Getting Started With the Ayurvedic Diet - Public Goods Blog Getting Started With the Ayurvedic Diet - Public Goods Blog

Getting Started With the Ayurvedic Diet

If any diet or lifestyle has the credentials of time and tradition behind it, it’s Ayurveda.

bowl of chili with beans, tomatoes, jalapenos, beef

The principles of eating, sleeping, exercising, using products or even wearing colors according to your specific “dosha,” or energy type, is an Indian tradition dating back to 6,000 BCE. However, it’s as effective now as it was back then, which is why it’s still so popular among modern wellness experts today.

We consulted Ananta Ripa Ajmera, Director of Ayurveda at THE WELL and author of “The Ayurvedic Way,” to learn some basics.

3 Rules of Thumb for Ayurvedic Eating

There are dozens of Ayurvedic dishes, but they all follow these three rules. If you abide by them, you should be able to cook healthy, delicious meals without too much hassle.

1. Eat Cooked, Warm, Lightly Oiled Foods

bowl of soup with dumplings

Although salads are wildly popular in our current culture, Ripa Ajmera insists they may not be the best choice.

“Digestion is the key to overall health in Ayurveda,” she said. “Consuming cold, raw foods can extinguish your digestive fire.”

Instead, warm cooked foods travel smoothly through the body to deliver nutrients without straining the system.

2. Drink Warm (Preferably Boiled) Water

pouring boiling water into a mug

Everyone knows how important drinking water is to stay hydrated and flush our systems. However, Ripa Ajmera also advises that “cold water diminishes your inner digestive fire” and that “boiling helps lighten the quality of the water, making it easier for your body to digest.”

3. When In Doubt, Kitchari

bowl of kitchari, made up of basmati rice, peppers, spinach

Kitchari is a classic Ayurvedic recipe usually consisting of basmati rice and lentils, or a similar grain/legume mixture. It is easily digested and often the basis of many Ayurvedic meals. According to Ripa Ajmera, “Kitchari imparts strength and balance to all of the three doshas, [detoxifying] and helping you to maintain an optimum weight.”

It is, furthermore, a sattvic, or mind-calming food.

Ayurvedic Pantry Staples

To cook the above dishes, you’ll need at least a few of these ayurvedic pantry staples:

Ghee

spoon scooping out ghee

The number one fat of choice for cooking Ayurvedic meals, ghee is so celebrated that, according to the Ayurvedic text, “Bhava Prakash,” it is believed to be good for everything from vision to memory, ulcers, fever, immunity, blood diseases and, of course, digestion. Ripa Ajmera confirms, “Ghee is the highest known source of butyric acid, a beneficial fatty acid that boosts immunity, supports healthy levels of cholesterol, reduces fatty tissues, increases energy production and regulates elimination.”

Basmati Rice

bowl of basmati rice

The easiest rice to digest, basmati is a sattvic food that is both nourishing and grounding.

Mung Beans

bowl of mung beans

This staple is excellent for clearing mucus and digestive toxins from the bowels. It is arguably the most essential legume in an Ayurvedic pantry.

Turmeric

pouring tumeric in the bowl

As you likely already know, turmeric is arguably the most powerful natural anti-inflammatory available. It is excellent for immunity, as well as detoxifying, soothing ulcers and aiding those with blood diseases including anemia, according to Ripa-Ajmara.

Cumin Seeds

bowl of cumin seeds
Credit: Gusjer

Excellent at aiding digestion, encouraging appetite and relieving diarrhea, cumin seeds are another powerful anti-inflammatory recommended for all three doshas.

Himalayan Rock Salt

bowl with himalayan rock salt

Unlike other salts which are thought to be heavier to digest, rock salt is semi-heated and considered light for digestion according to Ripa Ajmara. “Rock salt (which comes from the earth instead of the sea) pacifies all three doshas in Ayurveda.”

Fennel Seeds

fennel seeds spilling out of a jar

These seeds are simultaneously sweet and bitter in taste, which helps them bring balance to all three doshas. Fennel seeds are additionally anti-inflammatory, diuretic and antiparasitic.

Join the Tradition

Do you have any favorite Ayurvedic recipes or recipe sources to share? Have you ever tried following an Ayurvedic diet? If so, what was your experience?

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