This might all sound a bit airy fairy, a bit fluffy and there’s a bit of reading, but stay with me. This section does talk about food, but do not fear- when implementing diet changes, go SLOWLY! Give the body time to adjust. The body is constantly changing and its needs will fluctuate, so listen to the body and adjust accordingly. It is like practising the techniques and postures in Yoga…

healthy and wholesome food, even if taken even in proper quantity, does not get properly digested when the individual is afflicted with grief, fear, anger, sorrow, excessive sleep and excessive vigil.

Therefore, your mind matters.

Ultimately, the following could all mean nothing.
Do not accept. Do not reject. Just hold on.

Ayurveda

Ayurveda is the sister science of Yoga and roughly translates as “The Science of Longevity” or “The Sacred Knowledge of Life”.

Ayurveda recognises five elements as the fundamental building blocks of nature: EARTH. WATER. FIRE. AIR. ETHER/SPACE.

There are three “DOSHAS” OR Bodily Humors : VATA, PITTA & KAPHA

They are present in everyone, but the ratio between them varies a great deal from one person to the next. Below are simplified descriptions of each including their element(s), qualities, what they mean in the body and what happens to the body when it becomes unbalanced. Each of us has a combination of these three in our bodies at any given time. The balance of these bodily humors gives us the balance in life.

A simple way to introduce Ayurveda into your life is through “Food Combining”:

FOOD COMBINING

Food combining is the idea that some foods digest well together while others do not. Start slowly and gently, allowing plenty of time to make the necessary adaptations. Do some research on the “Gut-Brain” connection and, again, experiment for yourself. The following PDF file is a great introductory read for those looking to introduce food combining into their daily routine: CLICK HERE FOR THE PDF.

“You might want to introduce yourself to food combining by eating fruit by itself, as many fruits produce a sour and indigestible ‘wine’ in the stomach when mixed with other foods… As a general principal, avoid eating lots of raw and cooked foods together or fresh foods with leftovers.”

At meal times it is advised to half fill the stomach with food, one quarter with water and leave the remaining quarter empty. Eat only to satisfy hunger and not so much that a feeling of heaviness or laziness occurs. Eat to live rather than live to eat.

“Ayurveda is an incremental science. Everything you do adds up. Even if you are not diligent in your daily practices or fastidious with your diet, that does not mean that you will immediately fall out of balance. Be gentle with vata’s anxiety, pitta’s perfection, and kapha’s inertia. Set moderate, short-term goals. Enjoy your life and practice self-compassion. Do your best and be mindful. Keep your long-term goals in view and believe that you will reach them, step by dosha-balancing step.

“When diet is wrong, medicine is of no use. When diet is correct, medicine is of no need.”

Think you’re hungry? pears, apricots, strawberries, cherries, mangoes & berries.

menstruation: papayas, pineapple and pomegranate.


VATA = ETHER & AIR / WINTER

MOVEMENT & COMMUNICATION
Dry, Light, Cold, Rough, Subtle, Mobile, Clear

“Vata embodies the energy of movement and is therefore often associated with wind (and the air element). Vata is linked to creativity and flexibility; it governs all movement—the flow of the breath, the pulsation of the heart, all muscle contractions, tissue movements, cellular mobility—and communication throughout the mind and the nervous system.”

IMBALANCED VATA symptoms:

When out of balance, vata tends to cause fear, anxiety, isolation, loneliness, and exhaustion. It can lead to both physical and energetic depletion, disrupt proper communication, and cause all sorts of abnormal movements in the body, such as tics, tremors, and muscle spasms.

balance vata with the following:

Live as you would imagine a master would: with calm awareness and a gentle pace; A regular, daily routine with regular times for eating, sleeping, working, etc; A gentle exercise routine that includes a calm, stretch-focused form of yoga, Tai qi (tai chi), qi gong (chi gong), walking, swimming (but don’t get chilled) about five times per week; Keeping warm, no matter what the weather; Sweet, soothing music, smells, scenes and company.

