Food that feeds your purpose. 

by | Autumn 2022, Conscious Living, Print Articles

To change your life, change one thing that you do every day.

The understanding that slight changes have an incrementally large effect on our lives is what Ayurvedic nutrition and cooking rests on.
The underrated human act of eating has a deeply profound effect on our experience of life. What we eat becomes who we are. We digest and assimilate whatever we ingest on a cellular level, with tangible effects on our physical, emotional and spiritual bodies.
Experiencing the world through our senses alone, leads to a distaste for the subtle and we suffer because of this distortion. The disconnection from our sense of taste, which is our ability to discern, affects our food choices and this is what Ayurvedic nutrition addresses.

Key principles
The Gunas: Sattva, Rajas Tamas
the universal principles represented by Sattva, Rajas and Tamas, affect our experience of food just as they do with everything else. Sattvic food, leaves us feeling calm, satiated and light. Rajasic food excites our senses, gives us energy and creates movement. Tamasic food leaves us feeling heavy, lethargic and dull. Although we tend towards wanting to elevate that which is Sattvic, no one is better than the other and all three are necessary to regulate balance in our bodies.

The Panchamahabhutas: the five Elements
Ayurveda rests on the premise that the universe consists of the five elements: Ether, air, fire, water, and earth. Our bodies consist of these elements as do the food we eat and the environment that surrounds us. The presence of these elements in food, defines the nature of the food and its effect on our body.

The Doshas: Vata, Pitta, Kapha and their combinations
the three doshas are present in our bodies, with one or two being dominant. An awareness of our Prakrithi, our current doshic state, helps us to use food as a regulator of imbalance in our being. Food and the six Ayurvedic tastes, the six Rasas, have a different effect on each dosha. We can thus choose foods to achieve positive health goals. The result is Ojas, a feeling of being satisfied and nourished. With this feeling of joy, we can achieve our purpose.

Attitudes around food and cooking
A person who adopts an Ayurvedic lifestyle, develops a subtle awareness of the nature and gift present in everything. We see ourselves as a part of, rather than as a user of the world around us. An appreciation grows for what we receive. This sense of gratitude imbues our attitudes towards the act of acquiring, preparing, cooking, storing and eating food, as well as how we dispose of food waste. This shows up as food choices and repeated actions that respect the sun, the earth, water and all living things.

Ayurveda is not vegetarian, nor vegan. It is a set of scientific principles that anyone can apply to any kind of lifestyle or food preference.

when living along with nature rather than despite it, we respect seasonal changes, adapting to them. In Ayurvedic cooking, we eat the food that is in season as it best prepares our body for the changes that the season brings.
A natural rhythm develops, with a pause between every change of season, both in nature and our own lives. During the pause, we create space with a cleanse to rid our bodies of the toxins acquired during the season that is passing. We then prepare appropriately for the season coming.

Agni is our ability to digest our food. An impaired Agni, leaves food undigested, which decays and creates a toxic build-up in our bodies, which is absorbed into our cells. Regulating the strength of our Agni, is of fundamental importance in Ayurvedic nutrition. Too weak an Agni, leaves us malnourished and with the potential for illness and disease. An overactive Agni, pushes the body beyond its capacity to absorb, leading to imbalances that result in the body consuming itself.

Michele Mistry studied Ayurvedic nutrition in Kerala India. She is the owner of INDIKAAP Ayurveda, a vegan food brand. INDIKAAP Vegan Ayurveda has a food pod at Makers Landing, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town. Michele consults privately, hosts cooking classes and retreats on Ayurvedic nutrition and lifestyle.