Holistically Healthy: The Ayurvedic Diet & Approach to Eating
by Chef Raju Bhujel, Head Chef, Art of Living Retreat Center & Shankara Ayurveda Spa
Do you know why you should never eat when you are upset or angry? The Ayurvedic approach to eating suggests it is more than just food you are putting in your body, your emotions are also getting digested and absorbed.
In Ayurveda, food is considered to be medicine. The word “Ayurveda” comes from two Sanskrit words: Ayur meaning life and Veda meaning knowledge or science. Developed thousands of years ago, Ayurveda is an approach to living in harmony with the universe in order to achieve optimum health. The science of Ayurveda harnesses the natural intelligence of the body to bring people into optimal health
The Ayurvedic style of eating helps you have an idea about what to eat and the right way of taking food. Ayurveda does not view the process of cooking as separate from that of digestion and nutrition. An eating sequence is recommended to put the focus on easier digestion and the body’s capability of extracting the nutritional essence of the consumed food.
The benefits of an Ayurvedic diet are plentiful and contribute to overall health and wellness. They include better mood control, freedom from depression and anxiety, and increased energy levels. To follow an Ayurvedic approach, food should be cooked based on six principles:
- Calm, happy, and positive state of mind
- Right combination
- Tasty and healthy
- Spices to balance the food
- Combining all six tastes – sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent, astringent – to make a balanced diet and help cravings go away.
Additional tips to help you experience an Ayurvedic approach to food:
- Eat your main meal at lunchtime. Our capacity to digest is strongest when the sun is at its height, which is between 10 am and 2 pm. So, having your main meal between noon and 1pm is ideal.
- To savor your food, eat at a moderate pace. Also, you will get the message when your body gives you the signal that it is full, which helps prevent over-eating.
- Sit quietly after your meal for a few minutes to help aid digestion.
- Eat organically grown food whenever possible. We become what we eat, so avoiding foods that are grown without chemical fertilizers and pesticides will help us be free from disease and allergies.
- Take a little fresh ginger and lime with honey or salt before dinner to stimulate digestion.
- Recipe for digestive: 2 tablespoons fresh grated ginger, 1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice, 1 teaspoon raw honey, black salt, to taste. Mix together and store in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Take 1 pinch of digestive before meals.
- Avoid drinking beverages half hour before up to one hour after meals so as to not dilute digestive juices when eating.
To experience Ayurvedic cooking personally, visit Shankara Ayurveda Spa June 22-28 or July 6-12 for Panchakarma. Led by our team of Ayurveda experts, Panchakarma is a week-long retreat customized to each person. In addition to cooking demonstrations and organic, vegetarian meals, Panchakarma includes more than 10 Ayurvedic spa treatments, yoga, meditation, and take-home education.
About the author: Chef Raju Bhujel is the Head Chef at the Art of Living Retreat Center. The Center is located on a mountaintop outside Boone, N.C. Originally from Nepal; Chef Raju’s culinary experience includes learning from his father-in-law, formerly the personal chef to the late king of Nepal. Chef Raju graduated from the National Institute of Hotel Management and working at one of Nepal’s leading hotels. He expanded his horizons by traveling with Crowne Plaza to work in the Middle East and around the world with Carnival Cruise Lines. Learn more.