Ayurveda is a wholistic system of health, treating body, mind spirit. Within the Ayurvedic tradition, food and nutrition is seen as an energetic vehicle that results in a healthy, vital body, a stable, calm mind and a life lived consciously.
Unlike the western approach to nutrition, food is seen in terms of its energetics and qualities. For example, popcorn is considered to be light and dry, whilst cheese and nuts are considered to be heavy and oily. Green vegetables are considered to be light and cool, and ice cream is cold, moist, heavy.
When we eat, the qualities in a person combine with the qualities in the food. If the food has similar qualities to the constitution of the person, then the foods are considered to increase or aggravate the constitution.
In the same way, all symptoms and diseases are described in terms of their qualities. For example, broadly speaking we can agree that anger and irritation make you hot and bothered. When you feel anxious, you may feel breathless, light headed and fidgety, whilst lethargy can be described as heavy, sticky, like moving through mud.
Foods that have similar qualities to your emotions will exacerbate or increase those mental tendencies. Let me explain, if you feel hot and bothered all the time, then eating a diet that is heating, say 2-3 coffees per day, some fried or spicy foods and a few glasses of wine will increase the heat you express in your body and mind.
There are three basic energies to foods. Those that increase heat, those that increase dullness, those that increase stability and calmness.
Foods that Increase Heat
Foods that increase heat and acidity in the body, make the mind more fiery restless & emotional. They include onions, garlic, hot peppers, tomatoes, radishes, chilies, corn, spices, eggs, fish & poultry.
Foods that Increase Lethargy
Rich, heavy, hard to digest foods increase lethargy and have a dulling, sedating effect on the mind, like when you want to nap after a bowl of creamy pasta or a burger and a beer.
Foods that Increase Calmness & Stability
Foods that are light, fresh, and easy to digest increase stability and calmness in the mind. They are predominately plant based and include raw milk, ghee, fresh fruits, seasonal vegetables, whole grains, pulse and nuts.
In order to have a clear, calm mind choose whole foods that are fresh, seasonal and as close to their natural state as possible. Prefer cool, light and easy to digest foods and limit processed, rich, sugary, spicy foods for special occasions. Your body mind and spirit will thank you for it :0