How can an Ayurvedic diet change your life? An expert explains – VOGUE India

The influence of ayurveda

Most days, we place our lives on the chopping block, gutting our bodies, dismembering our minds and fragmenting our fragile sense of self with the ruthlessness of a carving knife. (Do I look fat in this dress?/ My presentation won’t cut it./ Why can’t I breathe?/ I’m always exhausted./ My tummy hurts./ Should I unfriend that creep?) Worse, we resign ourselves to this schizophrenic existence, little suspecting that at our innermost core, we are all perfect, complete, and—yes—utterly blissful.

Who I am

Ayurveda is the journey to this wholeness. It begins with one simple question: Who am I? Each of us has a unique body-mind blueprint that determines how we look, think, feel and evolve to our full potential. This is our prakruti or innate nature, the way we were designed to fulfil our cosmic purpose. As cosmic beings, we are composed of the five universal elements (space, air, fire, water and earth) which fuse to form the three basic doshas or body-mind constitutions: vata (air), pitta (fire) and kapha (earth). These, in turn, combine in different proportions to determine each individual’s prakruti, which is as inimitable as a finger- print. While we all have air, fire and earth components, most of us have a dominant dosha; many are dual types, and some are tri-doshic.

Who I am not

Living in harmony with our preordained constitution brings balance; moving away from it brings “dis-ease” or imbalance. So starving to shrink a size 16 kapha body to a size six vata one could create the classic vata or air imbalance: frizzy hair, dry skin, constipation and anxiety. Likewise, an incendiary pitta type who overdoses on caffeine and alcohol is likely to up her fire quotient. The result: angry acne and ugly aggression.

Late nights, work stress, under or over exercising, air-conditioning, loud music, violent TV serials, and yes, even Instagram insecurity can throw the doshas out of whack, leading to chronic disorders. But far more destructive are toxic emotions and relationships, that can cause deep damage at the cellular level.

Who I can be

The key to balance, then, is a customised diet and lifestyle that suits our individual constitution. This requires an awareness of who we are, an honest assessment of how we imbalance ourselves, and committing to our own physical, mental and spiritual healing. With this self-knowledge we can choose to live consciously, and rediscover the wholeness, health and harmony that is our essential being.

Living in balance

Vata (Air type)

Body: Slight build, dry skin and hair, gassy, constipated, sensitive to cold.
Mind: Quick, creative, anxious, hyperactive.
Aggravations: Dry food (popcorn, peas, beans), excessive activity, over- exercising, fear.
Balanced by: Heavy, dense food (wheat, dairy, nuts, root vegetables), regular massage, leisurely lifestyle.

Pitta (Fire type)

Body: Medium build, oily hair, acidity, acne, hives, sensitive to heat.
Mind: Bright, driven, controlling, irritable, angry.
Aggravations: Spicy, sour and fermented food (chillies, coffee, alcohol, cheese), stress and sun.

Balanced by: Cooling foods (fruit, salad, rice), cool weather and chilling!

Kapha (Earth type)

Body: Big build, balanced skin and hair, weight gain, congestion.
Mind: Stable, loving, nurturing, needy, materialistic, depressed.
Aggravations: Heavy, sticky, sweet food (wheat, dairy, fruit), laziness, dull weather.

Balanced by: Light, hot, spiced food (soup, cooked vegetables, beans), vigorous exercise, hard work.

Are you a dual or tri doshic type?

Pick diet and lifestyle recommendations for each dosha and see what works for you. Experiment and personalise! Your body will provide the clues.

Ancient Ayurvedic superfoods

Ghee

ghee
Image: Shutterstock

Unctuous, cooling, tranquilising, promotes ojas, our vital essence.

Khichdi

khichdi
Image: Shutterstock

The unmatched Ayurvedic staple for both detoxification and rejuvenation; heals and renews.

Honey

honey
Image: Shutterstock

Scrapes away fat, phlegm and toxins from tissues.

Turmeric

turmeric
Image: Shutterstock

Cleanses blood, liver, skin; ups immunity; repairs joints.

Almond

almonds
Image: Shutterstock

Boosts brain power; strengthens the heart; fortifies bones and nerves.

The Ayurvedic take on:

Keto diet

With a fat component of 85 per cent, keto works by starving the body of vital nutrients. An Ayurvedic khichdi fast will yield the same results—far more healthfully.

High protein diet

Surprise, surprise. Ayurveda classifies protein as santarpana or tissue building food that will eventually increase body weight!

Gluten-free diet

Gluten in grains is nourishing and grounding. However, toxic overload from processed food has weakened our ability to digest it. We need to strengthen our gut, not give up wheat.

Lactose-free diet

Raw milk nourishes body tissues. Our intolerance is to pasteurised milk, which is no better than an indigestible chemical cocktail.

Intermittent fasting

Probably the mother of intermittent fasting, Ayurveda recommends eating your largest meal at noon, when the sun is at its zenith, and a smaller meal at sunset. Breakfast can be optional.

Ayurveda and alcohol

Many Ayurvedic medicines called asavas are processed in grape wine or draksha. Wine in moderation is good for kapha and calming for vata but will inflame pitta. But generally, alcohol is tamasic, dulling body, mind and spirit.

Also read:

Is it best to trust Ayurveda and go natural when it comes to beauty?

A new Indian cookbook marries Ayurveda to modern cooking

The best hair fall remedies approved by dermats and Ayurveda

Now Playing: September 2018: Behind the scenes with Radhika Nair and Saffron Vadher

Recommended