An Ayurvedic Diet
Just as the food pyramid breaks down our diets to make sure that we're getting all of our nutrients, vitamins and minerals, the Ayurvedic diet is also segmented to guarantee that we're eating well-balanced, healthy meals that leave us feeling active and energized. Unlike the traditional food pyramid, Ayurveda's dietary breakdown has one added benefit: it's based on flavors, so it not only guides us to nutritious eating habits, it also helps to satisfy the various cravings we have in between meals. This means that we're more likely to cut out those random snack breaks that throw off our natural cycle of hunger, and lead to unwanted weight gain.
Eating to Stay Balanced
Ayurvedic tradition teaches that in each meal, we should incorporate sweet, salty, sour, bitter, astringent and pungent flavors. Each of these tastes affect our internal energies (vata, kapha, and pitta) differently, and adding the right amounts to meals can help us to stay balanced mentally and physically. Since Ayurveda focuses on each individual's constitution and specific needs, it's important to make sure you know what your dosha is so that you can put these flavors into your meal in a way that will lead you to optimal wellness! (If you're not sure, you can find out with our quick Dosha quiz)
The Six Ayurvedic Tastes
Here's a little look at how each of these flavors affect the three different doshas and how to incorporate them into a tasty diet!
Balances Vata and Pitta | Excess Aggravates Kapha -- Most of us know that eating sweet things makes us happy. Honey and molasses are healthy ways to incorporate this flavor, which tends to sooth the body. This category of foods also includes carbs and starchy vegetables that break down into sugars and help us build body mass, while leading us to feel satisfied.
Balances Vata | Increases Pitta and Kapha -- The salty flavor plays a key role in enhancing hunger and thirst. By adding various salted foods or seasonings we can obviously make the other flavors in our food pop more. This is a flavor to be weary of, since most salty foods we encounter are highly processed. However, salts can be derived from healthy sources like sea salt, or seaweed.
Balances Kapha | Excess Aggravates Vata and Pitta -- Pungent would be the spicy quality in a food. Peppers, chilies, onions and other foods that make our tongue burn are great to help foster a strong digestive fire, leading to increased metabolic rates. These fiery flavors can also help clear toxins from our bodies by causing sweating and by clearing out our sinuses.
Balances Vata | Increases Kapha and Pitta -- Since the sour flavor in most foods is caused by some kind of natural acid, it strengthens the digestive fire and aids with digestion. Sour foods like pickles, citrus fruits and ripe berries are known to make the mouth water and stimulate the appetite, but the acidity of these ingredients can lead to heartburn.
Balances Kapha and Pitta | Excess Increases Vata -- Though bitter foods aren't the tastiest, leafy greens and vegetables, like sprouts and broccoli, are where we harness all of the nutrients we need to cleanse our bodies. A great way to incorporate the bitter flavor is by sipping various detoxifying teas throughout the day to stay hydrated and balanced.
Balances Kapha and Pitta | Excess Increases Vata -- Though astringency isn't a flavor our tastebuds can detect, it has a cooling effect on the body which can help clear out toxins and balance excess heat within the body.