When it comes to food and diet, there are seemingly endless options and opinions regarding the best path towards health. With modern diet trends that come and go with the seasons, it can be difficult to know which direction to turn and which approach is truly the right fit for you.
Ayurveda offers a timeless philosophy of food to help us understand what may or may not work for our individual constitutions.
In the health industry one of people’s main concerns is losing weight and looking “good”. Though Ayurveda falls under the health industry category, the Ayurvedic approach to diet is understood through a lens that involves the doshas, seasons, environment, and the energetic qualities of food. Ayurveda is adaptable—it grows and changes as the world grows and changes.
Modern diets like the keto diet, the Paleo diet, and intermittent fasting may all have adaptations that are moving in the right direction of health, however, Ayurveda takes it one step further in making sure that the entire body is optimizing its digestion and is not sacrificing one thing for the other. When considering these diets, it’s important to consider your body as a whole and make sure each moving part is receiving the nourishment it needs. This is why Ayurveda emphasizes knowing your dosha and any current imbalances that are present, even before starting an Ayurvedic diet.
Hard to Lose, Easy to Gain
A deep issue is that we are told not to trust our hunger, not to eat till we are satisfied, and to dislike what we look like. Another problem is counting calories, macros, and carbs, and making sure there is a deficit. This completely eliminates communication with how you feel and what external and internal things you’re experiencing. Diets tend to not work because they aren’t a permanent lifestyle change. Three-day juice cleanses or a month without carbs isn’t going to cleanse your body or get rid of fat permanently. When diets are built on restriction and quick fixes they tend to either lead to eating more after the diet or gaining the weight back.
The weight loss industry is a $66 billion industry that profits off of people not feeling comfortable and happy in their bodies. 95% of diets fail and the industry benefits more off of them when they do. The reason why diets fail is that they are built on the idea of restriction and “weight loss foods”. When people restrict, eat small meals, don’t feel satiated after meals, and eat weight loss shakes or bars, it usually leads to a binge. This is a serious issue that needs to be addressed from the root cause.
Dieting foods are often under the guise of “healthy.” This includes protein bars, granola, protein shakes, and juices, but are often highly processed, sugary (or with alcohol sugars), and don’t satisfy. We have seen this in the fat-free epidemic that has led to worse health issues and the misinformation that fats are bad for your body. We also often hear about this with fruit in that they have “too much sugar”. Fructose in fruits metabolizes easily than refined sugar in a cookie for example. Fruit is better than a zero-sugar soda because your body knows how to digest and assimilate the nutrients in fruit. We have an article about “10 Fake Healthy Foods to Watch Out For!” Check it out to see what ingredients are marketed as “healthy” but are very much not.
Ayurvedic Take on Modern Diets
We see a lot of information on Keto diets, intermittent fasting, paleo, and a few others. And while these have some basis in facts, they often sacrifice one body’s function for another. Here are some Ayurvedic perspectives on modern diets.
Ayurveda has long promoted the health benefits of fasting, though the method by which Ayurveda recommends fasting may be a little different than the fad of intermittent fasting we see now. Ayurveda suggests eating an early dinner as the last meal of the day and not eating again until breakfast time. So if you’ve finished dinner by 6 p.m. and avoid food until 10 a.m. the next day. This is in contrast to common modern intermittent fasting methods that involve daily 16-hour fasts or fasting for 24 hours, twice per week. The Ayurvedic approach offers a more sustainable approach. However, please be aware of your current dosha as the Vata qualities increase when fasting is prolonged.
Keto and Paleo Diets:
Keto is a high-fat, low-carb diet that functions on the belief that keeping the body in a state of ketosis burns stored fat. Participants consume less than 20 grams of carbohydrates per day and focus mainly on meats, eggs, cheese, fish, nuts, butter, oils, and vegetables while avoiding sugar, bread, and other grains, beans, and even fruit.
Paleo is similar in that it recommends the high-fat, low carb approach, but avoids eating legumes and grain all together.
From an Ayurvedic perspective, these diets could be useful in short periods of time. But Ayurveda does not work in the short term. It focuses on long term, sustainable, and preventative solutions for the whole body. Keto may be challenging for Pittas who need the sweet taste of fruits and grains to help cool down their systems, while the excess oil may be aggravating to kapha and pitta, it may benefit Vata.
The next biggest flaw in these diets is that they hold a “one-size-fits-all” approach which is non sustainable, and can be harmful to the body. A temporary solution is what has gotten you into this situation to begin with. A temporary fix is not going to get you out of it.
This is just a very quick example of how these diets are based on some working facts and may supply benefits in the short term, but they also sacrifice other functions of the body in order to achieve weight loss or another outcome. Ayurveda makes it simple in that it incorporates all of these things together to make seasonal eating easy.
Why Ayurveda Works
Ayurveda’s approach to diet offers us wisdom that we can modify with each season and adapt to meet each person as an individual. Through the flow with the natural world, our bodies receive the nourishment they need from local, organic, home-cooked meals that suit our personal needs.
The first step in getting there is finding your dosha and what your current imbalances are. Then you can find what works for YOU, not following a one-size-fits-all diet that will only lead you back to where you started. Give us a call or email us to start finding what works for you and what your body is communicating to you!