The Ayurvedic Buffet Table

While it’s tempting to load up on every last macaroni dish at a backyard barbeque, 30 minutes after indulging, you always wish you hadn’t.

Ayurveda is similar. Though the age-old wisdom of Ayurveda is important and useful, what was appropriate 5,000 years is often no longer practical. Today, we can look at the main lessons of Ayurveda and apply the concept of balance and quality choices to our daily lives.

Take a good look at the options on the Ayurvedic buffet table and select a few things that would work best for you and your lifestyle. Try them out for a week or two and see how it goes. If those choices work well, keep going! If they aren’t blending well into your lifestyle or having desirable effects, trade them in for other selections at the buffet table. You have options–make Ayurveda work for you.

The Buffet Spread

1. Scrape Your Tongue
In Ayurveda, the oral cavity is the gateway between your mind/body and the external environment, Thus, maintaining its health is imperative to overall well-being. You may notice sometimes that your tongue has a coating–that’s known as Ama, a form of toxic residue in the mind or body. The American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology notes that coating on the tongue is a sign of keratin imbalance, often relating from a diet heavy in sugar, fat, and processed foods. Removing the coating on your tongue helps balance Kapha Dosha and the heavy, dull qualities in your physiology, allowing you to taste and enjoy your food more and improving GI motility.

Choose a stainless steel, curved tongue scraper and scrape first thing in the morning. Scrape from the back of your tongue towards the front 7-14 times, and avoid going too far too to prevent stimulating your gag reflex. Note the color, quantity, thickness, and location on your tongue. You may even anticipate how diet and lifestyle affect what you see on your tongue.

2. Drink Warm Lemon Water
Instead of starting your day with a cold glass of water or coffee, try drinking a cup of warm water with lemon first thing instead. Warm water helps stimulate the GI system and peristalsis (movement through your intestines).  If your digestion is ultra sluggish, you can try adding ginger. Add ¼ - ½ tsp of dry ginger or ½ - 1 tsp of fresh ginger.

3. Make Time For The Bathroom
A regular bowel movement upon waking is a sign of a healthy digestive system. A “normal” bowel movement is soft, formed, and has little odor. Excessive mucus, undigested food, or a pellet-like or loose consistency all indicate a digestive imbalance. Sitting on the toilet every morning at the same time every morning (even if you do not have the urge to go) helps train your body to maintain a bathroom schedule.  

4. Use Oils On Your Body
Abhyanga is the practice of applying medicated oils to your skin, usually in a structured manner. Oils nourish the skin, calm the nervous system, liberate deeply seated toxins, and promote the circulation of lymph tissue. Traditionally, Abhyanga oil is warmed and applied 15-20 minutes prior to bathing. This practice does not work well for me because 1) I don’t have 15-20 minutes to wait before bathing, and 2) would never remember to do it. I keep my Abhyanga oil in the shower, wash my body first, then apply the Abhyanga oil to my whole body, including my face (you can never have enough oil). I make sure the water running is really warm–this serves as a form of steam therapy (double whammy). I then do everything else I need to do without washing off the oil–it’s meant to stay on your body. Make sure you use oils that are appropriate for your Dosha.

5. Use Oils In Your Body
One of the best ways to pacify your Dosha is to ingest oil. To pacify Vata, cook with olive, castor, sesame, or avocado oil; to pacify Pitta, use coconut or sunflower oil or ghee; and to pacify Kapha, use a tiny bit of an oil that is light and/or heating (like grapeseed, mustard, or sesame).  Consuming oils helps lubricate the GI system and enhances digestion when not consumed in excess. If too few oils or fats are eaten, the digestive system can become dry and irritated, Agni is weakened, and constipation occurs. Too much oil leads to diarrhea, indigestion, disrupted Agni, and also a variable appetite. Eating the right fats are essential for cell structure, proper metabolism, maintaining homeostasis, and satisfying hunger.   

This Week’s Takeaway
Practicing Ayurveda is as simple as choosing a few practices to incorporate into your daily life. Once you become familiar with the qualities that you are primarily made up of (your Dosha –- we’ll find out yours soon!), it is easy to learn how to create and maintain balance. The best part is that nothing (food, exercise, etc.) is completely off limits. There are no can/cannots, yes/nos, or included/excluded.  

Next Week
Next week, I will describe more items you can select from the buffet table, and how to apply balancing forces to make Ayurveda work for you. For example, I am a serious Vata and caffeine is not the greatest thing in the world for me, but I do love me a good cup of coffee in the morning. How do I make it work?? Find out the answer to this question, and learn how to make a variety of foods and lifestyle choices work for your Dosha.