Vata diet

Vatas need more of the carbs, dairy, fruits and a little meat.
Vatas need less vegetables, hot spices and bitter things like coffee.
Click here for a full list of vata-pacifying foods

The tastes that balance vata are: sweet, sour, salty.
Sweet: carbohydrates/grains, rice, bread, sweet fruit, beets, potatoes, sweet potatoes, milk, oils, meats, nuts
Sour: citrus fruits, yogurt, alcohol, vinegar, cheese, tomato, raspberries, strawberries
Salty: all salts; sea, black, rock

ENJOY:
Foods that are naturally sweet, sour, and salty in taste; Warm foods, both energetically and in temperature. Whole, freshly cooked foods; A limited selection of legumes, including mung dahl, tofu or tempeh that is well-cooked and warm soy milk spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg; Warming spices like ginger, black pepper, cinnamon and cumin, but not extremely hot spices like cayenne pepper; Plenty of room temperature or warm drinks; Dairy, as long as it is not very cold. Avoid drinking milk with your meals. It is best to have it warm and spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg, at least an hour before or after other food; A generous amount of high-quality oils or ghee in your daily diet; Routine times for your meals; Taking a deep breath after swallowing your last bite and heading off for your next activity; Eating your meal in a peaceful environment.

AVOID:
Foods that are bitter, astringent, and pungent; Foods that are cooling, both energetically and in temperature; Dry and light foods (e.g. popcorn and crackers); Too much raw food, especially in the mornings and evenings (salads, carrot sticks, raw fruit, fresh fruit and vegetable juices, etc; Most beans, including cold soy products; Cold or carbonated drinks; Caffeine, nicotine and other stimulants; Overeating or eating very heavy meals; Foods or drinks that contain refined sugar or corn syrup; Hard alcohol.

VEGETABLES THAT HELP TO BALANCE VATA:
Avocado; Cooked; Chilies (in very small quantities); Cilantro; Cucumber; Garlic; Green Chilies; Mustard Greens; Cooked; Olives (black); Parsnip; Pumpkin; Cooked; Squash, Summer; Sweet Potatoes; Zucchini

USE THE FOLLOWING SPICE COMBINATION WHEN COOKING:
1 tbsp fennel seeds, ½ tbsp each of coriander seeds, cumin seeds, ground turmeric, dried basil, 1 tsp each of powdered ginger, salt and asafoetida/hing

FRUITS TO HELP BALANCE VATA:
Bananas, cantaloupes, grapefruit, grapes, kiwi, melons, oranges, peaches and plums.


PITTA = FIRE & WATER / SUMMER

DIGESTION & TRANSFORMATION
Hot, Sharp, Light, Liquid, Spreading, Oily

“Pitta represents the energy of transformation and is therefore closely aligned with the fire element. But in living organisms, pitta is largely liquid, which is why water is its secondary element. Pitta is neither mobile nor stable, but spreads—much as the warmth of a fire permeates its surroundings, or as water flows in the direction dictated by the terrain. Pitta is closely related to intelligence, understanding, and the digestion of foods, thoughts, emotions, and experiences; it governs nutrition and metabolism, body temperature, and the light of understanding.”

IMBALANCED PITTA symptoms:

When out of balance, pitta causes fiery, reactionary emotions such as frustration, anger, jealously, and criticism. Imbalanced pitta is often at the root of inflammatory disorders, which can affect organs and tissues throughout the body.

balance pitta with the following:

A regular, daily routine with regular times for eating, sleeping, working, etc. Make sure you have time to play and to relax as well as to work; A moderate exercise routine that includes a challenging form of yoga, swimming or biking, about five times per week. Avoid exercising during the hot part of the day; Keeping yourself cool, mind and body; Sweet and soothing music, smells, scenes, and company.

Pitta diet

Pittas need carbs, dairy, sweet fruits, a little meat (non-red) too.
But they also need a good amount of greens for the bitter and astringent tastes.
A very spicy meal will leave them overheated.
click here for a full list of pitta-pacifying foods

The tastes that balance pitta are: sweet, bitter, astringent.
Sweet: carbohydrates/grains, rice, bread, sweet fruit, beets, potatoes, sweet potatoes, milk, oils, meats, nuts
Bitter: coffee, rhubarb, turmeric, most green and yellow veggies, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, leafy greens, cabbage
Astringent: fruit peels, unripe banana, leafy greens, blueberries, cranberries, beans, legumes, peas, green tea

ENJOY:
Foods that are naturally sweet, bitter, and astringent; Cooling foods, both energetically and in temperature; A balance of whole, freshly cooked foods and fresh, raw foods; Most beans; Cooling herbs and spices like coriander, cilantro, fennel and cardamom; Dairy, if you digest it well, but avoid drinking milk with your meals. It is best to have it at least an hour before or after other food; A moderate amount of high-quality olive, sunflower and coconut oils or ghee in your daily diet; Routine times for your meals; Taking a deep breath after swallowing your last bite and heading off for your next activity; Eating your meal in a peaceful environment.

AVOID:

Foods that are pungent, sour, and salty; Warming foods, both energetically and in temperature; Chili and cayenne peppers; Caffeine, nicotine, and other stimulants; Red meat; Alcohol, except for an occasional beer or white wine.

VEGETABLES TO HELP BALANCE PITTA:
Avocado. Artichoke. Bell Peppers. Bitter Melon. Broccoli. Brussels Sprouts. Cabbage. Cauliflower. Celery. Cilantro. Collard Greens. Cucumber. Dandelion Greens. Jerusalem Artichoke. Kale. Leafy Greens. Lettuce. Mushrooms. Olives (black). Parsley. Parsnips. Peppers (sweet). Potatoes. Pumpkin. Radishes (cooked). Spaghetti Squash. Sprouts (not spicy). Squash, Summer. Sweet Potatoes. Wheat Grass. Zucchini.

USE THE FOLLOWING SPICE COMBINATION WHEN COOKING:
1 tbsp each of coriander seeds, fennel seeds, cumin seeds, dried mint (or fresh), ½ tbsp of cardamom seeds and ground turmeric. For a slightly sweet version you can add ½ heaped teaspoon of raw organic sugar.

FRUITS TO HELP BALANCE PITTA:
Melons, oranges, plums and watermelon.


KAPHA = WATER & EARTH / WINTER-SPRING

COHESIVENESS , STRUCTURE & LUBRICATION
Heavy, Slow, Cool, Oily, Smooth, Dense, Soft, Stable, Gross, Cloudy (Sticky)

“Kapha lends structure, solidity, and cohesiveness to all things, and is therefore associated primarily with the earth and water elements. Kapha also embodies the watery energies of love and compassion. This dosha hydrates all cells and systems, lubricates the joints, moisturizes the skin, maintains immunity, and protects the tissues.”

IMBALANCED KAPHA SYMPTOMS:

When out of balance, kapha triggers emotions of attachment, greed, and possessiveness and can also create stubbornness, lethargy, and resistance to change. Physically, kapha tends to invite stagnation and congestion in organs and tissues throughout the body—including the mind.

In order to rebalance the body, the “Ten Pairs of Opposites” list below is a very simple, rough guide to counteract the elevated qualities.

BALANCE KAPHA WITH THE FOLLOWING:

An energetic routine. Avoid stagnation. Stimulate the body and mind on a daily basis. A vigorous exercise routine that includes jogging, hiking, biking, vigorous forms of yoga or martial arts, or other challenging forms of exercise, a minimum of five times per week. Keeping warm and dry, no matter what the weather. Lively and invigorating music, smells, experiences, and company.

Kapha diet

Kaphas do best with spices and a good amount of vegetables/greens to keep them light.
Anything too rich, heavy or sweet will leave kapha lethargic and weighted down.
click here for a full list of kapha-pacifying foods

The tastes that balance kapha are: pungent, bitter, astringent.
Pungent: garlic, onion, ginger, wasabi, black pepper, cloves, cayenne pepper, horseradish, salsa, jalapenos
Bitter: coffee, rhubarb, turmeric, most green and yellow veggies, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, leafy greens, cabbage
Astringent: fruit peels, unripe banana, leafy greens, blueberries, cranberries, beans, legumes, peas, green tea

ENJOY:
Foods that are pungent, bitter, or astringent in taste; Warm foods, both energetically and in temperature; Heating spices—like chili, black or cayenne pepper, ginger, cinnamon, and cumin; Whole, freshly cooked foods; Light, dry, and warm foods; Honey; Only room temperature or warm drinks; Most beans. Mung dahl, well-cooked tofu or tempeh, or warm soy milk are all okay; Lots of veggies; A minimal amount of high-quality corn, canola, sesame, sunflower oil, or ghee in your daily diet; Routine times for your meals; Taking a deep breath after swallowing your last bite and heading off for your next activity; Eating your meal in a peaceful environment.

AVOID:
Foods that are sweet, sour, and/or salty; Cooling foods, both energetically and in temperature; Heavy and oily foods (e.g. cheese, pudding, nuts, cake); Red meat; Foods or drinks that contain refined sugar or corn syrup; Alcohol, except for an occasional glass of dry red or white wine.

VEGETABLES TO HELP BALANCE KAPHA:
Artichoke. Beet greens. Bell peppers. Bitter melon. Brocolli. Brussels sprouts. Burdock root. Cabbage. Cauliflour. Celery. Chilies. Cilantro. Collard greens. Corn. Daikon radish. Dandelion greens. Eggplant. Garlic. Horseradish. Jerusalem artichokes. Kale. Kohlrabi. Leafy greens. Lettuce. Mustard greens. Peppers, sweet&hot. Potatoes, white. Radishes. Spaghetti squash. Spinach. Sprouts. Cooked tomatoes. Turnips. Wheat grass.

USE THE FOLLOWING SPICE COMBINATION WHEN COOKING:
1 tbsp coriander seeds, ½ tbsp cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, ground ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, dried sage leaves, ½ tsp ground clove and ¼ tsp cayenne.

FRUITS TO HELP BALANCE KAPHA:
Peaches, Persimmons & raspberries.


TRY TO AVOID THE FOLLOWING IF POSSIBLE:

Highly processed foods (e.g. canned or frozen foods, “TV” dinners or pastries); Cold or carbonated drinks; Overeating or eating heavy meals; Eating fresh fruit or drinking fruit juice within ½ hour of any other food; Deep fried foods


Cycles of Time: How the Doshas Rule the Day

Tune into the natural rhythms of the world and she might just surprise you… 

The doshas exert their influence upon us in four hour increments throughout the 24 hour day. Each four hour time period is dominated by one dosha, and thus influenced by the qualities of that dosha. In other words, there’s a vata, pitta and kapha time of day and a vata, pitta and kapha time of night. Understanding this allows you to choose activities, food choices, etc. that will support the dominant energy inside and around you at that time. Here’s a little bit of research I’ve discovered for myself…

VATA 2-6AM Another time of transition. Time to be receptive. Watch out for light sleep and scattered thoughts. Spend some time in peace enjoying this quiet time. If you have a spiritual practise; meditate, pray, chant, whatever it is. Figure out a morning routine. Bathe. Give the body an oil massage. Splash some cold water on the face. Empty those bowels (who doesn’t like an empty stomach in the morning?) Scrape the tongue. Brush the teeth and STRETCH…

KAPHA 6-10AM Try to wake up before 6AM. Why? Ever feel heavy after 6AM? Sluggish? Get that “I overslept and I’m having a hard time waking up” feeling? That’s Kapha for you. Discipline. Nothing more to it. Force yourself to follow through. Enjoy a light breakfast.

PITTA 10AM-2PM Be productive and accomplish those goals! Watch out for indigestion, skin rashes and flares of temper though, so stay cool. Take a step back and breathe. Think before you speak. Aloe vera to soothe irritated skin. Kick start the digestion with some grated ginger and rock salt. Enjoy a big meal. Did someone say dessert too? Meat eater? This is the best time to have it.

VATA 2-6PM This is a time of transition. Be creative. Got a niggling problem? The qualities of this time allow expansive thinking to peak so find yourself a calm environment to work in, stay warm. Watch out for feelings of agitation, cup of tea perhaps? Try out “Hero’s Pose” to balance the mind and increase concentration; watch out as the thinking process may become clear and precise. Maybe. Try it out.

KAPHA 6-10PM Time to wind down. It’s gotten heavy again. Got an evening routine sorted yet? It’s all about the basics. Eat a light dinner no later than 10PM. I think I heard someone say kitchadi… Spend some time looking after the body and the mind. Bathe. Give the body an oil massage. Floss, oill pull and brush the teeth. Rub some sesame oil over the body to nourish the skin- don’t forget in the ears and up the nose too! Am I serious? You tell me. At least a hand and foot massage. If you can, get into bed before 10PM and allow Kapha to take you to dreamland… (still working on this one too).

PITTA 10PM-2AM As you sleep, this is the time of internal cleansing. Time for the body to do it’s thing and look after you! Still up? Don’t eat. No. Food. After. 10PM. End of.


BREAKFAST

START OFF THE DAY WITH A STEWED APPLE
1 apple. 1 clove. Water. Peel the apple and remove the core or dice into small pieces. Cook in water until soft. Discard cloves and enjoy! A light breakfast? Perfect. Tip: get yourself a slow cooker.

STILL HUNGRY? HERE’S A RECIPE FOR PORRIDGE THAT SHOULD FILL UP THE STOMACH UNTIL LUNCH:
Soak a few raisins, dates, dried figs, apricots (as desired) overnight in a pan of water. You can also add sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, linseed, blanched almonds, hazlenuts, shredded coconut. In the morning bring this to the boil and add rolled oats (or millet, quinoa, barley flakes etc) and cook till soft. Add some cinnamon powder and a few crushed cardamom seeds. Use whichever milk you fancy. To sweeten, add any syrup of your choice (date, maple, barley, rice etc), fruit spreads along with hazlenut or almond butter. Avoid adding honey until porridge has cooled right down.

BASIC DHAL
200g red lentils/green whole moong dhal/split green or huskless yellow dhal; 750 mls water, 1 tsp turmeric, 1 bay leaf, 2 tbsp. ghee, pinch of hing, 2 tsp mustard seeds, tsp cumin/ fennel seeds, 2 tsp ground coriander, 2 tomatoes chopped roughly, 1 tsp salt; lemon juice, 4 tbsp fresh coriander
.  Boil lentils, turmeric and bay leaf, simmer for 15 mins until tender; Heat ghee, add mustard seeds, cumin, fennel, and hing until they pop. Add coriander, tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes. Add mixture to lentils along with some water if too thick.  Cook for a few more minutes. Add salt, lemon juice and coriander to serve.

Rice

SIMPLE BASMATI RICE
Bring just under twice the volume of water to the rice to boil, adding the rice and a pinch of salt to taste, reduce the heat, cover and cook for 10-15 minutes by which time all the water should be absorbed. Remove from the heat and allow to stand for 5 minutes before removing the lid. Feel free to add a few cloves and some ghee. Like slow cookers, rice cookers are also amazing.

The following recipes call for 175g of rice:
CUMIN RICE
Cook basmati rice and cool. Heat 1 tbsp. ghee, add 2 tsp. cumin seeds and fry to release aroma. Add cooled rice, a handful of freshly chopped coriander and a little lemon juice.

LEMON RICE
Cook rice and add a handful of chopped cashew nuts. Heat 1 tbsp. ghee, add ½ tsp. mustard seeds and heat till they pop. Add to rice with juice of one lemon and ½  tsp. turmeric. Garnish with shredded coconut.

COCONUT RICE
Fry one finely chopped onion and 2 chopped garlic cloves in 1 tbsp. ghee. Stir in uncooked rice and 50g dessicated coconut. Add  pinch of salt and just enough water to cover rice. Bring to boil, cover and simmer until water absorbed. Stand for 5 minutes before serving.

