Food is One of the Essential Sources of Prana (Energy).
Depending on what type of food we consume, it can either lower our prana or increase our prana. How do you feel after eating a large fast food meal with burger, fries, and a fizzy drink? We’ve all been there! On the other hand how do you feel after eating a fresh home-made meal cooked by your grandmother with love?
In Ayurveda, food is categorized under three qualities:
Fresh, organic, nourishing foods that uplift the body and positively effect the mind fit this category. Sattva is the quality of balance and positivity. These include fresh and local fruits and vegetables.
Highly spiced or foods filled with refined sugars are described as Rajasic foods. Rajas is a quality that creates restlessness increasing the activity level of the body and the mind. Too much movement and excessive thoughts can be a results of these foods.
Heavy, oily and processed foods fit under the category of Tamas. These foods impact the body in a negative manner, bring lethargy and make the mind dull and depressed.
Furthermore, Ayurveda suggests a customized diet as per the dosha (constitution) and person’s Vikruti (current imbalance).
Like increases like...
A simple way to understand how to chose the right foods for yourself is to first recognize that food is one of the main sources of prana (energy) meaning the purpose of food is to gain positive energy to support our body and mind. Choosing foods that add qualities the body is lacking helps to compensate for the qualities we are missing or don't have enough of. This is why Ayurveda suggests a customized approach to each person. I.e. If a person is experiencing dry skin, constipation and difficulty sleeping this would signal to qualities of dry, airy, mobile, cold from the list of 20 gunas from the Ayurvedic text. Like increases like, so once you identify the qualities of your imbalance, you may chose foods that will provide you with the opposite qualities. With the previous example it would be suggested to have moist, hydrating, warming, cooked, grounding foods. I.e. Foods such as sweet potato, pumpkin cooked in soups, stews and easily digestible forms with spices creating a warming effect such as cumin, coriander, mustard seeds and so on.
Vata Balancing Diet
Grounding, warming, nourishing foods that are easy to digest and tastes including sweet, salty and sour. I.e. soups and stews with heating spices like mustard seeds, cumin, cinnamon.
Pitta Balancing Diet
Cooling and hydrating foods that can help calm the strong agni (digestive fire). Favour bitter, sweet, and astringent tastes. I.e. Cucumbers, coconuts, mild and cooling herbs and spices like mint, fennel, coriander.