The Ayurvedic diet: the dietetics of wisdom

Weight gain, chronic pain, fatigue… are all signs of the accumulation of toxins in the body. To eliminate them, Ayurveda, a traditional Indian medicine, is based on an ultra-digestive diet adjusted to the physiology of each individual.

Ayurvedic medicine originated in ancient India and dates back more than 5,000 years. It integrates massages, natural remedies and special dietetics. The Ayurvedic diet combines body, soul and mind. Its objective is the return to balance and the prevention of pathologies, including chronic ailments.

Overweight, dull hair, fatigue … show that the current lifestyle is not suitable for the body. Starting with the plate:“Good health is based on good digestion,” says Ayurvedic practitioner Claire Cascalès. Having a good digestive fire(Agni) allows the body to absorb, use and eliminate according to its needs. »

If this fire is disturbed, we assimilate badly, we store and, above all, we produce toxins. “These toxins(Ama) are made up of food that is not properly digested,” explains Fabien Correch, an Ayurvedic practitioner. Unprocessed, they foul the body year after year.” To get rid of these toxins, Ayurvedic dietetics aims to restore good digestion.

“For that, it is essential to lighten its food, insists Claire Cascalès. It is also necessary to avoid all that attacks the digestive system: icy or hot food, excess of raw vegetables, meals taken in haste…”

And since all individuals do not digest in the same way,the content of the plate must also be adapted to the specificities of each individual. “You have to choose your rhythm, your food, your cooking methods… according to the dominant ayurvedic constitution,” insists Falguni Vyas, a specialist in ayurvedic dietetics.

Follow the main principles of ayurveda to rebalance the digestive fire and thus mobilize the accumulated toxins to quickly and durably lighten you, and be at peace with your belly.

Take care of your meals

Ayurveda insists on listening to the body and respecting its needs. “You should only eat when you are hungry,” says Fabien Correch. It’s a sign that the entire digestive system is ready to receive food and that it will digest and assimilate it optimally”

To facilitate digestion, it is essential to eat seated, in a calm environment, without outside stimulation or lively discussion: in Ayurvedic dietetics, a meal is considered a moment of rest. It is also necessary to chew well, to appreciate all the smells, textures, colors… and to eat neither too quickly nor too slowly. Falguni Vyas finally insists on “the necessity not to eat too much and to always keep a little space in your stomach”.

Adopt the right tempo

“In Ayurveda, we consider that the digestive fire is strong in the morning, the most powerful at noon and weak in the evening,” says Claire Cascalès. To mobilize toxins as well as possible, the dinner must be lighter and more easily digestible – thus rather hot and cooked – than other meals”

Moreover, there isno question of snacking between meals: “Ayurveda recommends not to break the sequential succession of digestion, notes Fabien Correch. It is not advisable to ingest food if the cycle of digestion of the previous meal has not been completed” It takes at least 3 hours between food intakes (including tea, coffee or infusion).

There should be at least 3 hours between food intakes (including tea, coffee or infusion).

Choose ultra-fresh

Exit prepared dishes, processed and refined products… They do not provide any interesting nutrients for the body and, rich in salt, sugar and fat, hinder digestion and promote the accumulation of toxins. We bet on natural, raw, seasonal and organic foods preferably.

Frozen and canned foods are limited. “To bring a maximum of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants… the ingredients must be as fresh as possible”, insists Fabien Correch

Vegetalize your plate

“Difficult to digest, proteins of animal origin (meat, fish, eggs …) must be limited, both in frequency and quantity,” recommends Falguni Vyas. The ideal plate is composed of cereals (bulgur, quinoa, millet …) + legumes (chickpeas, lentils of all kinds, dried beans …) + vegetables + spices + vegetable oils from first cold pressing (rapeseed, olive, sesame, nuts …), and we can add a dairy (lassis, homemade yoghurt, fresh cheese) at the end of the meal and a handful of seeds and / or oilseeds per day.

One can occasionally eat meat (lean) or fish, but in small quantities, always at lunch and associated with vegetables.

