Introduction to Ayurvedic nutrition
Central to ayurvedic eating, is the concept of doshas, which is explained elsewhere on this site. According to Ayurveda, different food should be eaten at different time to suit the prevalent climatic and cosmic conditions. For example, in the winter, the Vata and Kapha doshas are prevalent, and one should eat more warming food, while in the summer, when Pitta is dominant, one should eat more cooling food (which we do, instinctively, by eating more salad and ice cream in the summer).
Most food aggravate one or two of the doshas, and help subside one or two of the others. However, food can change its nature with cooking, or by combining with other food. Spices are particularly important in this respect, as they can neutralise the effect of the doshas, and therefore "balance" a food. For example, milk, which generally aggravate the Kapha dosha, can be balanced with heating spices, such as cinnamon or saffron, to make it acceptable for someone with kapha predominant. Tomatoes, which aggravate pitta, will benefit from being cooked with cumin, which calm the pitta dosha. Most of the traditional combinations of spices and food in Indian cooking are based on ayurvedic knowledge.
Because the different days of the week are ruled by different planets, the food we eat should suit the cosmic conditions, as sumarised in the table below.
Day of the week Dosha(s) to subside Note Sunday Pitta and Vata Anything eaten on that day will be easily digested Monday Kapha and Pitta Eat light food, sweet and pungent Tuesday All 3 doshas, but mostly Pitta Eat warm and satvic food Wednesday Pitta and Kapha Avoid sour and salty food Thursday Kapha and Vata Eat lightly Friday Kapha and Vata Eat pungent and hot food Saturday All 3 doshas, but mostly Vatta Eat heavy food
Of course, food should also be suitable for the individuals Prkruti (ayurvedic constitution). Note that an ayurvedic diet is not necessarily vegetarian, but that great emphasis is put on the freshness of the food. It should contain prana (life force). This is why in ayurvedic cooking, food is never reheated. One should use fresh products, and no tinned, preserved or frozen products, which do not contain prana. Organic produce should be used as much as possible, as chemical fertilisers produce dead food with little prana in it.