Ayurvedic Food Categories

In Ayurveda, food is considered the source that determines the physical, emotional, spiritual and social health of an individual. Without healthy and nutritious food, a person’s overall well-being will deteriorate and eventually cease to exist. Across the world, including the US, millions of people have been struggling to battle diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and obesity. Poor eating habits, a stressful lifestyle, the lack of sleep and lack of physical activity are just several of the reasons for these epidemics.

Food is divided into 3 categories:

1) Saatvic – a diet that promotes immunity and health, and is overall vegetarian. It encourages a sound mind, physically fit body, and nurtures the spiritual well-being of the body. The mind is at peace and body maintains homeostasis, with all bodily reactions functioning at a normal level. Examples of saatvic foods are fresh vegetables, fresh fruits, whole grains, lentils, organic flour, beans and nuts. These foods will promote equilibrium throughout the body when consumed on a daily basis. A person who follows a saatvic diet will likely be free from most preventable illness and minimize toxins in his or her body. People who follow a saatvic lifestyle are balanced, peaceful and happy individuals.

2) Rajas – a diet that includes mostly vegetarian and some non-vegetarian foods. Rajas foods stimulate ambition, competition, creativity, and potential within the mind. Tea and coffee, along with butter, sugar and oil are considered Rajas foods. Foods that are fried, very spicy, overspiced, and cooked in either oil or grease are some good examples. Hence, it is best to use steaming methods for preserving the nutrient elements altogether. Rajas lifestyle followers live life to the fullest and are quite ambitious by nature. Most people fall under the Rajas category.

3) Tamas – this is the least desirable diet, but very common in modern world. A person who has a tamas diet frequently eats fast food, processed food, or foods that are inundated with hormones, chemicals and fertilizers. These also include spoiled, contaminated, stale or moldy foods. Foods from the Tamas diet also are responsible for promoting negative emotional states such as greed, jealously, anger, lust, and unhappiness. Tobacco, alcohol and illegal drugs are also part of the Tamas lifestyle. Unfortunately, people who have chronic illnesses and are self-centered, non-empathetic or experience frequent mood swings are Tamas lifestyle people. Heart, brain, lung, liver, and kidney problems are frequent.

Inevitably, a person who eats either saatvic, rajas, or tamas foods will very likely to follow a lifestyle that matches their diet.

Menopause and Ayurveda

Menopause is often seen as a burden and is viewed on a very negative level in the West. However, Ayurveda has the opposite outlook and addresses menopause as the chapter of life to be celebrated, since it is the beginning of a mature outlook in life. It is not seen as a disease in Ayurveda. The symptoms of menopause can vary depending on the type of dosha of the woman – vata, pitta, or kapha.

Some pointers can help to facilitate menopausal symptoms and reduce weight gain:

•Reduce portion sizes of food overall at mealtimes

•Light breakfast and dinner, with heavy lunch (main meal of the day)

•Timings of meals: Breakfast at 7-8am, Lunch at 11:30-1pm, Dinner at 5-6pm

•No snacking or grazing between meals

•Reduce overall stress levels and practice good stress management

•Do 15 minutes walking after each meal or light exercise

•Sleep at least 7-8 hours per night

•Avoid eating all food after 6pm

•Eat a plant-based diet overall – whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, etc.

Lifestyle Tips from Ayurveda

  • Set a time where you can sit and eat your food in peace without any distractions. If possible, always try to eat with other people.
  • Eat at the same time every single day for breakfast, lunch and dinner and practice timed meal management.
  • Eat a light breakfast, heavy lunch and light dinner.
  • Eat fruits by themselves between meals, preferably as snacks.
  • Sleep at no later than 10-10:30pm and get up by 5-6am, getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night. Do not oversleep.
  • Drink water throughout the day. Make sure you urinate at least 4-5 times per day and defecate no more than twice per day.
  • Get regular exercise, at least 4-5 days per week between 30 minutes to 1 hour 
  • Maintain proper stress management, prioritize tasks
  • Reduce and eventually eliminate processed, frozen, and refined foods as much as possible
  • Eat warm and cooked foods frequently; drink room temperature, warm (in wintertime) or cool water (in summertime), not cold water
  • Take a good 15-20 minute to eat. Do not eat too slow or too fast.
  • Do not eat on the run, play with your phone or watch TV while eating.
  • Eat with a proper frame of mind, content or happy.

The Beginning!

Welcome to my blog post! This is the first blog post on behalf of Divine Diets!

A little over two decades ago, I became interested in nutrition, after a former college classmate detailed her first experience in taking a nutrition class. Upon obtaining a positive impression, I went ahead and enrolled in nutrition, and it turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life. I eventually became a teaching assistant and also discovered my passion for teaching. Within the world of nutrition, I have nearly 18 years of experience as a nutrition professional and have dabbled into projects from international development, public health, clinical nutrition, and wellness.

I came upon Ayurveda when I went abroad to India to study on a foreign exchange student program. Although I got a few books on it, I did not undertake serious study until later in my career. I am particularly fascinated with the overall aspect of focusing on the holistic lifestyle as a whole. Although I did not have any current ailments, my family has a number of people who have been affected by heart disease. While genetics, being of South Asian origin, and family history play a role, the lifestyle of a person makes a true difference in terms of survival. This includes a healthy diet, frequent and vigorous exercise, good stress management, undisturbed sleep, and an overall positive and happy outlook.

Enjoy and experience the joy of Ayurveda on this blog on behalf of Divine Diets!