The Ayurvedic diet is an ancient Indian way of life that focuses on health for the physical body and mind. There’s a large emphasis on energy and finding harmony within one’s personal doshas.
Some of your favorite celebrities may have even hopped on board the Ayurvedic diet trend, with Julia Roberts and Gwyneth Paltrow being advocates of the positive vibes it brings to their mind, spirit, and body.
So, if you want to learn more about how the Ayurvedic diet works, its potential benefits, and its downsides, read on.
An Overview of the Ayurvedic Diet
The Ayurvedic diet is more of a holistic well-being approach rather than a diet. In Ayurvedic tradition, people believe that the universe’s five natural elements (air, water, fire, earth, and space) form three doshas. The doshas, which are types of categories, are as follows:
Pitta dosha: Manages body temperature, thirst, and hunger
Vata dosha: Supports movement and electrolyte balance
Kapha dosha: Controls joint function
The key to the Ayurvedic diet is determining your dosha or doshas.
By doing so, this practice leads you to a list of foods that you should eat for your body type. According to the Ayurvedic belief, this will help you achieve inner balance and a healthier physical body.
How To Identify Your Dosha
Some people identify strongly with one dosha, while others may feel that they’re a combination of two. Either way is acceptable because if you think your personality falls within two doshas, you can pull from the recommended foods to eat for both of them.
Below are the characteristics to help you determine your dosha.
Pitta is a combination of fire and water. People who fall under the Pitta category are hard workers, make decisions quickly, and are intelligent.
They often have a medium body build and may lose their temper easily. Indigestion, high blood pressure, and heart disease are common ailments among Pitta doshas.
Vata doshas identify with air and space, as they’re high-energy humans with lots of creativity and liveliness. These individuals often have a small frame.
Their most common health issues include anxiety, digestive problems, and fatigue.
The Kapha dosha represents earth and water. People under the Kapha category have a calm presence, are loyal, and are grounded.
They often have a bulkier frame, with weight gain, diabetes, depression, and asthma being some of their most common ailments.
Foods You Can Eat on the Ayurvedic Diet
The Ayurvedic diet can feel complicated for newbies, given that there isn’t a specific list of foods that everyone eats. Instead, you need to identify your dosha or doshas and eat from their respective lists.
Several foods overlap among the doshas, and in all cases, you can have poultry in small amounts. The Ayurvedic diet encourages people to eat mindfully, paying attention to how the food feels and tastes in their mouths.
Research suggests that mindful eating may support a slimmer waistline. That’s because the opposite of mindful eating—distracted eating—can cause people to eat more food than they realize as they watch tv, drive, or work.
Below are some examples of foods the Ayurvedic diet recommends for each dosha.
The pitta diet recommends eating a limited amount of spices, nuts, and seeds. Generally speaking, pitta foods have cool and energizing properties. Some of these foods include:
People under the vata dosha category should steer clear of most dried fruits, raw vegetables, and bitter herbs.
Instead, their primary focus should be on warm, moist food that have grounding properties, such as:
A diet high in vegetables, fruit, and legumes is essential to the Kapha dosha. People under this category should limit their seed, oil, and nut intake. A Kapha dosha diet is focused on eating:
Foods to Avoid on the Ayurvedic Diet
Regardless of your dosha, below are the foods that you shouldn’t eat when following the Ayurvedic diet:
Instead, you should put your money and time into buying and eating whole, healthy foods from your approved dosha list.
Pros & Cons
Below is an overview of the advantages for people following the Ayurvedic diet.
- Promotes eating whole foods
- Very few processed foods
- Might help you lose weight
- Could help prevent or control diabetes
Although managing diabetes is one of the most common ailments people think of with the Ayurvedic diet, there’s reason to believe that people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) could benefit, too.
In a 3-month study on the impact of the Ayurvedic diet on patients with IBS, the results found that participants saw significant benefits when following the Ayurvedic lifestyle compared to conventional IBS nutrition therapy.
This diet can be complicated to follow as it’s hard to know what balance of foods to eat if you fall under two doshas. This diet also may be difficult as you may need to cut out certain food groups, such as red meat.
One of the biggest issues that scientists have with personality-type diets is their subjectivity.
A study that measured initial weight loss and long-term weight management in obese individuals following the Karolinska Scales of Personality regime showed that personality assessments aren’t a reliable indicator of weight loss success.
Ayurvedic Diet Rules
To fully immerse yourself in the Ayurvedic diet, there are several rules you’ll need to accustom yourself to. Some of the most notable guidelines include:
Eating six different tastes at every meal
Start with fruit or another sweet food
Follow the sweet food with salty food
End your meal with pungent, astringent, and bitter foods
Eat slowly but not so slowly that your food turns cold
Make breakfast and lunch your big meals
The six different tastes are salty, sour, sweet, astringent, bitter, and pungent.
Benefits of the Ayurvedic Diet
If you decide to embark on the Ayurvedic diet, below are some of the benefits you might experience.
Regardless of your dosha or doshas, most dietitians agree that the Ayurvedic diet promotes whole and healthy foods. As a result, it may help you with your weight loss goals, especially if you couple it with yoga or other exercises.
No Added Sugar
None of the foods on the Ayurvedic diet include added sugar. Researchers believe that copious amounts of added sugar in conjunction with a high-calorie intake can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.
The Ayurvedic diet might help reduce the risk of diabetes or help you manage diabetes if you already have it.
Promotes a Healthy Mind
The Ayurvedic diet goes beyond what you put in your mouth. It encourages people who practice this lifestyle to be aware of the sensation of food in their mouths. As a result, they’ll eat more slowly and resist the urge to overeat.
Ayurvedic teachings encourage people to exercise because it’ll promote a healthier and more optimistic mindset for the rest of the day. They also believe that it removes laziness.
Yoga is often a primary exercise practice in the Ayurvedic diet. But you can choose to exercise in any form, working up to about 50% of your capacity so that you break a mild sweat.
No Extreme Teachings
The Ayurvedic diet is all about finding internal physical and mental balance in your life. So, this diet doesn’t encourage restrictive practices like severely limiting calorie intake, nor does it promote hardcore exercise routines that can be hard to stick with in the long term.
Risks To Be Aware Of
Several studies have assessed the impact of psychological-based diets and their ability to promote weight loss and improved health. The findings came back with a range of outcomes, meaning that researchers are far from being able to say whether or not diets like Ayurvedic are effective.
Although the Ayurvedic diet encourages eating foods from many healthy food groups, depending on your dosha, you may have limited choices within an essential food group.
Therefore, you might lack certain nutrients, meaning you may need to supplement your diet with a multivitamin.
The Bottom Line
People interested in ancient Indian traditions are often drawn to the Ayurvedic diet. Although there isn’t scientific evidence that personality traits impact how a person should eat, the approved foods for all doshas are healthy and unprocessed.
Since you might be lacking nutrients from certain food groups by partaking in the Ayurvedic diet, it’s best to consult with your doctor first. You should always check with your doctor before starting this diet if you have pre-existing conditions.
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