ability to heal our body and mind.
Ayurveda and Digestion
In Ayurveda, the notion of food purity is fairly easy to understand. Pure, wholesome food is both medicinal food and nourishing, food that’s overly processed and indigestible becomes toxic in our bodies.
This toxin is called Ama and is responsible for many physical and mental illnesses.
Therefore, food is only healing to the point that we can process and digest it. This transforms it into the nutrients our body can use to create good health. We are not only what we eat, but more importantly what we digest since our aim is to keep our bodies free of toxins.
We can experience perfect digestion when we eat a pure and wholesome diet that is also medicinal. When we do our mind, intellect, and ego can start to become purified too, and we start to experience a calmer, clearer mind.
When following an Ayurvedic diet the aim is to eat warm cooked oiled food. This concept may come as a surprise, because of how much salads get classed as the classic healthy food choice. But cold, raw, uncooked foods are difficult for your digestive system to process.
Ayurveda compares your digestive system’s capacity to a physical fire, which you extinguish whenever you consume excessive cold foods instead of warm cooked oiled food.
Ayurveda and Cooking
It is best to eat warm cooked oiled food, as all of these factors, help the food to kindle your digestive system and travel smoothly through the digestive channels of your body.
We learn in physics that heat expands, while cold contracts. Ayurveda envisions the body as possessing channels or pipe-like pathways called Srota, which are responsible for transporting and circulating nutrients, and for elimination.
All of these bodily channels need to stay open and unclogged for optimal health. When you consume cold foods, you constrict your body’s digestive channels, making your food remains in your system for a longer time compared to warm cooked oiled food.
Eating warm cooked oiled food keeps all of your channels open and flowing. Thus serving to kindle your digestive fire, and supporting healthy elimination.
Cooking your food “pre-digests” it for you, meaning your digestive system doesn’t need to work as hard when you eat warm oiled food. Having the right amount of oil ensures that your warm food can travel smoothly through your body’s digestive and elimination passageways.
Typically, in the capacity of your digestive system a teaspoon of oil is good per serving of cooked warm oiled food. Although it’s beneficial to modify the amount throughout the year and according to your individual health needs.
And it is only with a calm, pure mind can we actually reach the ultimate goal of the science of Ayurveda, which is spiritual freedom known as moksha.
There is a famous Ayurvedic proverb: “When diet is correct, medicine is of no need; when the diet is incorrect, medicine is of no use.”
Hippocrates who is considered the father of modern medicine, similarly stated: “Make food thy medicine and medicine thy food.” Eating according to Ayurveda’s vast wisdom gives you food for your body, mind, and spirit.