7 Ayurvedic Eating Habits to Stay Healthy in Quarantine
by Eva Dusch
With no colleagues or stressed managers peeking over your shoulder during this lockdown, many of us are (secretly) turning to the snack cupboard. Perhaps, a few times too often. Here's how to make your COVID-19 diet Kapha proof.
Wait, there’s a C19-diet? Not really, unless you let emotions like stress, anxiety, uncertainty, and worry take over and steer you towards the kitchen cabinet every ten minutes. These Vata-dosha emotions make us crave foods and drinks that will not only fuel these emotions but also make our digestive systems go haywire. This can trigger Kapha aggravation (slow, stagnant and heavy qualities) which increases the risk of weight gain. The trick to staying healthy is to counterbalance these Kapha-qualities.
Try the following tips so you can slide through this season with lightness and grace.
1. Eat less than you feel hungry for
Portion control is one of the keys to maintaining a healthy diet. Eat one-pot meals so there’s less chance of over-eating or bingeing on all the leftovers (“you’re not going to eat that? Oh well, give it to me then”). A general Ayurvedic principle states: ‘Don't eat more than the amount of food you can hold in your two cupped hands.’ Overeating stimulates the production of Ama (undigested waste that cannot be utilized by the body) and worsens digestion, exactly what should not happen. Tip: honour the burp! The first burp is a signal from the body saying ‘that’s enough for now’. Being conscious of your first burp allows you to eat the right amount of food so that your body can digest well.
2. Include foods that are spicy or well-seasoned
It helps the digestive fire (called Agni in Sanskrit) and decreases fat in the body. Flavour your curries, vegetables, dhal, and soups with spices that are mildly pungent, such as black pepper, fresh ginger, cinnamon, cumin, and turmeric. Fresh garlic is also anti-Kapha. Cayenne helps to process the heaviness of food and makes it light and easily digestible.
3. Emphasize bitter and astringent tastes
Taste (called Rasa in Sanskrit) does not only make us happy or cringe, but it also serves as a medicine. Different tastes can help us find balance again. Bitter and astringent tastes balance Kapha dosha and the bitter taste is deeply cleansing to the body --you can find these in green leafy vegetables, split mung dal and other bean soups or stews, and astringent vegetables such as asparagus, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts.
4. Keep it warm
We need the fire element to keep our metabolism healthy. Choose cooked meals over salads and raw veggies, and warm beverages over cold drinks. The fire element can also be added to the water you drink, by boiling it. By sipping warm water throughout the day, the fire energy will permeate your body and help you feel energized and awake. And what better than bathing your face in the sun and breaaaathe deeply.
5. Dairy is a no-no (sorry)
Yes, we hear you wail now. For many people, this is a tough one (and we totally understand). But here’s a good reason for it. Heavy, cold foods will slow your metabolism and increase the cold, heavy qualities of Kapha in your body. Especially yoghurt and cheese should be avoided as it will lead to clogging in the body while this time of year cleansing is very important. If dairy is a favourite, make sure it is warm and spiced (with cardamom or cinnamon).
6. Eat sweets in moderation
Oh, those cookies! And chocolate! And cakes! Yes, we all love our sweet stuff. Especially when we’ve been sitting in the house all day behind our computer, and our energy starts to plunge. But all this snacking may show in unwanted extra weight and increases feelings of fatigue and dullness. Some healthier options are dates and other dried fruits, honey, and pure (bitter) chocolate.
7. Try an Agni shot
If your Agni is slow-burning (Kapha), a meal can leave you with an after-dinner-dip. Stoking up the fire before eating any food can make a huge difference. For example: chew a thin slice of fresh ginger with a pinch of salt and lemon juice. Side note: if you’re a fiery Pitta type — or experiencing Pitta imbalances — this might be too heating for you.
For more handy tips on how to gracefully slide through Spring season: Kapha Season: How to feel light and bright this spring
This blog was written by a student in our Ayurveda Practitioner Studies degree programme. If you are interested in becoming an Ayurveda Practitioner or want to deepen your professional knowledge, skills, and experience in the field of Ayurveda - see our website here.
It’s when we look beyond the gross outer layers of life that we find our way to the more subtle layers that can shift your whole being and perspective on life. That’s how it felt when Eva encountered the path of Ayurveda. After years of practising yoga and meditation, it was the cherry on the cake. The foundation she was looking for, that connects everything. No matter where you go. After working for years as a writer and freelance journalist, she took a big break in 2016 to travel the world. She went to all corners of the planet, living in New Zealand and South America for a while. As unstable and challenging the circumstances sometimes were, it was through yoga and Ayurveda that she found stability, balance, and inner peace. Something she brought back home with her when she returned to Amsterdam in the spring of 2019. That same year, she started her journey with the Delight Academy to deepen her knowledge, skills, and experience in the field of Ayurveda. Her motivation to become an Ayurvedic Practitioner is to help people reconnect with their bodies and inner knowing again. Encouraging them to take their health into their own hands, using nutrition, awareness, and balance as tools. She believes in conscious, healthy, and joyful living inspired by the beauty and depth of Ayurvedic wisdom and holistic philosophies. Photo credit: Kiki Reijners