Studying Ayurveda has helped me understand the benefits of proper diet and lifestyle, but that doesn’t make me immune to the lure of delicious snacks and late nights (leading to late mornings).
Ayurveda thoughtfully lays out the optimal times to eat, sleep, and exercise to maximize health and energy each day (called dinacharya). By following the flow of nature–going to bed when it’s dark, waking up before it’s light, eating when you’re hungry, drinking when you’re thirsty–you are at your healthiest, most energetic, and feel your best.
That said, a demanding full-time job, patients, exercise, and social life often foil my best-laid plans. In an ideal world (and when I’m my most disciplined), this is the routine I follow to feel my best.
As one of the oldest systems of medicine, Ayurveda sees the body as a microcosm of the larger macrocosm, essentially our bodies are a reflection of what’s happening outside.
Staying healthy means living in harmony with nature and the seasons. Each season raises a specific dosha (sometimes two). With summer being hot, pitta increases. To counteract the heat, your diet should be predominantly cooling, bitter, astringent, and sweet.
Fall is hot with residual summer heat and also dry; you see leaves change and plants wither in the dryness. Pitta, and then vata increase as a result. Winter is by far my favorite season of eating with a diet that includes heavy, sweet, oily, sour, and salty foods to counteract the cold and wind.
But the same sun that causes the winter snow to melt and spring flowers to blossom, causes kapha–heavy, earthy elements–outside as well as inside our bodies to liquify as well. Unfortunately, allergies and colds can come as a result of the excess kapha dosha, too. Continue reading →
Food can be poison or it can be medicine–it all depends on what you eat and when you eat it.
The concept of incompatible food combinations in Ayurveda (called virudh aahar) took awhile for me to grasp and incorporate into my own diet.
Incompatible foods are everywhere: in restaurants, on cooking shows, and even cookbooks are rife with these combos.
Foods may be incompatible because they create a negative reaction in the body, generate additional water in the body (called kleda) that can lead to skin conditions, block the body’s channels, contribute to heart disease or simply lead to indigestion.
And certain foods may be incompatible because they are simply not right for a particular season. When it comes to a seasonal diet, balancing the doshas that tend to increase or get aggravated during that time of year is key. So eating chilies in the summer is not recommended as the added heat will lead to pitta disturbances like rashes, cold sores, acne, and heartburn. Allergies can stem from eating ice cream, iced drinks, pickled/fermented foods, and incompatible food combinations, especially in the spring.