What Is An Ayurvedic Diet?
Generally speaking, when I see or hear the word “diet”, my skepticism automatically turns on full force and I kind of stop listening. I think this is true for a lot of people. But an Ayurvedic diet is not a “diet” in the way that we use the term now. It's not a fad diet, there's no crash dieting involved, it's not a “system reset,” and there's no juicing and drinking your meals. In fact, Ayurveda actually discourages the kind of juicing and long-term fasting that's become so popular over the last few years.
An Ayurvedic diet is really a lifestyle choice that we move toward implementing permanently, rather than something we do just for a little while. I know the word 'change' may sound difficult or a little scary, but once you start eating Ayurvedically, and feel the difference it can make in your whole self, I'm pretty confident that you'll really enjoy making the change.
Keep in mind that change takes time, and it's pretty unrealistic to make any lifestyle change 100% in a short period of time. Depending on what's going on in your life, even keeping it up after implementing it fully can be difficult and can lead to stress. An Ayurvedic lifestyle tries to move away from stress as much as possible, so keeping an 80/20 principle to your approach is always a good idea. If you can eat Ayurvedically 80% of the time, that's a HUGE accomplishment to be proud of :)
General Principles of an Ayurvedic Diet
1. Eat a balance of the six tastes that is best for your dosha, or constitution, and agni, or digestion
Within Ayurvedic nutrition, every food item (or Ahara) has one or more of the Six Tastes (or Shad Rasas). The six tastes are made up of combinations of the five elements, and depending on which dosha needs either quelling or nurturing, we either decrease or increase our consumption of certain tastes. You also may want to consider what your current state of digestion (or agni) is. Head spinning? Read more about the Shad Rasas and agni to wrap your brain around this beautiful concept :)
2. Eat whole, real, mostly fresh foods
This means fresh, whole fruits and veggies, whole grains, nuts and seeds, fresh and unprocessed meats (if you're not vegetarian), fresh milk products, etc. The freshness of the food makes a huge difference in the life force (or Prana) in the food, which makes a huge difference in its available nutrients and action in the body.
3. Cut out artificial foods, preservatives, and refined foods
This is a lot of things. Over the years, processed, chemically preserved, and artificial foods have become the norm, and are staples in most households. Many of these "food items" more closely resemble cardboard or plastic than real, nourishing food. "Food" like this has negative karma, or action, in the body and mind. One of the easiest ways to avoid these nourishment impostors is to stick to the outside walls of the grocery store when shopping- this is where you'll find the real food full of prana and good karma. And all methods of preserving aren't devoid of karmic value- foods preserved by fermentation, pickling, or sun drying, are regularly used in Ayurveda, and out of other methods, freezing is the best.
4. Cook at home as much as possible
When you cook at home, you can be sure that what you're putting into your food is nothing less than whole nourishment, good intentions, and love. Cooking at home does take time, but there are definitely ways to cut down on time spent. With a little planning in place, it can become really enjoyable.
5. Make a conscious connection with your food
No, I don't mean have a conversation with what's on your dinner plate. I mean give thanks to whatever/whomever you're grateful to for feeding you. Some people pray to a god, or thank the universe or Mother Earth; whatever your thing is, do it! Being consciously grateful for your nourishment will create a conscious connection with it, which will absolutely increase it's karma in your whole being.