Ayurveda is an ancient healing practice, yet gaining more and more popularity these days. While everyone is looking for the next hot diet to help them look and feel great, there is an increasing amount of people going back to this holistic approach to getting healthy. Keep reading to find out one woman’s experience on the Ayurvedic diet and if it’s right for you.
Ancient healing: Benefits of the Ayurvedic diet
What Is Ayurveda?
Literally translated, Ayurveda means ‘life knowledge.’ “It teaches that by living in accordance with the observed cycles in nature, you restore and maintain health,” explains Monica Yearwood, founder of the Hamsa Wellness Center in Chicago, a full-service Ayurvedic center. These cycles include things like the four seasons and the 24-hour cycle of the sun. As such, an Ayurvedic diet is structured around these cycles, with major importance placed on eating foods that are in season and having your largest meal midday (when the sun is at it’s strongest), with minimal eating in the evening. It’s by no means an elimination diet; in fact, almost no food or food groups are considered off-limits. Rather, the goal is to incorporate the six main tastes—sweet, salty, sour, bitter, pungent, astringent—into every meal.
While these three are universal rules, there is also a second tier of guidelines based on the individual. According to Ayurveda, every person has a dosha, a term that refers to the biological energies that govern an individual’s constitution, both physically and mentally. There are three main doshas, each reflective of a different combination of the elements: vata (wind and air), pitta (fire and water), and kapha (earth and water). For example, a person who is vata may be very thin and flighty; pittas can be hot-headed and have oily skin; kaphas are often bigger-boned and very grounded. When it comes to diet, your dosha determines the ratio and amount in which you should incorporate the aforementioned six tastes, along with which specific foods are more and less beneficial to you.
My Week-Long Experiment
In order to figure out my dosha and get more insight as to exactly what I should be eating during my week-long experiment, I met with Yearwood for a customized consultation. Not to toot my own horn, but I am definitely a super healthy, clean eater.[…] What I’m not so good at is when I eat. […]The goal: Up my caloric intake during the day, meaning a big lunch before 2 p.m., a super light dinner, and no eating after 8 p.m. After filling out a questionnaire about my typical mental and physical tendencies, I learned that I am a pitta, the fire dosha. As such, my personalized recommendations included cutting down on spicy foods and upping my intake of cooling foods (think things like leafy greens, cucumber, watermelon) to keep my fiery dosha in balance.
So if I followed these guidelines for a week, what results could I expect? “The goal is to strengthen your digestive function and your mental tendencies so that you feel better, physically and mentally,” Yearwood told me. And what about dropping a few pounds? While this is a lifelong nutritional philosophy and not a crash diet, most people do tend to lose weight, mostly because they’re not eating late at night, according to Yearwood.
But it was hard not eating after 8 p.m. […] That being said, I loved that the diet wasn’t restrictive and included healthy carbs (quinoa, brown rice, sweet potatoes), which I normally avoid or limit. A sample menu: A green smoothie, with lots of assorted greens, almond milk, and a banana for breakfast. Lunch might be a plate of veggies, a protein like beans, tofu, or organic turkey, and one of the healthy carbs. Dinner was light, a veggie-based soup or some steamed greens with avocado, and a piece of fruit for dessert. Totally doable, and not all that varied from my normal diet.
Did It Work?
Full Story: Is the Ayurvedic Diet Right for Weight Loss?
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