Of Ayurveda’s Three Pillars of Health, the first Pillar is food and nutrition – a topic which is inseparably woven into our material existence. While Western medicine has a machinist attitude towards nutrition, Ayurveda takes a fascinating and truly holistic approach.
Constitutional Nutrition: the Ayurvedic Approach to Diet
“Constitutional Nutrition” recognizes the necessity of each individual’s ability to digest and metabolise their food, and notes that this ability will differ according to the states of matter (“Panch Mahabhutani”) present within each person. It is concerned with four main concepts:
The individual’s constitutional metabolic nature (dosha)
The individual’s digestive capacity
The individual’s capacity to assimilate nutrients
The signs and symptoms of compromised digestion and assimilation
Constitutional Nutrition recognizes the mind-body relationship and thus stresses the importance of living a life that incorporates good quality food, moderate exercise, Dinacharya, meditation, and self-care to promote overall health. It aims to treat disease by finding the underlying cause of imbalance and treating it; prescribing nutritional and lifestyle remedies first, and medicine second.
What brings most people to Ayurveda is the recognition of bio-individuality – that each person has a uniques constitution, and thus, what works for one person won’t necessarily work for another. Each person has their own doshic constitution, as well as their own unique lifestyle restrictions and variables.
If you’re new to Ayurveda and curious about how to get started with Ayurvedic Nutrition, eating for your dosha may not be the best place to start. There are so many foundational behaviours we can engage in that will support refining the mind and senses, over time making it easier to tune into what our body needs.
Rather than trying to go straight into ‘eating for your dosha’ (there’s just too much that can go wrong), try implementing these five key shifts:
Shift One: Honour your body’s volume capacity by eating appropriate portion sizes (your 2 hands cupped together).
Shift Two: Eat in a calm, relaxed environment and pay attention to your meal.
Shift Three: Regulate your mealtimes. Regular meals at appropriate times of the day will improve Agni, digestion, and overall wellbeing.
Shift Four: Implement Dinacharya (inclusive of all foundational habits) to support Agni, optimal digestion, and bodily functioning.
Shift Five: Move away from/minimize refined and processed foods, and start moving toward a whole food, sattvic diet.
Encouraging mindful changes such as these will support you in making intelligent decisions about food without creating rigid rules and strict diet dogma. As you gently progress towards a more mode of goodness lifestyle, you’ll start to notice incredible results in both your physical and mental health.
And if you need a more tailored approach, get in touch with an Ayurvedic practitioner or Doctor who can assist you in eating and living for your unique body type and needs (hit us up if you need a referral – we know of some amazing online and offline doctors and practitioners).
For more on Ayurvedic Nutrition for Beginners, check out my free audio here.