DR. PRASAD VELUTHANAR from the Wellness Center at Kanha Shanti Vanam shares some simple dietary principles from the ayurvedic perspective to bring about better nutrition and well-being.
Eat only when you are hungry. Sometimes a drink is all that is required to satisfy a craving.
Eat breakfast to help prevent a mid-morning energy slump (especially for vata types).
Drink a glass of fresh organic fruit or vegetable juice each day, e.g., carrot, apple, or spinach. Don’t mix fruit and vegetable juices, with the exception of carrot and apple together.
Eat the largest meal at midday, when the digestive fire is strongest.
Take ginger pickle half an hour before each meal.
Sit down while eating and put your full attention on the food being eaten. Do not divide the mind and weaken the digestive juices by excessive talking, reading, or watching television. Always be conscious of the taste of food and the act of eating, and try to eat in a settled, peaceful environment.
Eat only food that is attractive, wholesome, aromatic, and tasty, as this ensures proper digestion.
Eat fresh organic food whenever possible, and avoid processed and refined products. Try to avoid lifeless, nutrient-poor food such as microwaved, pre-cooked, left-over, or canned.
Favor unprocessed, unrefined oils such as Udo’s, flax, pumpkin, ghee and olive oil.
Use honey, maple syrup, agave, and stevia extract for sweetening.
Reduce the use of refined sugar, salt, white flour, hard cheese, and processed or microwaved food.
Avoid tea, coffee, alcohol, pastries, and meat. If you do eat meat, choose white meat or fish in preference to red meat, as they are easier to digest.
Use soya, rice, almond, hazelnut, coconut, or oat milk as a substitute for pasteurized cow’s milk.
Sip hot water during a meal, but otherwise refrain from taking any liquids for up to half an hour before and after food. This ensures that the stomach’s digestive enzymes are not diluted.
Drink one to two liters of water or herbal teas daily. Ginger, lemon, peppermint, fennel, coriander and digestive teas are good.
Drink hot water with fresh lemon or fresh ginger to reduce weight and to eliminate toxins and impurities.
Eat fruit separately from main meals to prevent fermentation in the gut.
If you are a pitta type, or even a kapha type with good digestion, include a small salad with dressing before your main midday meal in the summertime.
Always chew your food thoroughly.This stimulates the salivary glands and also ensures food reaches the stomach in a pre-digested liquid form that is easier to digest and assimilate.
Avoid overeating – rest and relax for a few minutes before taking a second helping. The amount of chewed food that will fit into your cupped hands is equal to a third of the size of your stomach. Your digestive system works best when your stomach contains one third food, one third liquid, and one third space at the end of a main meal. Leave the table feeling sated, but not heavy and bloated. Your energy levels should feel replenished.
Take a short stroll after a large meal, and then a short rest afterwards if desired.
If you are a vata type and experience flagging energy during the late afternoon, stop and have a small snack or fruit juice.
Eat at least three hours before bed and only have a light meal. Vata types benefit from a milky bedtime drink with added ghee, cinnamon, nutmeg, and raisins.
Aloe vera juice is good for everyone, but is especially beneficial for those suffering from pitta imbalances. It is good for digestion, cleansing, and elimination. Take 30mls of the juice each day.
Turmeric is both bitter and astringent and is a blood purifier and antioxidant. One teaspoon cooked with your meals is an excellent way to increase antioxidant intake. Vata people should use half this amount as it can sometimes be too drying and depleting for them.
The day starts the night before.
An early night ensures deep, refreshing sleep.
Deep, refreshing sleep ensures you wake early, rested and revitalized.
Waking early, rested and revitalized, ensures time for massage, yoga and meditation.
Massage, yoga and meditation ensure the mind and body are awake and alive.
Mind and body fully awake and alive ensure a happy countenance.
A happy countenance ensures a stress-free mind.
A stress-free mind creates a positive mind. A positive mind imparts love and peace to those around.
An atmosphere of love and peace creates a wave of harmony throughout the room.
A wave of harmony throughout the room creates a wave of harmony throughout the house.
A wave of harmony throughout the house creates a wave of harmony throughout the city.
A wave of harmony throughout the city creates a wave of harmony throughout the country.
A wave of harmony throughout the country creates a wave of harmony throughout the world.
If you are fully awake in the present, having learned from and let go of the past, the future will take care of itself. You simply need to bathe in the joy of being fully alive in every waking moment. And the real beauty is – you can start today. And remember the phrase, “This too will pass.”
Wishing you a great ayurvedic natural lifestyle.
Illustrations by JASMEE MUDGAL
Dr. Prasad did his Ayurvedacharya medical degree in Kerala. During his 22 years of professional practice, he has worked in India, Mauritius, Malaysia, Russia, and Egypt. He was the first Indian Ayurvedic doctor to practice and propagate this Indian wisdom in Egypt.