Four Ayurvedic Food Rules That Support Your Overall Health

Ayurveda is an ancient healing practice that originated in India. It's meant to promote the health of the mind and body from the inside out, based on the foods we consume. Not only do Ayurvedic food rules focus on what we eat, but they focus on how we eat, labeling the act of breaking bread (a.k.a. mealtime) as a sacred ritual. It prioritizes giving reverence to both the body and our food, which in return promotes several health benefits. Some of these benefits include preventing food waste, excessive dieting, and improving mindfulness when eating (per MindBodyGreen).

The first and foremost food rule is to prioritize real, living foods over non-living foods, shares MindBodyGreen. According to Chopra, our bodies contain a life force called prana in Ayurveda, which is in charge of our energy, vitality, and overall health. In order to replenish this prana, it's important to consume whole foods from the ground because they are highest in prana (per Chopra). In other words, the fresher, the better. This is because fresh whole foods (i.e. fresh salmon) will make you feel more connected and alive, while lifeless foods (i.e. canned salmon) may lead to more dullness, sickness, and sleepiness (via MindBodyGreen).

When it comes to choosing these foods, MindBodyGreen suggests planning your meal in advance and sticking to high-quality foods. Opt for shopping organically and locally when possible. Meal planning may save time and brain power, and it may add to the sacredness of eating.

Other Ayurvedic food rules for healthy eating

Before you devour your food, it's important to think about its taste. Is it salty? Is it sweet, yet pungent? In the Ayurveda tradition, Chopra notes that there are six different tastes, and each of these communicates with the energetic body and cells in different ways. The flavors and their cellular information are as follows: salt (balancing), sweet (nourishing and grounding), sour (cleansing), bitter (mineralizing and detoxifying), astringent (anti-inflammatory), pungent (stimulating and warming). The Ayurvedic food rule here is to incorporate all six tastes (at least in small amounts) into every meal, points out Chopra. For instance, add a dash of salt on toast for a salty taste, or squeeze a lemon into your water for a sour taste.

Believe it or not, it's equally important to activate your senses. When all five senses are utilized, this is called being present. Adopting a mindset of being present while eating helps create a sacred space. According to a 2019 study published in Integrative Medicine: A Clinician's Journal, mindful eating improves both digestive and gastrointestinal function. MindBodyGreen suggests taking time to be grateful for your meal by admiring the colors (sight), smell, flavors (taste), and textures (touch) of your food. This even includes appreciating the sounds of your chewing, even if you're chowing down on a giant burger. To take it a step further, MindBodyGreen also recommends reciting a self-reverence mantra throughout the day.