More thoughts on ayurvedic eating based on my recent stay at Kripalu:
First. I should clarify that I don't follow a pure ayuvedic diet all of the time -- sorry if that caused confusion with the mention of eggs. I usually don't eat eggs but on occasion and find that I need to eat a few a week when I'm at Kripalu just to keep up with the massive demands on my energy.

And what is an ayurvedic diet exactly, you ask? Thanks for asking, I guess I should clarify that as well. Eating ayurvedic (similar to a yogic diet) means eating mostly plants (veggies, fruits, grains, legumes, seeds, nuts, etc), some excellent quality milk products (local organic milk, fresh cheese, home made yogurt if you can manage it). Important fat content comes from high quality oils like olive, sunflower, safflower, hemp, flax, and especially ghee (clarified butter). I wasn't trying to diss olive oil lovers earlier (in my previous blog) but its just that Pitta's need to be aware. Ghee is the chosen fat for them as well as Vatas. That's really it. No fads, no special super foods here. Just honoring yourself (dosha/s), the seasons and eating what's available to you with gratitude. Eating more high quality food, actually, you may require less of it. There's more prana, more life force available ... and that is the life force itself. In fact, you're bound to be healthier if you eat less (a big challenge while enjoying delicious buffet meals at Kripalu!).

The type of ayurvedic diet I follow is one that is taught by Vaidya Mishra and his many students (including yours truly) that includes the avoidance of rajasic foods that I mentioned in an earlier blog that include: garlic, onions, nightshade veggies (tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, potatoes). This is not the typical ayurvedic diet. Pick up most ayurvedic cook books and you will see lots of garlic, tomatoes, etc. Vaidya's aim is to maintain the most sattvic diet as much as possible. I've been at this diet for years and still get thrown off when I travel. I guess its just part of the journey. Check out his website if you want to know more or contact me. He visits the Kanyakumari Center (where I'm an intern) at least once a year. His visits are always a fascinating experience as he brings with him ancient knowledge and intuition from a long, long line of Vaidyas.

Moving along ... here's what an ayurvedic lunch or dinner plate might look like: firstly seasonal greens and veggies, secondly whole grains, thirdly legumes and/or nuts/seeds and/or milk product for protein. Most everything is cooked well for best digestion (make it all in one pot and you've got kitchari!). This is your basic ayurvedic meal. It's typical to have two or three protein sources present for good protein combining but try to have at least one present (or boost protein with grains like quinoa or amaranth). Add a nice fresh chutney, a sprinkling of fresh lime or lemon juice, digestive spices (best to add to soups or stews as it helps to have water and/or oil/ghee as a carrier), and a dollop of ghee or sprinkle of oil. Don't forget those necessary fat-soluble nutrients! It's also customary to enjoy at lunchtime a small lassi (spiced diluted yogurt drink) as a further digestive (and probiotic) -- hold the fruit please!

A key to ayuvedic eating is knowing when to lighten up: the smaller meals of your day should be breakfast and dinner. This is when the digestive fire (agni) is lowest. Breakfast can be a nourishing bowl of cooked grains with milk/non-dairy milk and spices or stewed fruit for those who aren't very hungry then. Dinner can be a bowl of vegetable soup with a side of whole grain bread or small salad of cooked veggies. Aim to eat your main sources of protein at the mid-day meal, the largest meal of the day. If you tend to have a light breakfast, try eating an early lunch so you're not ravenous. As I covered in an earlier blog, snack on fruit in between meals. It's important to eat at appropriate times of the day as well: an early breakfast (7-8am), lunch around noon, and dinner by 7pm. Try this meal plan ... your belly might really like it! Plus you feel great the next morning and can ease digestion problems and weight gain. No gimmick here. Just timing and eating mindfully.  Cool, huh?

If you choose to eat meat please consider your constitution (body-mind type/dosha) and/or current imbalance. Get in touch if you have no idea what this is. I can help with this. Meat can be grounding and nourishing for Vatas, if appropriate. Pittas and Kaphas can afford to eat less of it. Poultry and fish are still heating (as other animal protein) and rajasic (aggravating) but not as much as other options. As you can see, ayurveda doesn't take meat lightly.

There are suggested diets for each constitution (Vata, Pitta, and Kapha) but to not get too confused since most of us are a combo of two doshas just keep the emphasis on plant-foods and dairy products in moderation. Also, cooked is better than raw for those with irregular, slow, or troubled digestion. Remember that its important to know as much as you can about your food's source: is it local, organic, humanely produced, etc. Food made with love tastes better and is better for you. Makes sense doesn't it?

A friend at Kripalu, Carly, and I started a tradition of taking turns saying a prayer over our meals together. No matter what you're sitting down to, take a moment to cultivate gratitude and reverence for nourishment. Love is the most important condiment that you can add. Enjoy.

Namaste.
Heather