In Ayurvedic knowledge, food is classified into six tastes namely: sweet, bitter, sour, salty, pungent and astringent. The five elements that influence these tastes are air, fire, water, earth, and ether. They have a different effect on human doshas and thus become fundamental to your well-being.
It is popularly believed that the Ayurvedic diet is strictly vegetarian. However, in reality, it is all about creating harmony between all the tastes, flavours and textures. Also to improve your digestion, Ayurvedic studies recommend a particular sequence in eating foods, so that digestion is easier and the body can reap the maximum benefit.
Also, there are different diets for different seasons. Summers is pitta season where individuals are recommended to consume cool fruits and salads to pacify the imbalances caused by pitta and to avoid sunburn, acne, etc. Winters are considered to be Kapha season where people are more prone to cold, arthritis. Hence it is advisable to eat warm, oily and hearty meals or meats. The rainy season is considered to be a Vata season. Therefore diet in rainy weather should include foods to pacify imbalances caused by Vata. Sweet, sour and saline tasting foods pacify Vata.
It is best to choose fresh ingredients for better health. One should always choose tender and crisp vegetables, good spices, nuts and oils and aged grains.
The main principles of Ayurvedic cooking are:
1. The digestive system is supposed to be at its strongest at midday; hence ayurvedic gurus suggest that the main meal of the day should be eaten during that time.
2. To combine all the tastes, the meal should be a healthy balance with small portions of grains and pulses, fresh veggies, salad, yoghurt and something sweet.
3. After the meal, drink warm water instead of gulping down cold water.
4. Let your mood decide your meal:
• If you are anxious and restless, you need to restore your Vata. Opt for pungent, bitter and astringent foods as they can make you feel calmer.
• If you are irritable and aggressive, it means your Pitta needs to be balanced. So consume sour, salty and pungent foods to feel more enthusiastic.
• If you are depressed and sad, restore your Kapha by eating sweet, sour and salty foods to feel happier.