This past weekend I had the honor of presenting Ayurveda to a group of yoga teacher trainees on Vashon Island. We spent 6 1/2 hours together learning about the origin and underlying philosophies that support Ayurveda and about our unique constitution and how to care for it. Right away folks wanted to know what to eat for their type.
Diet is one of the three pillars of health in Ayurveda, and like everything ayurvedic, it is customized to the individual and changes as our environment changes (seasonal shifts, our present climate) and as our inner environment changes (stress level, age, present state of balance/imbalance). So the answer to a simple question like what should I eat? is, “It depends….”That being said, there are some general guidelines:
- Eat a whole foods diet: ditch frozen, canned and processed food and favor whole grains, fresh meats, fresh fruits and vegetables (always local and in season when possible) and understand the dirty dozen and clean 15—those few foods that the have the most and least chemical residues on them, so you know where to invest your dollars on organic, and where it’s safe to eat conventional. Fresh and local trumps organic in my book, with the exception of the dirty dozen. In the Fall, Winter and Spring eat a bigger meal mid day, and a smaller, earlier meal at night.
- Eat freshly prepared food as much as possible: The fresher the food, the easier it will be to digest (experiment and see for yourself) and the more nutrition and prana will be in that food. If you’re used to cooking in bulk and freezing—try to cook twice a week. (Purchase a food thermos and bring your leftover warm soup/stews with you to eat at work.)
- Make use of Natural Markets’ delis: in Seattle, PCC has freshly prepared soups and other items, so on the days you can’t cook for yourself or your family, you can make use of their freshly prepared foods, (and you can factor that $ into your weekly food bill in advance).
For the specifics about exactly what to eat, factor in the current season. During the Winter our digestive fire is strongest, and it’s good to favor local, seasonally grown produce and to eat foods on the Yes list for Vata and Kapha . If you know your constitutional type, you will know which of those lists will be relevant to you (do you have more vata or kapha in your constitution?).
You can start with these lists and self-assessment tests for a DIY approach. An ayurvedic practitioner can help you determine your type when it’s not clear from the written test (we use pulse to corroborate). If you’d like help making sense of the self-assessment, schedule a free 15 minute zoom session with me, I’d be happy to go over it with you and answer your questions.
Here’s to better digestion this season.