Eating out at restaurants, cooking for different doshas, timing your meals, learning to cook, how do you fit it into modern life and where do you even start? Starting any new way of eating can be exciting, full of new things to learn and something you can throw yourself into. But most people soon find themselves falling out of it just as quickly as they started. Ayurveda is about sustainability and maintaining healthy habits that you can use throughout a lifetime. It is sustainability that flows with the tides and seasons of life, making it an ideal lifestyle for anyone. However, you may still find yourself asking these common questions. We are here to help you answer them!
- What if you are running low on cash or living paycheck to paycheck?
This is one of the most frequently asked questions when changing to ANY diet lifestyle. However in the case of Ayurveda, ayurvedic cooking is extremely affordable because the pantry staples are cheap and you can buy them in bulk. These staples are grains and legumes, which are full of excellent vitamins, protein, and carbs. Things like rice, quinoa, lentils, and beans are key to always having on hand. Meal-planning will also make your shopping list smaller and help save you money. Buy only what you need for the week in fresh fruits and veggies. Buying organic tends to be more expensive than conventional, but keep your eye out for deals on seasonal veggies as well as checking out local farmers markets because they tend to be less expensive than your local grocery stores. This bring me to the next common question.
- Do you always need to buy Organic?
In general, yes. The more organic you can buy, the safer you are. However, there are some exceptions to this. Check out the Clean 15 and the Dirty Dozen list for the foods that generally are safer from pesticides and the foods that are the worst carriers for pesticides. There are hundreds of studies done on children who live around farm land that use pesticides or eat food that has pesticides which has led to chronic illness. Just as a rule of thumb though, if you eat the skin, buy it organically and clean it thoroughly once you get it home. Things like avocado, bananas, and oranges have thicker skin, so there is a smaller amount of residual pesticides on the inside. Foods like grapes, strawberries, leafy greens, and veggies should be purchased organically because you eat the whole thing.
- How do you cook for people with different doshas?
You might find yourself thinking “I have 4 people in my family, do I have to cook a separate meal for each of them?” and the answer is absolutely not. Eating ayurvedically is about eating fresh fruits and veggies that are seasonal, organic, and supply the body with quality nutrients. Next it is about identifying potential imbalances and feeding the body to help return the gut to a healthier state. With this in mind, focus on the people of your family and what they need. Are you cooking for a pitta? Keep warming spices to the side for people to add to their own plates. Is there a Kapha? Avoid too much oil in the cooking process and keep any dairy products on the side for others to add. Cooking for a vata? Including warm cooked veggies at every meal will benefit all doshas, but keep any raw food separate. In general, doshas change with the seasons. Cook more warming foods in winter, and more cooling foods in summer.
- What if you don’t know how to cook?
You don’t need any cooking experience to start eating and cooking ayurvedically. All you need is very basic ingredients, some delicious herbs and spices and you have a delicious ayurvedic meal. Some staples to always have on hand are
- Organic seasonal fruits and veggies
- Onions, garlic, and ginger
- Sesame, coconut oil, olive oil, and avocado oil
- Nuts and seeds
- Spices: cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, coriander, cloves, star anise, nutmeg, black pepper, sea salt, ajwan, fenugreek, asafoetida, and mustard seed.
You can have a delicious grain bowl in just a few minutes with quinoa, sauteed veggies nuts or seeds, sprinkled with cumin, pepper, salt, turmeric, and cilantro in just a few minutes when you keep these things on hand. A great appliance to have is a slow cooker. You can throw in whatever you want and when you come home at the end of the day, you have a hot meal waiting for you.
- What if I don’t have time to cook?
The best rule of thumb to have is “cook once, eat twice.” Traditionally, ayurvedic cooking encourages you to cook fresh and eat fresh because that’s when your food holds the most life force (prana). However, if you make a large batch of rice/quinoa at the beginning of the day, then you can have rice with your lunch and dinner, and all the time you need to find is to cook up your veggies/meat. Always remember that if the leftovers are over 12 hours old, it is not encouraged that you eat them.
- Is meat allowed?
Meat is seen as a necessity only to sustain life in life threatening situations. In winter time, you need more protein and fat to keep you warm. However outside of this, meat can be extremely hard to digest, especially when you mix it with other foods. Eating meat and dairy is a bad combination. Also meat with grains can also be a bad combination as it can cause a lot of gas. If you are going to consume meat, ALWAYS make sure it is organic, grass fed with no antibiotics. Pair it with some seasonal veggies and you will be able to digest it a little easier.
- How do you eat Ayurvedically at a restaurant?
The easiest way to do this is to check a restaurant’s online menu before you go! Take a look and see if there are appropriate foods that you can make work and pick out a few options before you go. Ask for warm water with lemon instead of the ice water they usually give you. If you want a salad, go for options with cooked veggies that go with it. Some vegetarian options can be good but may also contain dairy in them still. Avoid any dishes that are fried or cooked in oil. Ask what the dish is cooked in and avoid anything that uses canola, corn, soybean, and safflower oil. You may also be able to ask the chef to cook you up something entirely new if they are up for it! However, not everywhere is going to be perfect so don’t beat yourself up if the meal isn’t perfectly ayurvedic.
- Where should I start?
We are here to help you if you don’t know where to start! If you would like help in knowing exactly where your imbalances are, schedule a consultation with us! In the meantime, here are some general tips to help you get started in an Ayurvedic lifestyle.
- Eliminate alcohol, coffee, tobacco, dairy, and sugar
- Eating a warm breakfast of grains and spices
- Make lunch your biggest meal of the day
- Follow the daily rhythm; sleep earlier, wake up earlier, cook fresh
- Try tongue scraping and oil pulling in the mornings
- Practicing breathing, meditation, and healthy movement
If you are curious to dive into more of your dosha and what some special tips for you might be, shoot us an email or give us a call. We would love to help you in starting a healthier, sustainable lifestyle!