Ayurvedic Diet Principles: Healthy Eating Habits

One of the most important sections of Ayurveda is the Ayurvedic diet. People often call it an ayurvedic balanced diet and sometimes sattvic diet. Ayurvedic diet is actually the method of eating wisely because food is considered more important than medicines. We will not need any medicines if we take the right foods at the right time every day.

Ayurvedic diet principles are basic dietary guidelines for living a healthier, happier and longer life. Ayurveda is a stable science. Whatever it recommends keeping you healthy, it is still valid. In this article, we will discuss healthy eating habits based on ayurvedic principles of eating. These healthy eating habits will help you to prevent and get rid of almost all diseases in your life.

Overview:

  1. Don’t Suppress Appetite.
  2. Eat whenever you feel appetite.
  3. Eat two times a day.
  4. Don’t overeat.
  5. Eat food in their natural form.
  6. Eat food within 48 minutes of cooking.
  7. Eat food cooked at home.
  8. Eat food with a calm mind.
  9. Rules for drinking water.

Let’s first talk about the Ayurvedic Diet Principles.

Don’t Suppress Appetite

Don’t suppress your appetite. If you suppress appetite, the following disease may occur:

  • Body ache.
  • Loss of interest in food.
  • Fatigue.
  • Laziness.
  • Vision Weakness.
  • Loss of tissues.
  • Loss of strength.
  • Loss of Appetite.

A few health conditions are given above. But if you suppress appetite and don’t eat when you are hungry, it is dangerous for your overall health.

What should I do if I still feel hungry even after eating two main meals a day?

You should eat fresh and healthy foods – fruits, uncooked vegetables, salad and nuts, and seeds. You can eat coconut and drink coconut water or vegetable juice.

Eat Whenever You Feel Appetite

After proper digestion and utilization of food in your body, you also require eating food. Your body itself tells you when you need to eat. When you need to eat, your stomach will ask for it. So, eat whenever you feel real appetite. Eat whenever your stomach asks you to eat. Don’t listen to your tongue. Don’t eat just for taste. Of course, eat delicious food, but when you feel real appetite.

  • The golden role of healthy eating and stay healthy is to eat only when you are actually hungry. Drink water only when you are thirsty.
  • When you are thirsty, do not eat food. You should drink water at this time.
  • When you are hungry, do not drink water. You should eat food at that time.

Benefits of Eating Food When You Feel Appetite

If you eat when you have an appetite, it provides the following things to your mind and body:

  • Joyfulness.
  • Strength.
  • Excellent Memory.
  • Longevity.
  • Endurance and Tolerance.
  • Good Complexion and Glowing Skin.
  • Immunity.
  • Vitality.
  • Gracefulness.

Difference Between Real Appetite and Food Craving

You also need to understand what appetite is and what food craving is. What are the differences between real appetite and food craving?

Real Appetite Food Craving
Your stomach demands food. It is empty and you have not eaten anything for hours. Your tongue demands food even when your stomach is full and satisfied.
You never overeat. You overeat.
You eat for energy as per your physical and mental requirement. You don’t need to eat for energy. You just eat for taste.
You stop when you feel full. You continue to eat regardless of stomach is full or not.
Your abdomen has a feeling of lightness even after eating. You feel heaviness in the abdomen after eating.

It is the main and first most important principle of ayurvedic diet – eat when you feel appetite and avoid eating when you don’t have hunger. All other principles come after this. If you are healthy, you will feel appetite after digestion and utilization of the previous meal.

So, don’t eat if you don’t feel appetite. Eat when your stomach asks for food.

Signs of Proper Digestion of Previous Meal

  • Proper evacuation of bowel and urinary bladder.
  • Clear burp. Or no burp or belching with abnormal taste or taste of food previously eaten.
  • Lightness in the body.
  • Feeling thirst and appetite or hunger.
  • Feeling of lightness in the heart, chest, and abdomen.
  • Feeling increase in digestive fire and your stomach ask for food.
  • The clarity in senses and mind.

Eat Two Times a Day

How many times should we eat ideally? Here is the answer in the third principle of ayurvedic diet.

Ayurveda talks about 2 main meals – morning and evening.

Ashtanga Sangrah has not given any timing for a meal, but it has only mentioned morning meal and evening meal. Above timings are only for general illustration, you should check what timings are suitable for you. You need to set your biological clock according to your personal circumstances.

Ideally, I recommend the following timings:

During Long Days During Short Days
Morning Meal 8 am to 9 am 9 am to 10 am
Evening Meal 5 pm to 6 pm 4 pm to 5 pm

Gap Between Morning and Evening Meal

Minimum Gap 7 hours (good in winters)
Maximum Gap 11 hours (good in summers)

Ayurveda recommends:

प्रातराशे त्वजीर्णेऽपि सायमाशो न दुष्यति। अजीर्णे सायमाशे तु प्रातराशो हि दुप्यति॥३९॥ (AS.S.Ch 11)

It’s okay to eat an evening meal on schedule time even if you have not digested the morning meal. But you must not eat the morning meal if you have not digested the previous day evening meal. Because during nighttime, digestion capacity reduces. 3 hours after sunrise, digestive capacity increases. So, if you fast for a few hours in the morning, then it will help to digest the food properly. Eat when you feel appetite in the morning and your bowel gets clear.

Read More: Ayurvedic Diet Plan: Eating 2 Meals a Day

Don’t Overeat

Keep your abdomen ¼ part empty. Avoid overeating. You should not feel heaviness in the abdomen after eating any food. However, eat in sufficient amount that satisfies your hunger.

Ayurveda also recommends keeping ¼ part of the stomach empty. It provides ratio according to solid and liquid foods and empty part of the stomach.

