Looking to welcome a new dietary rhythm this spring? Consider the Ayurvedic diet, a collection of principles that is not so much a diet as it is a pattern. Ayurvedic living focuses on balancing the different energies within the body, while recognizing that each body is unique. Not all diets showcase such responsiveness to the subjectivity of the human experience. Most, in fact, treat every body as though it should meet the same universal standards.
The Five Elements and Three Doshas
The holistic medicine of Ayurveda teaches that there are five elements that make up the universe: vayu (air), jala (water), Aakash (space), teja (fire), and prithvi (earth). Each body is made up of three doshas, or types of energy that move through the body. The pitta dosha regulates thirst, hunger, and body temperature. The vata dosha controls electrolyte balance and movement. The kapha dosha oversees joint function.
You will need to figure out the dominant dosha in your body and then structure your diet to balance your doshas. Identifying your dominant dosha requires a combination of physical and mental assessment, including how your body responds to stress and some of your basic personality characteristics.
Focusing on Food
The diet promotes the consumption of whole foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes, and grains, and moves emphasis away from processed foods. It is possible that the Ayurvedic dietary guidelines could cause weight loss, though most people who practice Ayurvedic principles do so for the mental balance it can help them achieve.
Above all, Ayurveda encourages mindfulness, with special attention paid to mindful eating. You will be encouraged to avoid distraction while eating in order to really identify and take notice of your food’s smell, taste, and texture.
Helpful Decision-Making Tips
For those who have a difficult relationship with food, be wary. The Ayurvedic diet can feel restrictive and potentially worsen an already tenuous relationship with food. These principles are also highly subjective; the way they cater to each body individually is both a benefit and a disadvantage. It can be stressful to identify a dominant dosha, and misidentification can make the experience unpleasant.
Make sure to do plenty of research before making a decision about whether or not to try an Ayurvedic diet. If committing to a full Ayurvedic diet feels like too much, perhaps integrating some of these principles into your life is just enough. The practice of mindful eating is sometimes enough for those looking for a deeper relationship with their consumption. Best of luck!