Confused About Healthy Eating? Follow the Ayurvedic Eating Guidelines to be Healthy
Food is an essential component for any living being on the earth. The physical, mental, and social well-being of an individual is dependent on the food we eat. In Ayurveda, Aahara is said to influence the sharira (body), mana (mind), and atman (soul).
To obtain the benefits of aahara or food, adopting healthy eating habits is important. Aahara is termed as ‘Mahabhaishajya’ (greatest medicine) since healthy food can prevent and cure diseases when taken following the eating principles.
Healthy Eating – Ayurvedic Way
Ayurveda classics have mentioned Aahara Vidhi Vidhana (principles or guidelines for eating). The discussion on those principles is below.
- Ushna ashniyat
- Snigdha ashniyat
- Matravat ashniyat
- Jirne ashniyat
- Virya avirudddham ashniyat
- Ishte deshe sarva upakaranam ashniyat
- Na Atidrutam ashniyat
- Na Ativilambitam ashniyat
- Ajalpana Ahasanam Tanmana Bhunjita
- Ushna ashniyat: This means having food when it is warm. Eating warm food stimulates digestion, helps in the downward movement of vata dosha, and removes excess kapha dosha. It also enhances the taste buds, facilitates the passage of food particles in the food pipe, and promotes proper absorption of nutrients.
- Snigdha ashniyat: Food should be consumed that is unctuous in nature. Here, it refers to adding ghee or fats to food and eating. This promotes strength, and the complexion of the skin, aids in the digestion process, and improves the functioning of sensory organs. Food mixed with fats helps in the absorption of certain nutrients like Vitamin A, and the functioning of the brain and the nerves.
- Matravat ashniyat: Food intake in optimum quantity or adequate quantity is one of the determining factors for digestion and absorption of food. In Ayurveda treatises, the stomach is divided into three portions, one portion each for solid food, liquid food, and three dosha (vata,pitta,kapha). The quantity of food can be sarvagraha (the overall quantity of food in meals) and parigraha (the quantity of individual food items in a meal). Adequate quantity or matravat aahara intake is the one that does not cause pain in the heart, or heaviness in the abdomen, subsides hunger and thirst, produces lightness in the body and there is comfort in sitting, standing, walking, and talking after food intake.
- Jirne ashniyat: This principle implies that the food should be taken only after the digestion of previously taken food. If there is improper digestion of the previous meals and the next meal is taken it leads to dosha dushti (vitiation of dosha). The benefits of advocating this habit are a good appetite, proper natural urges like flatus, urine, belchings, etc., lightness in the body, tissues, and cells being properly nourished, proper functioning of the sensory and motor systems
- Virye aviruddham ashniyat: Having foods that are not contradictory in their potencies. Food items have different nutritional potencies and hence the selection to combine the foods to be eaten has to be proper. For instance, having milk and fish together is incompatible and leads to diseases like skin lesions and so on.
- Ishte deshe sarva upakaranam ashniyat: Eating in a comfortable place and position with a good state of mind, cooking food in the proper vessels helps in proper digestion and assimilation, keeps mind and body healthy, promotes good sleep, prevents illness, helps achieve longevity of life, etc. The place of eating food should be calm, clean, even surface, and properly ventilated; a comfortable position of the body with an erect spine, sitting at a proper height; with a clear mind, no worries, no grief, no anger, complete attention towards the food, avoiding to speak, laugh or think while having food; choice of vessels to cook and to be served is one of the healthy eating habits. To mention a few cooking or serving sour items in copper vessels is an unhealthy practice while cooking in iron vessels helps absorption of food and nutrients as well. Food was cooked in the earthen vessel in the olden days which enhanced the flavors and tastes of the food.
- Na Atidrutam ashniyat: Not to eat too quickly or in a hurried way as the food is not properly masticated, large food items enter to food pipe without breaking into smaller ones, also may enter the windpipe, there are not enough salivary secretions that cause pain in the abdomen, indigestion, nausea, vomiting, loose stools, and various other ailments.
- Na Ativilambitam ashniyat: Not to eat slowly as the food gets cold and the digestion is hampered. The digestive juices do not get properly mixed with food particles and act upon them. Slow eating allows gastric distension in the stomach as well.
- Ajalpana Ahasanam Tanmana Bhunjita: Eating without talking, laughing, and eating with proper attention is very important. Nowadays people have the least focus while they eat and the habit of excessive talking and laughing during intake leads to gastrointestinal problems like indigestion, acidity, abdominal distension, constipation, nausea, vomiting, etc.
In addition to the above-discussed guidelines, Acharyas have also described the chronology of tastes to be taken, fruits during meals, time of the food, and quantity of food depending on the nature of the food.
- Based on the rasa (tastes) there is a chronology of food intake that helps act on dosha. Madhura rasa (sweet taste) aahara (food) should be taken in the beginning to overcome the vata dosha accumulated due to hunger, lavana and amla rasa aahara (salt and sour food) are taken in the middle as they increase appetite and the end of the meal to subside kapha dosha which has increased during food intake katu (pungent), tikta (bitter) and kashaya (astringent) food should be taken
- The practice of eating Amla (Indian gooseberry) fruit at the beginning, middle, and at end of the food
- At noon time, light food, juices or buttermilk can be taken, evening dinner is recommended to be taken before sunset and after sunset only a liquid diet is advisable
- Heavy digestible food should be taken up to one-third of the fullness while easily digestible or light food can be taken till satiety.
Eating habits are important in a diet since they maintain balance or equilibrium of tridosha (three dosha), saptadhatu (seven types of tissues), trimala (three types of excreta from the body), manas (mind),and atma (soul). The guidelines for eating food mentioned in Ayurveda classics are necessary since they are effective in the maintenance of health and also in the curative aspect of the disease.
NOTE: “This article does not provide medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on this WebSite. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call or visit your doctor.” For more information on Healthy Eating call us at +919945850945 Limited consultations per day with prior appointments only.