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Dietetics

Dietetics

“The doctor of the future will give no medicine but will interest their patients in the care of the human frame, in Diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.” (Thomas Edison) 

Personalized Diet - “What is good for goose is bad for gander”. All foods are good, but not all foods are good for all people. You must eat the proper foods for your health status if you want the best nourishment and optimum physical and spiritual health. Ayurveda provides specific guidelines for planning diet. While planning for your diet, keep in mind your body constitution and the taste of the food you are taking. Each body type has certain food preferences naturally.

 

Body Type

Prefers

Dislikes

Vata type

Warm, Sweet, sour, salty

Cold, Spicy, bitter, astringent

Pitta type

Cold, Sweet, bitter, astringent

Hot, Sour, salty, spicy

Kapha type

Warm, Spicy, bitter, astringent

Cold, Sweet, sour, salty

 

Chew Well: Eat in a settled environment when you are calm and relaxed. Always sit down to eat and be silent while chewing. Do not talk or watch TV or do any other work while eating. Chew well and eat at a moderate speed. Minimize ice-cold food and drinks.

 

According to Ayurveda everything in the universe, including the tastes are made up of 5 elements namely Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Space. The dominance of elements in each taste is described as below:

  • Sweet              –   Earth & Water
  • Sour                 –   Earth & Fire
  • Salty                 –   Water & Fire
  • Bitter               –   Air & Space
  • Spicy                –   Air & Fire
  • Astringent    –   Air & Earth

 

Generally all meals should include at least a small amount of each taste. While eating one should feel the taste of the foods in the proper consciousness. Start the meals with Sweet taste; sour and salty tastes in the middle; and bitter, pungent and astringent tastes at the end. In case of indigestion you can start the meal with spicy and sour tastes.

 

Imbalance of Doshas results diseases; they can be balanced with specific foods. Foods & herbs influence our physiology based on - quality (heavy, light, dry, oily, solid, liquid, sharp, smooth, soft, hard etc), tastes (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, spicy, astringent), taste after digestion (sweet, sour, spicy), potency (hot or cold) and other special properties. The below table shows the influence of tastes on doshas:

Tastes

Vata

Pitta

Kapha

Sweet

Decrease Vata

Decrease Pitta

Increase Kapha

Sour

Decrease Vata

Increase Pitta

Increase Kapha

Salty

Decrease Vata

Increase Pitta

Increase Kapha

Bitter

Increase Vata

Decrease Pitta

Decrease Kapha

Spicy

Increase Vata

Increase Pitta

Decrease Kapha

Astringent

Decrease Vata

Decrease Pitta

Decrease Kapha

 

There is no real difference between Food and Medicine. Food can be a very good medicine.

 

Quantity of food intake:

“Most people eat too much. They thrive on a quarter of what they eat, and the physicians thrive from the other three quarters”. Eat only when you are hungry and leave about 25% of your stomach empty, as this will aid digestion. Wait approximately 4 hours between meals to allow adequate time to digest. This might be less between small meals and more between big meals. There should be a feeling of relief from hunger and thirst with adequate food intake; however, no pressure should be felt in the stomach or chest after eating and he/she should be comfortable while sitting, standing, exhaling, inhaling or doing daily activities. Gentle walk for 100 feet is recommended after eating and rest has to be taken afterwards.

 

Incompatible Food:

Certain food combinations disturb the normal gastric functions leading to imbalance of doshas. Examples are:  Milk Is Incompatible With: Bananas, Fish, Meat, Melons, Curd, Sour Fruits, Kitchari, and Bread containing yeast, Cherries. Honey Is Incompatible With: Ghee (in equal proportions), Heating or cooking with. It is best to consume fruit (or fruit juice) separately from other foods. Such incompatible food should be avoided

 

Liquid intake:

Liquids help in the proper movement of food inside the body, liquefaction of the food for the easy digestion. Drinking water before meals is good for reducing weight, drinking water after meals increases weight; Take a glass of luke warm water in between the meals is ideal for maintaining health. In summers butter-milk can be used. Cold water is ideal after meals containing yoghurt /curd.  Regular intake of Curd has to be avoided. Warm water can be taken after consuming starchy/fermented food. Milk is best suited for those who have become weak due to some disease or therapy, fasting or due to excessive physical activities. It is even recommended for emaciated, aged and children.

 

Foods for our Mind:

According to Ayurveda, a subtle part of Food nourishes the mind too. Food is categorized into 3 according to its effect on mind.

 

  • Satvic food:- helps to develop qualities like, righteousness, intelligence, faith in God, cleanliness. Examples are- Rice, wheat, almost all vegetables except onion and garlic, milk, buttermilk, honey, ghee etc.
  • Rajasic food:- mostly develops competition, ego, anger, pride, lust etc. Examples are- Spice intake in excess, Meat of chicken, mutton, alcohol etc.
  • Thamasic food:- Develops qualities like laziness, sleepiness, ignorance, fear, grief etc. Examples are – Curd, Old food (Tinned and canned food), Red meat etc.