According to Ayurveda, good digestion is the key to good health. When one’s digestion has been compromised, a light diet is often a recommended step in helping to get agni (the digestive “fire”) back in working order. Recently someone expressed concern about adopting this light diet. His concert was that he did not want to lose weight or increase Vata, which was already out of balance.
Eating light does not necessarily mean eating less—it means eating substantial quantities of lighter foods. Foundational to Ayurveda’s dietary advice is becoming attuned to your body’s signals. If your body is telling you that it is hungry, you need to eat. Otherwise, your agni (digestive fire), not having any food to digest, will start to digest your bodily tissues and you will lose weight. If you are trying to maintain a constant weight, eat when you feel hungry, even if the sensation is not very strong.
As you become more and more balanced, that feeling of hunger should begin to appear at mealtimes, especially at noon when your digestion is naturally stronger. And over time, you’ll find that at each mealtime you will have developed an appetite that suits your ability to digest and that maintains your weight.
Your ability to digest will be helped by a regular exercise program.
Of course when the advice is given to eat when hungry, this means to eat fresh, pure foods. Ayurveda recommends foods that are abundant in prana — the universal life-force that gives life to all life. These would include organic fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains and healthy oils. Foods such as canned and processed food, foods prepared with chemical fertilizers or sprays, and left-over foods would not be considered foods that contain “life-force”.
To increase muscle mass, favor fleshy fruits like raisins, dates, figs and mangoes, all of which specifically nourish muscle tissue.
Also helpful for digestion is lassi, a drink made from freshly prepared yogurt mixed with water. You can add sweetener and spices such as cardamom to taste.
Apples, Kiwi, Prunes, Apricots, Loquat, Tangerines, Bananas, Lychee, Pomegranate, Cantaloupe, Mango, Papaya, Cherries, Melons, Nectarines, Cranberry, Honeydew, Oranges, Grapefruits, Watermelon, Pineapples, Grapes, Peaches, Plums, Guava, Pears, Persimmon
Artichokes, Eggplant, Lettuce, Beets, Mustard, Greens, Asparagus, Daikon, Onions, Endive, Fennel, Maitake, Parsnips, Bok Choy, Peas, Broccoli, Green Beans, Potatoes, Brussels Sprouts, Kale, Radishes, Cabbage, Leeks, Lima Beans, Shallots, Carrots, Celery, Spinach, Cauliflower, Chard, Chanterelles, Sprouts, Corn, Squash, Shitake, Mushrooms, Watercress, Turnips, Yams
Sprouted Whole Grains
Amaranth, Barley, Buckwheat, Bulgur, Millet, Quinoa, Rice: Basmati, Brown and Wild Rice.
Olive, Safflower, Sesame, Sunflower,
Garbanzo, Lentils, Mung and other Dals
Asafoetida (hing), Coriander, Basil, Cumin, Nutmeg, Black Pepper, Fennel seed, Parsley, Cardamom, Fenugreek, Turmeric, Cinnamon, Cloves, Ginger
Brazil nuts, Pumpkin seeds, Sunflower seeds, Walnuts
Milks & Cheese
Unhomogenized Cow’s Milk, Seed milk, Hemp milk, Almond or other nut milk
Cane juice, Raw honey, Stevia, Fruit Juices, Maple Syrup
For more information on programs to improve digestion, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa website: