What is “Ayurvedic” Food?

Ayurveda Myth #1

There is no such thing as ayurvedic food.

Ayurveda considers EVERYTHING you take in and digest through the senses. Sights, sounds, smells, and yes, especially food. Here’s the thing – it’s not as if you eat something, and it is “not ayurvedic”, so therefore it doesn’t count or doesn’t fit the paradigm. Ayurveda classifies all things we digest by their qualities. All foods have qualities – light or heavy, hot or cold, unctuous or dry, etc. These qualities are attributed to one or more of the five elements (earth, water, fire, air, ether), and in turn are categorized under one or more of the three doshas (kapha, pitta, vata). Ayurveda is the science surrounding how we bring these doshas and elements into balance in our body, through not only food, but through all of those senses I mentioned before.

So if you eat a cupcake, a steak, have a glass of wine or a beer, you’re not eschewing ayurvedic food. You’re simply putting a certain mix of energies into your body, and your internal fire goes to work digesting those energies, sending them to the tissues in your body and expelling the waste. Might it be better to get your energy from some leafy greens or a fresh fruit juice? Possibly, quite probably, though there’s an emotional component to consider as well (more on that in a later post).

Why is this important? I feel any time we discuss “diet” there is so much shaming, negativity, and a sense of failure if we don’t follow the “rules” to a T that most of us don’t have any hope of creating change that benefits our health. Ayurveda provides a framework to find balance and health in our life, but in its modern-day form it is often boiled down to a simple diet plan and cleanses, lacking the nuance and breadth of what it actually encompasses, which is a holistic system that addresses balance in your food, activities, livelihood, relationships, mind, and spirit.

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