When it comes to food, we cannot take a one-size-fits-all approach because everyone is unique and has their own needs. In addition, our nutritional decisions are very closely related to our emotions, our lifestyle, our living conditions, our stress level, our genetics, our age and our environment. So we need a holistic approach that looks at food as more than just calories or macros. Food is a source of energy, nutrition, medicine, sensory satisfaction, cultural connection, and even stress management.
All of these are aspects that we end up ignoring when we start following fashion diets, usually in our quest to get thinner or leaner. In the end, we ignore our intuition and set out to either refuse or force ourselves on some foods by labeling them “healthy” or “unhealthy”. However, the truth is that very few dieters manage to maintain their weight loss. Research has shown that the majority of people regain the weight they lost after dieting, and some gain even more.
And so we have to go back to the basics of our food culture, which is rooted in Ayurveda. Because it teaches you to reconnect with your intuitive intelligence and adapt your lifestyle to your personality type, environment and circumstances.
This is how you can begin this journey
1. Moderation: The core principle of Ayurveda and Yoga is moderation. In terms of nutrition, it is called Mitahara. Moderation is sustainable and can be practiced by anyone without affecting their physical or mental health. Ayurveda advises against both indulgence and the suppression of hunger. So, instead of taking extreme steps in any direction, choose a moderate diet. Eat when you are hungry, stop when you are not hungry.
2. Mindfulness: Often we do not eat because we are hungry, but because we are stressed. Especially when there is a strong cravings for sweets, it is generally the body that tries to treat itself for stress. You eat sugar in its various forms as you temporarily feel better. Likewise, if you are afraid you may crave more salty foods as this is associated with Vata Dosha.
To manage these cravings, you need to make time for stress management practices like gentle yoga stretches, pranayama, or meditation. In the long run, they make you more mindful and reduce the stress hormones in the body, which reduces food cravings.
3. Intuition: An added benefit of mindfulness is that it will make you more confident. With awareness comes a better intuitive understanding of the body and how it reacts to different foods. Because of this, you may find that when people start practicing yoga and meditation, their eating habits change automatically. You are not forcing yourself to consume more sattvik food, it starts naturally with practice. However, this takes time, so don’t expect a sudden transformation. It usually takes at least 20-30 minutes of daily meditation practice for about three months for the changes to show up. This can vary from person to person.
4. Constitution: This relates to your personality type, which is identified after a comprehensive Ayurvedic assessment. This is usually a combination of these three doshas – Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Vata people tend to be more air-dominant and get along better with warm, cooked meals containing healthy fats. Pitta people get along better with a mixed diet that is less spicy, naturally sweeter and more colorful, they would need their carbohydrates. Kapha people get along best with raw and light foods. To make some generalizations here, it can be said that Vata people can cope well with a high-fat diet and Kapha people can cope well with a raw plant-based diet. Conversely, a Vata person on a raw food diet would experience severe gas, gas, and indigestion. Kapha individuals on a high-fat diet can create even more indolence, which can lead to constipation or kidney problems.
A pitta person with no carbohydrates can be moody, irritable, and low on energy. And could develop liver problems as this is a pitta dosha affected organ. Therefore, it is important to accept your uniqueness and listen to your body.
5. Seasonality: Finally, you don’t have to eat the same type or amount of food all year round. Your food preferences may change with the seasons or in your environment.
Be open to it, listen to your body, and explore the products that are available locally in your area. It will be very nutritious and satisfying.
(The author is a yoga and Ayurveda lifestyle specialist, founder -Yoganama)
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Posted: Sunday September 12, 2021 8:26 AM IST
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