Focus on cooking food

This makes them easier to digest! “The detox recipe par excellence is kitchiri,” says Fabien Correch. We cook a mixture of equal parts cereals and legumes (soaked beforehand) with diced vegetables and spices in 3 times their volume of water until they are absorbed”

In addition to being digestible because it is overcooked, this preparation hydrates, satisfies and provides essential nutrients. Fruits should also be cooked if they are taken at mealtimes or eaten 30 minutes before the meal if they are raw.

Eat freshly prepared food

No leftovers or reheated food that loses a large part of its nutrients! Moreover, “a lot of food, once heated and then cooled, changes its chemical properties,” explains Fabien Correch. Some vegetables such as turnip, lettuce, celery, spinach… contain for example nitrates which when heated a second time become nitrites which are part of the intoxicants” We prepare everything just before sitting down to eat, and we don’t keep anything.

Sip hot water

At about 37°C, throughout the day, especially in the morning and evening, by boiling it beforehand. “Neutral, it pushes the body to renew its fluids by eliminating toxins,” notes Claire Cascalès. It is spectacular: in a few days, the results are there”

Too bland? One adds a few drops of lemon juice or ginger, rather in the morning to boost the body.

Respect the right combinations

“We must find in each dish a multitude of colors and the 6 flavors – astringent, acid, sweet, bitter, sweet, spicy – that activate each of the different digestive functions and allow optimal absorption of nutrients,” says Fabien Correch.

However, be careful never to combine opposing elements such as raw and cooked or cold and hot! Raw fruits and vegetables should be eaten outside of meals.

Use spices

Cumin, turmeric, coriander, ginger, chilli pepper, cinnamon: all boost the digestive fire and should be on the menu at every meal. “But beware, they must be used according to everyone’s tolerance,” warns Falguni Vyas.

Choose ingredients according to the needs of your constitution

“The characteristic of Ayurvedic dietetics is to take into account the specificities of each individual,” insists Claire Cascalès. The choice and the temperature of the ingredients, the rhythm of the meals, the quantities must respect the digestive capacities and the nutritional needs of each one”

According to traditional Indian medicine, there are three Doshas (biological materialization of the 5 elements that are fire, air, earth, water, ether): Pitta (fire), Kapha (water and earth) and Vata (air and ether or space).

“Each individual is made up of all three,” says Fabien Correch. But we all have one or two predominant Doshas in the organism which can, in case of imbalance, lead to digestive, metabolic….” To optimize the elimination of toxins and excess weight, it is therefore essential to adapt the main principles of Ayurvedic detox to the dominant Dosha of each person:

1. If you are Kapha – water and land

It concerns you if..

  • You have thick hair and oily skin
  • You are neither cold nor hot
  • You gain weight easily and struggle to lose the excess
  • You sleep well, often too much
  • You suffer from heavy stomach and constipation
  • You act and think slowly and methodically
  • You like security, routine, food, etc

To balance Kapha, it is necessary to limit yourself to two meals a day, limit the quantities, favour the most digestible foods possible, and eat and drink hot. “The diet should be as varied as possible at noon,” says Claire Cascalès. But very strict in the evening: no sugar, salt, fats, animal proteins.” The flavours to be preferred are spicy, astringent and bitter.

Which foods should you prefer?

  • Cereals: buckwheat, rye, corn, millet, etc
  • Legumes: chickpea, kidney bean, coral lentil, split pea
  • Animal products: chicken, egg, rabbit, seafood, game
  • Vegetables: asparagus, beet, broccoli, carrot, cabbage, watercress, spinach, green beans, lettuce, peas, parsley, onion, garlic, turnip, radish
  • Fruits: apricot, berries, cherry, strawberry, peach, plum, grape
  • Oilseeds: to be avoided, except occasionally: sunflower seeds, squash and poppy seeds

2. If you are Pitta – fire

It concerns you if..

  • You have hair and skin with an oily tendency
  • You are rather hot and sweat easily
  • You gain weight easily, but can lose it quickly if you decide to
  • You sleep well and recover with less than 8 hours of sleep
  • You digest well but may suffer from heartburn or accelerated transit
  • You like to be efficient, understand and control everything
  • You are energetic and have a tendency to hyperactivity

Exit everything that revives the fire: exciting (coffee, tea…), spicy or fermented food and anything too hot. “To calm Pitta, we favor raw vegetables, vegetable juices, juicy and water-rich fruits and vegetables,” says Falguni Vyas. Flavors should be mild.” We drink a lot of water outside of meals, without waiting for thirst. One should eat at regular hours, following one’s appetite.

