If you’re like me when I first heard about the Ayurveda diet, you’re probably wondering two things:
1) How do I pronounce it?
2) What is it?
How do I pronounce it?
Let’s start with the first question, because you always need to know how to pronounce what it is that you’re doing. Ayurveda is pronounced ‘aa-yer-vay-da’. ‘Aa’ and ‘da’ are pronounced like ‘ma’; ‘yer’ is pronounced like ‘her’; and ‘vay’ is pronounced like ‘day’.
What is ayurveda?
The word ayurveda originates from an ancient language used in India. ‘Ayur’ means life and ‘veda’ means wisdom. Ayurveda is literally the wisdom of life, or life-wisdom. Originating 5,000-10,000 years ago, it is the oldest healing system still used today. It is a holistic approach to caring for a person.
All areas of life are examined to ensure everything is in harmony (a key to a successful ayurveda life) – family, career, exercise, diet, spiritual life (as you interpret it), and life purpose.
Ayurveda addresses the root cause of a person’s illness, stress, and lack of inner joy. By realizing and addressing the root cause of a problem, the problem can remain resolved for good. Only treating the symptoms, as many traditional health practitioners do, does not alleviate the underlying problem and only leads to more. It resupplies the body and mind with things that are missing. Ayurveda focuses on individual needs and provides customized therapies for each person.
Therapies are only natural remedies, which reduce the risk of side effects, and are safe, inexpensive, effective, and, most importantly, fast working.
One of the most important principles of ayurveda is that the foods you eat are fresh, seasonal and local. Fresh foods are free of pesticides, additives and chemicals. And fresh doesn’t necessarily mean raw. The best foods are freshly cooked, whole meals. You can determine the seasonal foods for your area by going to a farmers market and seeing what everyone is selling.
The most popular items are what are in season because everyone has them. Finally, you want local so that you’re getting what is common and beneficial to YOUR climate and area, not someone on another coast. Plus it helps support your local small business owners.
Why should I start ayurveda?
Most people begin an ayurveda diet because they are looking for a resolution to health problems. Ayurveda has been shown to help with arthritis, PMS, stress, colds, menopause, cancer, and digestion; however, it also has a direct association with improvement in mood, spirit, complexion and energy.
When our bodies are in harmony, our lives are in harmony. Ayurveda is the perfect diet because it is customized to our own body’s needs.
Think about ayurveda this way: You’re walking through the forest. The path is clear of debris and easily seen and followed. Your walk is a breeze. Suddenly, you decide to take a “short-cut” to your final destination, which means you have to walk off the beaten path.
Now you’re walking through brush, ducking tress and limbs, and getting poked by thorns. Your path suddenly became difficult. Maybe you’re feeling stressed now; maybe you’re feeling pain. You are absolutely uncomfortable. Ayurveda is you staying ON the cleared path. Everything else is your “short-cut”. Get the picture?
“You are what you eat!”
Have you ever heard this saying? It’s absolutely true.
“What we eat affects our emotions and can create a predisposition for both psychological and physical disorders. Just as wrong emotion can upset our digestion, so wrong digestion can upset our emotions.” Dr. David Frawley, Ayurveda Healing
Most people understand and believe that all disease stems from our gut. An unhealthy or unhappy gut makes our bodies unhappy. In order to keep our gut in check, we have to eat the foods that are appropriate for and easily digested by our body type. Not everyone has the same body type, so what works for your friend may not necessarily work for you.
What dosha are you?
There are three different body types (doshas) in ayurveda – vita, pitta and kapha. Each dosha reacts differently under stress, has different body functions, and thus should focus on eating foods known to affect their body types positively. Approximately 80% of the population is a combination of two doshas.
If you’re not sure your body type, the best way to determine it is to have an examination and interview done by someone who specializes in ayurvedic medicine. However, there are some online “quizzes” you can take to use as a guide.
Obviously these are not the most accurate way to determine your dosha, but it will give you some guidance to make a few subtle changes in your diet and lifestyle to begin your ayurvedic living. Here are two links to quizzes that you can take. (Please note, I do not endorse information on either of these sites.)
I know my dosha, now what?
Now that you’ve figured out your dosha, you can begin your ayurveda lifestyle. Since each dosha requires different foods to get the most out of their bodies, and I don’t have the space available to go in depth with each of them, I’m going to give you a list of foods that are good for ALL body types and that you should consider incorporating into your diet.
1) Kichari (no surprise here since it’s considered a healing food)
2) Basmati rice (one of the main ingredients in Kichari)
3) Mung dal (the other main ingredient in Kichari)
4) Apples, apricots, berries
5) Asparagus and green beans
6) Peas and cilantro
7) Clarified butter
8) Lassi (½ cup plain good quality yogurt + ½ cup water with a pinch of cumin, ginger, and coriander)
9) Sunflower seeds
10) Goat’s milk
(List from www.ayurveda-holistic-medicine.com)
For a more detailed food list specific to each body type, check out this link.
Ayurveda brings balance to our lives
Our unique body type, or combination of body types, determines what we are made of. Because of how we lives our lives with pressures from society, our attitudes of trying to please everyone, worrying about what others think, choosing whether to relax or work, exercise or watch TV, it’s easy to see how we can start becoming someone we really aren’t.
Ayurveda brings us back to “us”. It restores balance in our bodies by resupplying it with what is missing. Once we are back in balance – one with nature, so to speak – is when we truly experience harmony, balance, health, acceptance and happiness.
Stay healthy and fit, my friends.