‘Ayu’ is life and ‘Veda’ means knowledge. Ayurveda is “Knowledge of Life”
Beyond that, it's a 5,000 year old system of natural healing that teaches you how to live in harmony with the laws of nature.
In these days of cupcakes and falafel and goat’s cheese, of cuisines ranging from Greek to Thai, Ayurvedic cooking is just beginning to gain mind-space. Ayurveda does not view the process of cooking as separate from that of digestion and nutrition. That is why Ayurveda always recommends an eating sequence. The focus is on easier digestion and the body's capability of extracting the nutritional essence of the consumed food. Most health problems are caused by intake of improper diet. Moreover, the food we consume should be seasonal and region-specific. As per Ayurveda, food plays a pivotal role in health and longevity.
Unlike our physical constitution, which is hard to change, our mental attitude greatly depends on the food we eat on a daily basis, thus it is possible for us to choose between consciousness, agitation, or inertia. We do so by choosing the right food.
Effects of gunas, doshas and food on digestion:
Our “Prakriti”, i.e. constitution, could be either Vata, Pita or Kapha or a combination of the three; affects not just the shape of one’s body but also bodily tendencies (like food preferences and digestion), and the temperament of one’s mind and emotions. For example, the earth element in people with Kapha dosha is evident in their solid, sturdy body type, their tendency for slower digestion, their strong memory, and their emotional steadiness.
So, one of the keys to health is eating right!
Ayurvedic cooking methods helps us to have an idea about what to eat and the right way of taking food, which supports the healing process and helps the body to eliminate toxins and restore balance. It gives enormous details about proper nutrition, proper food combinations, food choices, food timings and also cooking methods. That is why in Ayurveda, food is considered to be medicine.
Ayurveda further categorizes food into three categories: Sattvik, Rajasic and Tamasic, which have different effects on body and mind:
Sattvik food is light, pure and rich in prana (life force). It purifies the body, calms the mind, and helps restore harmony and balance between body and mind. It also helps to rebuild and form body tissues to a higher quality.
Rajasic and Tamasic
In excess, these types of food can create imbalance in the body, increase toxins in the body and be harmful for health if consumed frequently.
The Ayurvedic Food-Guide
Ayurveda has some unique prescriptions when it comes to cooking: food should be cooked with the following principles in mind:
- Calm, happy and positive state of mind
- Right combination
- Should be tasty and healthy
- Hygienic (clean hands, hair tied , nails trimmed)
- Importance of spices as it helps to balance the food.
- Combining all six tastes– sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent, astringent- to make a balanced diet.
- Food should be cooked in such a way that it increases sattva guna.
Benefits of Ayurvedic Cooking
- Sense of well being
- Better mood control
- Freedom from depression and anxiety
- Increased energy levels
- Feeling comfortable with oneself
- Sustained feelings of calmness and relaxation
- Health and wellness
Ayurveda places great importance on one’s pathya, or lifestyle (eating habits and daily routine) and gives guidance on how to adjust our lifestyle based on the changing seasons.