What Makes Ayurvedic Food Different?
David Rogers, Owner & Chef
11 MAY 2017
The Indian science of Ayurveda suggests that all life is subject to a set of natural forces, and that maintaining good health depends on keeping those forces in balance. How they effect you personally depends on your individual constitution (dosha), and all foods possess predictable energetic properties that, when you eat them, interact with your dosha and effect your health – some positively and some negatively. The challenge for the Ayurvedic cook who is preparing food for several people of different doshas is to create the most positive energetic outcome for everyone, despite their differences. When the cook does this successfully, the food is called Sattvic.
This can all sound pretty esoteric, I know! Luckily, centuries of Ayurvedic experience and study have led to some basic principles that, if followed carefully, maximize the chances that what you eat will support your health. Here are some of them!
Generally, Sattvic food should be:
- vegetarian – because digesting meat is hard on the system; eating too much meat can easily lead to poor health outcomes such as unhealthy weight gain, blood sugar problems, and heart health concerns; killing animals increases the level of harm in our environment
- locally sourced, seasonal, and organic – because our immediate environment tends to provide what we need, when we need it, to survive in that environment
- in its natural, whole form – because processing often strips foods of components that are critical for proper digestion
- cooked – because eating too much raw food can overtax the digestive system
- eaten according to this basic formula: breakfast should be moderate in size, lunch should be your biggest meal, and dinner should be your smallest
- timed so that you have a good 12 hours between dinner and breakfast, giving your system the time it needs to fully process the day’s food AND to rest
- conscious of how foods interact with each other while being digested – for example, eating fresh fruit within an hour of other types of food can make it harder for your body to digest; also, beans and cheese do not digest well together
- conscious of how foods interact when cooked together – their properties blend, and often become more compatible
- free of foods that are particularly strong in their energetic qualities, like onion and garlic
- spiced, but delicately – because spices do not just add flavor to food, they carry potent medicinal properties that, while often beneficial, should be used in moderation
- made with love – because the energy of the cook is communicated through the food as well
While these principles of Sattvic food preparation can be followed by everyone, Ayurveda also offers recommendations for what specific foods to avoid or favor, according to your individual dosha, particularly if it is out of balance. The result may be appropriate for you, but not necessarily for the person, you might be sharing a meal with!
All the meals that we serve, and the cooking instruction we provide in group classes or on retreats, are based on principles of making food that is Sattvic – suitable for most people, regardless of their individual dosha. Of course, if we are working with you individually we can help you to tailor your approach according to your specific doshic needs.