What foods should you prefer?

  • Cereals: barley, rice, oats, wheat
  • Legumes: black lentil, chickpea, mung bean, tofu, azuki bean
  • Animal products : white meat, rabbit, egg white
  • Vegetables: artichoke, asparagus, chard, broccoli, celery, watercress, cucumber, spinach, lettuce, parsnip, peas, parsley, potato, arugula
  • Fruits: apricot, raspberry, melon, orange, watermelon, plum, grape
  • Oilseeds: coconut, sunflower and pumpkin seeds

3. If you are Vata – air and space

It concerns you if..

  • You have dry hair and skin
  • You are often cold and don’t perspire much
  • You have a light and chopped sleep
  • You get tired easily
  • Voluble, you can go in all directions
  • You have a tendency to bloating and constipation
  • You are in a joyful, spontaneous, creative and changeablemood

To stabilize the body, you should eat at regular times, breaking down the food intake to facilitate digestion (5 small meals instead of 3 large ones). “Food should be hot and cooked, a little spicy,” says Falguni Vyas. Vata needs anchoring: vegetable oils, oilseeds and seeds should be consumed”

Which foods should you prefer?

  • Cereals: wheat, spelt, rice, oats..
  • Legumes: coral lentils, green soybeans, tofu, black and green lentils, beans
  • Animal products: egg, chicken, turkey, fresh fish, goat, beef, etc
  • Vegetables: asparagus, carrot, cucumber, watercress, green bean, cooked onion, radish..
  • Fruits: apricot, berries, cherry, strawberry, melon, orange, grapefruit, peach, plum, grape, rhubarb
  • Oilseeds: nuts and seeds

Are there any contraindications to Ayurvedic dietetics?

It is not because a medicine advocates a natural diet that it is safe. There are certain contraindications, particularly in the case of allergies to food, food supplements, plants (phytotherapy) or certain essences (aromatherapy). In case of pregnancy, ask your doctor for advice.

How does the first Ayurvedic dietary consultation take place?

Two categories of professionals can provide an Ayurvedic dietetic consultation: either an Ayurveda practitioner or an Ayurvedic nutrition advisor.

If this is your first approach to Ayurvedic dietetics, it is advisable to make an appointment with an Ayurveda practitioner who will offer you a consultation on a broader spectrum, designed to assess your entire lifestyle.

With this type of practitioner, the consultation begins with an Ayurvedic assessment to determine your birth constitution (the original combination of your doshas) and your state of imbalance. The interview is conducted around observation, touch and questioning:

  • examination of the pulse, the tongue, the eyes, the skin and the nails;
  • information on your lifestyle habits, the state of your digestion and elimination (stool, urine, sweat), your diet, your sleep, your mental and emotional functioning ;
  • taking into account your medical history.

At the end of the interview, the practitioner determines a diet adapted to your nutritional needs according to the dominance of your dosha (vata for air, pitta for fire, kapha for water). The frequency of the sessions depends on the practitioner and the assessment. The goal is to integrate little by little the practitioner’s advice in order to operate a gentle change in your lifestyle habits.

The assessment proposed by an Ayurvedic dietetic adviser is faster because it only deals with the problem of nutrition. The examination of the pulse, eyes and tongue is not systematic.

Duration and price of an Ayurvedic dietetic session

An Ayurvedic dietetic consultation lasts approximately one hour. It includes the analysis of the three doshas and advice for a better lifestyle and diet. The average price is between 50 and 100 euros, non-refundable by Social Security.

How to choose your dietician?

Ayurvedic dietetics is not a recognized medical practice and taught as such in French medical schools. However, most Ayurvedic health educators have additional training as dieticians or massage therapists. As with Ayurvedic medicine in general, dietetic advice is not a substitute for appropriate medical treatment for an illness.

Some private institutes issue diplomas in Ayurveda after one to four years of study. These courses are not officially recognized by the state, unlike in India where there is an Ayurvedic university education. There is therefore no state diploma in Ayurveda in France today.

It is however recommended to choose your practitioner in the directory of an association recognized as theassociation of ayurvedic professionals.

Leave a Comment