What does it mean to eat healthy? Does it mean organic, non-GMO, gluten free, paleo, vegetarian, vegan, fruitarian, raw food only? Macrobiotic or micro-biotic? No fat, low fat, no carb, low carb? Juicing and all Kale?
What is your preferred nutritional strategy? Or are you like so many, your ears are buzzing with the information we are inundated with through the media, and the Internet? Feeling overwhelmed? Ready to give up? Tried many things and still don't have the results you were seeking?
Let me give you another take on the food dilemma. I'm hoping to give you choices, not to take more food-freedom away from you.
Most of the above dietary approaches are fairly young, some only sprang up in the last decade or two, I want to introduce you to a system that is quite old. Ancient, really. More then 5000 years old. Ayurveda! The healing system of Ayurveda originates in India and is practiced all around the globe, it is the pre-curser to modern Naturopathy, Homeopathy, Polarity therapy and many other healing modalities.
Ayurveda approaches nutrition differently.
Ayurveda differentiates between three body-mind types, the Doshas. The Doshas represent natural elements in our bodies. Air, Fire, and Water. The theory is that we all are made of each of these elements, however, the element that is predominant determines which Dosha type you are. The Air type is called Vata, Fire is Pitta, and Water is Kapha. Which Dosha you are has a lot to do with what foods work for you, and what may not. This can be very surprising.
Take for example the Raw-food trend.
There is no doubt about the health benefits of eating raw fruit and veggies; we need the minerals, vitamins, enzymes, antioxidants, trace nutrients. Fresh food is very high in life energy, or Prana. Yet some types perform better on a diet of raw foods then others.
For example, the Kapha, or water type tends to have an endomorph build, this is a person who easily puts on weight and struggles to lose it. Yet Kapha is also has difficulty digesting food and nutrients, this type tends to have a slow metabolism. That's where some of the weight problems come from. Raw food is difficult to digest and may cause Kapha’s metabolism to get increasingly sluggish with time. This is not the best dietary option for this type, even though according to western dietary education it would make sense to feed someone struggling to lose weight, salads.
Vata tends to be ectomorph, a skinnier body type with variable digestive strength. This type often has trouble with hard to digest foods also. The Vata type may also tend to not absorb nutrients as well as the body should. Uncooked foods are difficult to digest and a majority of fruit and salads in the diet also creates a reducing effect. The Vata type may find that at first their energy goes through the roof on an exclusive raw food regime, yet after some time, months or just a few short years, their system might malfunction and lead to other health issues.
The Pitta type, fiery in nature, can handle raw food the best of the three doshas. Pitta's digestion is strong and their metabolism is fast. This type can digest raw foods with ease and the reducing and cooling nature of most raw food items can help to restore balance to Pitta who tends to run hot quickly. Yet even for the Pitta type an exclusive raw eating regime can become problematic and this types digestive fire will grow dimmer with time. What we can see here is that moderation is key in everything we do. Raw foods are loaded with nutrients and necessary for a healthy nutrition. If you are a strict raw-foodie, I recommend picking foods that work for your particular body type.
Four Basics for Eating Raw and Healthy:
- Buy organic greens and fruits wherever you can.
- Observe your digestion and energy levels. Note any changes and keep track.
- Moderation in everything really truly is key to a healthy body and mind.
- Summer certainly is a great time to experiment with fresh vegetables and fruit you haven’t tried yet.
Claudia Richey is a personal trainer and Ayurvedic wellness practitioner. She is the founder of DoshaFit®, merging ancient Ayurveda with modern exercise science, and the creator of The Breaking Free Program which teaches women to live a healthy life according to their body-mind type. You can find Claudia’s work at http://www.ClaudiaRichey.com and http://www.DoshaFit.com
Images courtesy of Claudia Richey.