“You are what you eat”
Recently this saying has gained again more and and more on popularity . The awareness of the fact, that everything we eat has an impact on our health and well-being not only on the physical but also the mental level has risen. A healthy diet, which suits our own personal constitution, plays an important role in the prevention of illnesses in Ayurveda.
Ayurveda is based on the concept that everything consists of 5 elements – earth, water, fire, air, and ether (space). These elements are found in different proportions and are teamed up to create our basic constitution:
Due to various reasons we are predominantly Kapha, Pitta, or Vata, but mostly two are predominant giving us a Kapha-Pitta, Kapha-Vata, Pitta-Kapha, Pitta-Vata etc. constitution.
Everything that we eat has certain qualities. These qualities either aggravate our predominance or calm it. The basic idea of Ayurveda is that if we eat constantly food with the same quality it will be aggravating which will eventually lead towards an imbalance. We therefore have to eat more food with different qualities in order to remain in balance.
Ayurveda distinguishes between 6 different tastes: sweet, sour, bitter, salty, astringent, and pungent. Also these different tastes have an impact on our constitution in terms of aggravating and calming, although a complete meal contains all 6 tastes. To give you a better understanding:
|Sweet||increases||Kapha||decreases||Pitta & Vata|
|Sour||increases||Pitta & Kapha||decreases||Vata|
|Bitter||increases||Vata||decreases||Pitta & Kapha|
|Salty||increases||Pitta & Kapha||decreases||Vata|
|Astringent||increases||Vata||decreases||Pitta & Kapha|
|Pungent||increases||Pitta & Vata||decreases||Kapha|
Which fruits, vegetables, and lentils to eat and with which spices to prepare them so that our body receives an appropriate diet containing all 6 tastes as well, is the heart of the art to prepare Ayurvedic food.
Maya Tiwari’s book “Ayurveda – A Life of Balance” offers an excellent opportunity to study and understand the qualities of food.
Apart from what we cook, the way we cook our food is also important.
The food we eat should be a healthy and balancing nourishment for our body and mind, easy to digest and should provide us with the necessary energy to achieve what we would like do. In order to provide us with this energy our meal has to be prepared accordingly:
The kitchen should be a clean, neat, and uncluttered place.
- Before starting to prepare the food, hands, feet, and face should be washed; hair should be combed and tied back.
- Never cook when you are angry or upset. Emotions pervade the energy or the food you are handling. At stressful times, take a few minutes of quieten your mind.
- Cook seasonal menus, using fresh food.
- The food should not be tasted during the preparation and cooking.
- Women during the first 4 days of their menstruation should not prepare food for others.
Regular workshops introduce Indian ayurvedic cooking perfectly enjoyable for the western tongue and spices which are important aid for the digestion. These workshops are hands-on, no demonstrations, lots of fun, recipes are provided, and the food can be enjoyed afterwards.