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On Yogic Food Plans

What I didn’t know until I read the article was that Yoga Journal‘s "How to Eat Like a Yogi" was really about Ayurvedic Philosophy as it relates to your body (and mind and constitution) type and what you should be eating to keep it in balance, at least according to the Vedas.

I’ve had this type of "nutritional" counseling, and here’s my experience, with some resources if you’re interested:

  • has simple, clear charts and lists regarding the three Doshas (think body type, plus): Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Many people are more than one thing. I am Pitta, and my sister is Pitta Kapha. Genetics will play a part. As a triple fire sign, in any system I’m whatever has the most fire (in this case, Pitta).
  • Check out the links to pages for characteristics of each Dosha and signs of the Dosha’s imbalance. For instance, Pitta aggravation often manifests as: irritable, impatient, critical, weakness due to blood sugar.
  • Each Dosha has a food plan, which is where it gets really interesting if you’d like to do a little experimenting with/on yourself. Here’s the plan to balance Pitta. Apparently I should be avoiding red meat and seafood, but can eat shrimp (I thought it was from the sea, oui?), chicken and turkey in small amounts. Note that there’s no talk of ethics in the food plan; it’s all about what is appropriate to maintain balance for the constitution.
  • A general rule is that tastes you crave are probably tastes to avoid. For instance, as a fiery type, I should avoid spicy food, so I should back off the cayenne pepper, which is difficult, as sometimes I crave it.
  • Results: Forget about the animal products for a moment (everyone can eat some according to Ayurveda, although Kaphas should definitely avoid dairy as it is mucous-forming and one of their biggest problems is mucous, if you must know). My experience is that the food plan for Pitta does indeed make me feel balanced and light, and my digestion is easy. I simply don’t eat ghee or any of the other (few) animal products acceptable for Pitta people.

I recommend researching what type you are and spending a couple of weeks following the food plan, minus the animals of course. It’s not necessary to not eliminate Ayurveda from consideration just because animal products are included. You just might find that with a little alteration in your choices of fruits, vegetables, grains, oils, beans, nuts and seeds, sweeteners and herbs and spices, you might feel better. Feel better for me also includes less mental anxiety, which is alleviated (or at least that’s the plan) by daily meditation.  And yoga a couple of times a week.

I have had several practitioners of Ayurvedic medicine try to persuade me to eat ice cream, believe it or not. They said I need something cold and smooth to counter all of my edges and my fire (inside and out, as I do live 30 minutes from the Bahamas, and it’s rarely cold here). I wasn’t about to start drinking anybody’s milk, but I did increase my consumption of frozen fruit shakes with added pea or hemp protein and almond milk and I did find that there was a positive shift in the way I felt, both physically and mentally.

I’m always in search of strategies to increase my mental and physical performance, and if you are too, I recommend at least exploring Ayurveda. For those people who used to be vegans or vegetarians (if I recall correctly there are two in the Yoga Journal article) and say that once they started eating animals again they felt better, I’d say that it’s not the animals they need, but some nutrient or other, and they should try harder to obtain that nutrient rather than kill anybody.

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