chickpea salad lunch idea for an ayurvedic diet for beginners

Yoga & detox retreat cancelled? Feeling sluggish from all this time indoors, improvising meals? Trying a clean, Ayurvedic diet can really help. A lot of Yoga retreats that offer catering will provide Ayurvedic (usually vegetarian or vegan) cooking. An Ayurvedic diet for beginners has no induction or overly restrictive rules, so don’t worry! Here’s some simple steps to try Ayurvedic eating at home. If you’re here because your stuggling with your health in isolation, you can also try our blogs on meditation and yoga during lockdown from earlier in the week. We’ve even got the kids covered!

Step One – Find Your Dosha Body Type

Put simply, an Ayurvedic diet relies on finding out your body type (one of 3 ‘Doshas’) and eating accordingly. These different Doshas have specific foods recommended for them according to Ayurvedic doctors. These Doshas are called Vata, Pitta and Kapha. This is ancient holistic medicine, so of course it is far deeper a concept than this, but for the purpose of this intro we’ll just be doing a simple outline to get you started. There are a lot of quizzes out there to find your Dosha, ranging from great to awful! The most detailed, easy free test we can find is this one by EuroVeda. The test will give you your results plus a type profile & recommended foods.

Your Dosha will have both physical and emotional traits associated with it, as well as eating habits and common health concerns. We all have the different Doshas within us, but Ayurvedic medicine teaches that there is one Dosha which is dominant. It’s imbalances in this Dosha that can cause common digestive and weight issues.

Step Two – Practice Eating Mindfully And Analyse Your Current Diet Before You Take The Plunge

Pitta body type restricts hot spices when starting an ayurvedic diet for beginners

So now you know your type and know a little about your recommended foods. Any shockers? I was horrified my ‘Pitta’ Dosha type recommended I tone down my chilli peppers! Initially I didn’t want to give it up (usually you could only pry Cayenne from my cold, dead hands…). However, sucking it up, putting down the chilli and eating to my type really reduced my problems with nighttime heartburn. But before you wade into making a meal plan, take a step back.

Take a week. God knows right now you have the time! Eat mindfully, with no distractions. Try and eat normally, but make sure you put in some variety. Pay attention to how each food makes you feel, both right after eating and an hour or two later. What did you eat the days you slept badly/had health concerns flare up? Remember your Ayurveda ‘yes’ foods and ‘no’ foods. Notice how eating mindfully changes your attitude (and grattitude!) to what you eat.

This week lets you practice mindful eating before you make any dietary changes, smoothing the ride. Try these mindful eating tips from Harvard Medical School.

Step Three – Make A Meal Plan and Sort Those Cupboards!

Making a meal plan is an important step in starting an ayurvedic diet for beginners

Meal plans are a lot easier than you think! Microsoft has loads of easy meal plan templates you can download and fill in here. We recommend you make your own plan using your list of recommended foods for your Dosha, not hunt one down on the internet. Only you know what you like. How many times have you looked at meal plans online and thought ‘no way’ to half of the things on there? Simply, you wont eat what you don’t like or can’t cook. We all have different skill levels in the kitchen, and right now due to Covid-19 lockdown some items are scarce. This beginners intro to Ayurvedic eating on Goop has recipes along with each of the type breakdowns.

Dig through your cupboards and take out the foods not recommended for your type. You don’t need to throw them away, just bag them up. This will help you see your cooking options more clearly so you can build meals that make sense for you. Keep a list of your yes and no foods on the fridge. Ayurveda isn’t heavy handed and dogmatic. It’s not telling you to never touch a non-recommended food again, it just asks that you be mindful and set limits for your own wellbeing.

Step Four – Eat To A Specific Schedule And Stay Mindful.

Now is the time to couple the mindfulness you practiced with Ayurvedic cooking. Notice how you’ve got a more spiritual, ritualistic attitude to food now. Your meals have become a respectful ceremony, not a rush or a daily grind. Try to avoid just grabbing a bite where you can (I’m looking at you Vata types!) even if it is a Dosha friendly foodstuff.

To Finish:

Ayurveda is a vast, deep subject that definitely deserves time and reading. We can’t go in depth about Ayurveda and spirituality right now, but it’s certainly a subject we’ll be broaching in the future. We hope this little guide helps you dip your toes into the world of Ayurvedic cooking and inspires you to explore the subject further!

Have any of you tried Ayurvedic eating? Do you have any questions, success stories or journeys to share with everyone? Feel free to leave a comment and chat!

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