The ayurvedic practice is rooted in the belief that optimal health begins with a proper diet, and uses good eating habits to improve digestion and simultaneously bring different energies in the body and mind back into harmony. This particular method of treating food as sacred medicine originated in India, and has been trusted for over five thousand years! These holistic lifestyle recommendations are intended to deliver powerful healing to your body, mind, and soul!
1. Start Your Day with Warm Water
Starting the day with a glass of lukewarm water, especially with some lemon or lime juice, will aid in stimulating and cleansing the gastrointestinal tract first thing upon waking. You may enjoy experimenting with honey, ginger, or mint as well. Providing the body with much-needed hydration along with vitamins and minerals boosts mood, energy, and immunity. On a similar note, avoiding very cold drinks and food is also recommended since they are harder on the digestive system.
2. Eat a Hearty Lunch
After starting your day with some warm lemon water, it is acceptable in the Ayurvedic tradition to have a modest breakfast. Snacking, especially at night, is strongly discouraged, and the largest meal is at lunchtime. Of all the possible meals, a hearty lunch is said to be the most easily digested. If you aren’t sure what to make, try out some of the many nourishing Ayurvedic recipes available in cookbooks and online! Dinner is again kept as light as possible if had at all in order to discourage digestive issues like acid reflux and constipation.
3. Do Not Overeat
While a hearty lunch is acceptable, it is important in the Ayurvedic diet that you do not eat unless you have signs of real hunger. Avoid overeating and allow adequate time for digestion in the body to take place. Resist cravings that are not authentic signs of hunger to increase overall energy, detoxification, and wellbeing. Chronic overeating is associated with serious risks to your health and could be a sign of anxiety or depression.
4. Eat According to Season
When you eat, it is recommended that you eat whole foods that are in season, especially in regards to fruit. Foods are believed to have optimal health benefits when consumed at the correct time of year for their region. Evidence suggests that local seasonal food contains the most nutrients, and is the most environmentally friendly. Be sure to check out local farmers’ markets and food co-ops to eat fresh organic whole foods and support your health, community, and the environment!
5. Relax at Mealtime
It is recommended to eat sitting down, relaxed, and free from distractions. Making time to sit down with loved ones and connect over a shared meal is very important in the Ayurvedic healing tradition. Snacking at your desk or in your car is not shown to help improve digestion or relationships in the same manner as these Ayurvedic eating habits. Make meals a special occasion with mindful rituals, time for checking in with, and giving care to ourselves and others in the present moment.
6. Chew Your Food
Along with relaxing and slowing down, being mindful to sufficiently chew your food before swallowing it is important for proper digestion too! This gives the digestive enzymes in your mouth enough time to break down the food so the rest of you doesn’t have to work so hard. This relieves stress on the digestive system, the esophagus and stomach in particular, and allows time for saliva to be secreted along with important digestive enzymes. Doing so can alleviate indigestion while increasing satiation and fullness.
7. Cook with Herbs and Spices
Ayurvedic spices can bring richness to recipes, and nurture you from the inside out. Some of them can be found in the form of herbal teas that are also very nourishing to the digestion and encouraged for their health benefits. In the colder months, turmeric, cumin, mustard seed, rosemary, and black pepper are favored, while in the warmer months of the year coriander, cardamom, and fennel are said to cool the energies in the body. Other popular healing herbs and spices include ginger, fennel, lemon balm, garlic, fenugreek, and cinnamon bark, available online from many reputable Ayurveda product distributors. Smell, touch, taste, and tune in to these potent healing herbs and spices with your senses to discover creative pairings that appeal to your personal taste.