According to Ayurveda, life’s universal force manifests in three different energies, or doshas. These are known as vata, pitta, and kapha. Everyone has his/her own unique combination, or constitution, of these three natural forces. This unique conception was determined the moment you were concieved, and determines our constitution, or Prakriti. (For more information regarding physical constitution, take a look at this article about Ayurveda science).
One of the primary causes that can both increase, or decrease our doshas (energy), is food.
In order to follow through with the practice of Ayurveda’s culinary philosophy, you must keep the following in mind:
Lunch must be the most important meal of the day, eaten between noon and 2 o’clock pm. It is important to include foods according to each individual’s characteristics (kapha, pitta, or vata).
Lunch, however, should generally include cooked grains, cooked vegetables (different each day), vegetable soup with grains, and a light and sweet dessert. This meal should include all 6 flavors: sweet, sour, salty, acidic, astringent, and spicy.
Dinner should be eaten between 7 pm and 9 pm. This meal should be much lighter than what you ate for lunch. Since dinner is close to bedtime, you should not eat heavy food, because digestion distorts sleep, which is of course, necessary for the body.
It is generally advised to avoid these foods for dinner:
- Plentiful raw vegetables, as these are difficult to digest. Foods with yeast, bread, cookies, or those that are very well cooked are also not recommended.
- Honey should not be eaten with liquids, and should not be cooked at temperatures higher than 40 degrees C.
- Avoid all types of cheese.
- Eliminate, or avoid as much as possible, yogurt and industrial milks that contain additives and refined sugars. It is recommended to eat homemade yogurt, Bulgarian style is quite nice. In regards to milk, it should be whole milk and organic. You should always boil it, and remove the fatty substances before drinking it.
- Herbal tea is highly recommended.
As a general rule, try to keep meals as light as possible to ease digestion, making it more effective. This will reduce and avoid accumulating impurities, or amas (according to their Sanskrit name), making them barely noticeable in the body. By reducing the accumulation of amas, the body’s spiritual energy is allowed to flow harmoniously, which easily facilitates meditation practice.
The six Ayurvedic cooking culinary flavors
- Sweet: sugar, honey, molasses, sweet fruits (bananas, mango, papaya, etc.), milk, butter, bread, pasta.
- Acidic: yogurt, lemon, cheeses.
- Salty: salt
- Spicy: spicy foods, ginger, Chile, black pepper, peppers.
- Bitter: leafy vegetables like spinach, lettuce, alfalfa, etc.
- Astringent: beans, lentils
How to use the six flavors
TO DECREASE VATA: sweet, bitter, salty
TO INCREASE VATA: spicy, bitter, and astringent
TO DECREASE PITTA: sweet, bitter, and astringent
TO INCREASE PITTA: spicy, bitter, salty
TO DECREASE KAPHA: spicy, bitter, and astringent
TO INCREASE KAPHA: sweet, bitter, salty