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3 ways to incorporate Ayurveda Dietetics in Everyday Life

Author: Sonia Velarsan, RD 

Ayurveda has been a traditional Indian medicine since ancient times. Interestingly, it lays equal stress on maintaining a healthy life, as it does on treating various disorders. This emphasis on well-being makes it a unique medical system.  

Food is one of three pillars (the other two are sleep and self-discipline) that are important to a long and healthy lifespan. The Ayurveda Dietetics Program at TDU seeks to educate, research, and inform on how Ayurveda-based food principles can be adopted for contemporary times. Here are three trans-disciplinary ways in which shastric (classical texts) advice on food can be explored for modern times. 

  1. Use ALL the five senses to enjoy your food. All of us are familiar with classifying food as fruits, vegetables, cereals, meat, or if you are a nutritionist, a little more specific as proteins, lipids, carbohydrates, and vitamins. But much before the development of this terminology, food was classified in a different way based on the sensorial appreciation of food using our eyes, nose, sound, touch, and tongue (the five senses), as well as how it affects our body i.e., metabolism. This system, called rasapanchaka, is for all materials, including medicines. 

  2. Pay attention to how foods make you feel  Ayurveda teaches us that different foods affect each person differently. We're all unique, with our balance of three body types. The way food impacts us depends on our unique makeup, age, time of day, and season. The impact of food on an individual can be manipulated by choosing appropriate ingredients, processing methods, adding particular spices, and following specific food consumption behaviors. 

  3. At each mealtime, deliberately eat only to 70-80% fullness. H ere is generic advice on portion size and rules for partaking food.  “My plate” in Ayurveda would be 1/3rd solid, 1/3rd liquid and 1/3rd empty. This emphasizes eating the right quantity of food, specific to one's digestive capacity.

  • 1/3 Solid Foods: Think of this as the core of your meal, including grains, veggies, and proteins. These foods give your body the nutrients and energy it needs. You can decide on the nutritional composition depending on your lifestyle and body needs. For example, it can have more beans, meats, and dals on gym days, while more veggies and fruits on other days. 

  • 1/3 Liquid Foods: This includes things like soups, broths, and herbal teas. They help with digestion and keep you hydrated, making it easier for your body to process solid foods. If you are looking to lose weight, diluted buttermilk or water, and if bulking up, a bone soup.

  • 1/3 Empty: It's important to leave part of your stomach empty. This helps your digestion work better, prevents you from overeating, and keeps everything running smoothly.

Ultimately when it comes to food, all of us face choices. Carrot or beans? Rice or Roti? Chicken or mutton? Now or later? Fasting or indulging? Ayurveda offers us a framework to help navigate these choices. “Introduction to Ayurveda Dietetics” is a course to help you understand the framework. It will expose you to the vocabulary in Ayurveda about food, and serve as a primer to begin your journey in this medical science of “Ayu” or life!


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