RICE WITH ALMONDS
Cook rice. Dry roast 50g flaked almonds and about 40 pine nuts. Once rice cooked, transfer to bowl, mix with nuts and 3 tbp. each of chopped parsley and coriander, a pinch of cayenne pepper and  a pinch of chilli flakes.

PILAU RICE
Cook rice and when water almost evaporated, add your choice from the following: raisins, almonds, cashews, pistachios, and green peas. Add a cinnamon stick, ½ tsp. cardamom powder, a few cloves, a bay leaf and a pinch of salt, along with a little more water. Stir well, cover and leave for 20 minutes.

FRIED RICE
Steam a mixed selection of vegetables (eg: carrots, cabbage, broccoli). Cook rice. Heat 1 tbsp. ghee and add  ½ teaspoon cumin, turmeric, and ground coriander. Add vegetables, salt, ½  tsp. cardamom powder and then rice. Mix well and serve.

Vegetables

When short of time, a steamer and a little salt do the trick just fine.

BASIC SAUCE FOR ANY VEGETABLES
Add 1 tsp. teaspoon turmeric to safflower oil/ ghee, and heat. Add water, cut vegetables, ½ coriander powder, chilly powder, cinnamon and cardamon. Blend a good handful of almonds and add to sauce with salt and a little jaggery to taste.

BASIC RECIPE FOR ANY VEGETABLES
eg: Okra. Wash, soak and dry okra, then slice. Fry in ghee, with mustard and cumin seeds. When cooked add salt, turmeric and a little chilly powder to keep things simple and get the taste of the vegetables. NB: Don’t cover okra when cooking or it becomes sticky!

FOR ANY DARK GREEN LEAFY VEGETABLES
Toast 2 tbsp. sesame seeds until slightly golden. Stir fry 4 cups chopped green leafy vegetables with 2 chopped garlic cloves, 1 tsp.chopped ginger. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and salt if desired.

VEGETABLE CURRY
Heat 2 tblsp. ghee, add½ -1tsp. cumin, mustard seeds, ajwan and pinch of hing. When seeds pop add ½  tsp. turmeric and cayenne, then 4 cups mixed chopped vegetables and salt. Stir to coat with spices. Turn down heat, cover and stir after 5 minutes. Continue to cook on low for another 15 minutes until tender.  Serve with a wedge of lemon.

KITCHARI
Use one cup of split moong dhal and one cup of basmati rice. Wash then add 6 cups of water. Add salt and turmeric and bring to the boil the simmer till cooked (or use rice cooker). Add a little cumin fried in ghee.

Kitchadi plays a key role in “Ayurvedic nutritional healing”. Mung dal is tridoshic, which means it balances all three bodily humors, and together with rice, provides a complete protein. Vata types can add more ghee, Pitta can omit the cardamom and clove powder, and Kapha types can use less ghee and more spices. 

BUTTERMILK SOUP
Mix 200g of yoghurt with one and a half times the amount of water. Heat 1 tbsp ghee, add ½ tsp each of mustard and cumin seeds, some freshly grated ginger,  ½ chopped green chilly, 2 chopped cloves garlic and 5 curry leaves. Once seeds have popped, allow to cool and add to diluted yoghurt. Add fresh coriander chopped, a little salt and a pinch of turmeric and chillI powder.  Add 2.5 heaped teaspoons of chickpea flour or barley flour and mix well. Serve hot.

Drinks

A SIMPLE LASSI TO HELP AID IN DIGESTION:
2 cups of water with ½ cup plain yoghurt, pinch of ground cumin, pinch of ground ginger.

DOSHA-SPECIFIC TEAS TO SIP THROUGHOUT THE DAY:
VATA TEA
equal parts of ginger, and coriander seeds
PITTA TEA equal parts of cumin, coriander and fennel seeds
KAPHA TEA equal parts of ginger, cinnamon bark and a one clove

More information on Ayurveda can be found on:
Banyan Botanicals, Ayurvedic Yogi, ayurveda college, the ayurvedic experience & MAPI