Balance The Six Taste
Instead, learn about the six tastes that affect the influence of various foods on the Doshas:
- Sweet (especially grains and fruits)
- Sour (e.g., yogurt, lassi, lemon, tamarind, sumac, amchur powder)
- Salty (e.g., salt, salty condiments)
- Pungent (e.g., radish, peppers and most spices)
- Bitter (e.g., green leafy vegetables)
- Astringent (e.g., beans and lentils, walnuts, turmeric)
Think in terms of fruits, vegetables, grains, beans/lentils, milk products, oils, nuts/seeds and spices/herbs. In other words, use the natural categories. At your main meal, the plate will ideally contain abundant fresh vegetables, some whole grains and some beans along with a glass of lassi. Vegetables are mostly bitter tasting. Legumes are astringent. Grains primarily contribute sweet taste. Sugar should not be the main source of sweet taste. Whole cane sugar can be used in small amounts like a spice for Vata and Pitta. You won’t necessarily see the oil, nuts/seeds and spices, because they are used in relatively small amounts. The same goes for sour, salty and pungent tastes which deliver flavor. Oil and spices combine to make food unctuous and delicious. The healthful amount of oil used in the cooking depends on your Doshas and the season: liberal for Vata, minimal for Kapha. Fruit probably won’t be there except as a garnish or condiment, because it delivers greatest value when consumed by itself. You also won’t see processed or fast foods, which enrich the companies that aggressively market them and put you on the fast track to illness.
There is no need to count calories to manage your weight with Ayurveda. Most people spontaneously normalize weight and eliminate cravings when they adopt an Ayurvedic vegetarian diet appropriate for their Doshas, digestion and current state of balance.
- Favor wholesome, organically grown food freshly prepared with love.
- A vegetarian diet is more Sattvic than one including animal flesh and is most supportive of health and longevity.
- Your overall daily diet should include all six tastes.
- Particularly try to include a balance of all six of the tastes at your main meal (lunch). This is not necessary for breakfast and is optional for dinner.
- Favor foods that pacify any imbalance (see The Doshas).
- Rock (mineral) salt is more suitable for most people than sea salt or common table salt. It has a cooling aftertaste. When used in moderation, it will not aggravate Pitta Dosha. Pink Salt is widely available in most grocery stores.
- If your physiology is in balance, favor foods according to your Prakriti and the season
- Fresh fruit makes a very healthy breakfast. Depending on the type of fruit and the season, it can be lightly cooked with balancing spices with great benefit. Fresh fruit also makes a good afternoon snack.
- Fruit is best taken by itself at least 30 minutes before other foods. It is less desirable to have fruit in the evening as it is cooling to the digestive fire.
- Avoid leftovers (more than 6 hours after preparation), frozen, canned and deep fried foods.
- Vegetables should be well-cooked. Avoid salads and raw vegetables unless you have strong digestion and are trying to balance Kapha.
- Milk should be taken after boiling, either by itself or with other sweet-tasting foods.
- A slice of fresh ginger, or a pinch of cinnamon, cardamom or turmeric, boiled with the milk makes it more digestible.
- Adding 1 part water to 4 parts milk also makes it more digestible.
- Avoid “contradictory” combinations of foods which create toxic Ama:
- Milk with fish, eggs, sour foods, chocolate, coffee, radish, or salt
- Yogurt with milk, fish, banana, berries and other sour fruits
- Melons with other foods, especially cheese, grains and grilled food
- Nightshade vegetables (tomato, potato, eggplant, peppers) with milk or yogurt
- Avoid fermented foods other than yogurt and sour cream (e.g., vinegar, mold-ripened cheese, yeasted bread).
- Avoid heavy foods like meat, fish, poultry, cheese, yogurt, and root vegetables in the evening.
- Avoid foods and drinks containing alcohol, caffeine or chocolate.
- Avoid tobacco products and other mind-altering drugs.
- If you take honey, only use raw, uncooked varieties.
- Do not use honey in baking or add it to liquids warmer than body temperature.
- Do not use honey if you feel heat or burning in the body or have a fever.