अन्नेन कुक्षेठ्ठवंशौ पानेनैकं प्रपूरयेत्।।४६॥ आश्रयं पवनादीनां चतुर्थमवशेषयेत्।। (Ah.S.Ch.8)

Solid foods ½ part of the stomach
Liquid foods ¼ part of the stomach
Keep Stomach Empty ¼ part of the stomach

Whole grains, lentils, cooked vegetables, seeds, nuts, and fruits low water content refers to solid food items.

Fruit juice, vegetable soup, lemon water, buttermilk, coconut water, milk, water-rich fruits, and salad stuff refers to liquid foods.

You should eat ¼ part less than your appetite. So, the stomach should remain 25% empty even after eating a meal.

Signs of Healthy Eating

  1. Focus on your feelings after having a meal. You will feel fresh and active after eating healthy food. You will feel restless, nauseous and uncomfortable with abdomen after eating junk and unhealthy food.
  2. You still feel lightness in the abdomen even after eating.
  3. You are comfortable with your stomach.
  4. Your stomach never reminds you that something went wrong, or you have overeaten.
  5. You don’t experience any fullness or heaviness in the abdomen after eating.

Eat Food in their Natural Form

Eat foods in their natural form as you get from nature. Do not cook foods, which you can eat without cooking. It includes fruits, vegetables, nuts, and some seeds. Eat them in their natural form.

Foods which are cooked excessively have no life in them. It means cooked foods have fewer nutrients than uncooked foods.

  • Eat food based on quality, not quantity.
  • Meals should be juicy and there should not be an excess of oil in order to improve the absorption rate of nutrients.
  • One should avoid too dry food items.
  • Cooking should be lighter as much as possible.

Balanced Ayurvedic Diet According to taste

Ayurvedic diet does not mean eating only rice, boiled vegetables, and salad, it follows specific principles and can be applied to any type of cuisine. Ayurveda recognizes mainly six tastes and these tastes include sweet, salty, pungent, sour, astringent and bitter.

Sweet taste Honey, fruits
Salty taste Salty foods
Pungent taste Chili and ginger
Sour taste Lemons and vinegar
Astringent taste Pomegranate and lentils
Bitter taste Turmeric (Curcuma Longa) and lettuce.

Food is digested in a particular order and these six tastes should be included in your daily diet in order to feel satisfied. So, you should add some spices like turmeric, cumin, cinnamon, cardamom and fresh spices like fresh ginger, fresh coriander or cilantro in each recipe.

The foremost step towards following Ayurvedic Diet is to get to know your personal constitutional type or dosha with the help of Ayurvedic dosha Test. Vata, pitta and kapha dosha are the energies responsible for various physiological functions in the body of an individual. Take your time to set a particular schedule for meals every day.

Eat Sattvic Foods

It is time to be familiar with the principle of ‘GUNAS’ and to know the difference between SATTVIC, RAJASIC and TAMASIC foods.

  1. Generally, SATTVIC foods are juicy, tasty, organic, freshly cooked and easy to digest.
  2. RAJASIC foods are freshly canned foods, eggs, caffeine, etc.
  3. TAMASIC foods are leftovers, frozen and fermented foods.

You should include more sattvic foods in your daily diet to live a healthy life.

Eat food within 48 minutes of cooking

Ayurveda recommends eating foods within 48 minutes of cooking them. You can maximum store food for 3 hours.

Shree Krishna in Bhagavad Gita says food should not be kept more than 3 hours. After three hours, food is considered stale food. You must eat within 3 hours.

Don’t keep them in the refrigerator for the next time or the next day. Cook the food amount, which you and your family can easily consume immediately.

Eat Food Cooked at Home

Eat food cooked at home. Don’t eat readymade food sold in shops and restaurants.

Cook food for yourself and your family at home. You should not eat food that is sold in restaurants, shops, and packaged foods.

Eat Food with a Calm Mind

Don’t eat in a hurry. In ayurveda, taking a meal is like worship.

  • Your mind should be calm.
  • You should sit in cross-legged posture on the floor. You can sit on the floor mat.
  • Before start eating, express gratitude toward nature for food. Feel joyfulness, calmness, and kindness in your mind.
  • Before you eat food, first provide food to poor people if they are on the door to asking for food. Then serve foods to guest, elders, and children. Then you should eat food. You should eat food with your family members.
  • Always eat in a calm and comfortable environment.
  • Stay away from distractions like TV and mobile phone while having food.
  • It is important to be present while eating. This means one should take time to appreciate taste, look, texture, flavor, and smell of food using all the five senses.

All these rituals help in the prevention of Alzheimer disease, depression, anxiety, and other psychological diseases. It is most important to eat with your family members.

Research studies concluded people who eat a meal with their parent and children are less likely to suffer from mental diseases later in their life.

Rules for Drinking Water

Always drink water either at room temperate or a little warm if you have Vata Body Type or Kapha Body Type.

If you have Pitta Body Type, you can drink cold water kept in an earthen pot. You should keep this earthen pot in open space where natural air circulates and touches the earthen pot.

Check Your Body Type Here: Ayurvedic Prakriti Dosha Test.

References

I have not put anything from my own mind. However, I just make some clarification for healthy eating habits based on ayurvedic diet principles. This article is entirely based on following classical texts of ayurveda.

  1. Yoga Ratnakar, Nitya Prabriti Prakar Maah.
  2. Ashtanga Sangraha, Chapter 3, Dinacharya.
  3. Ashtanga Hridaya, Sutra Sthana, Chapter 2, Dinacharya.
  4. Sushruta Samhita, Sutra Sthana, Chapter 46, Annpaanvidhhi.
  5. Bhava Prakash.

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