According to Ayurveda, food is not about carbs, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals. It’s for the consciousness, for satisfying the mind, lifting the spirit and revitalizing the body–which is why we like soul food. Food should smell the pleasant aroma, should be tasty, freshly-prepared, with the gifts of nature, with no energy of violence, and preferably sanctified. Food also influences the character. If someone needs optimism they can eat an apple; if one wants to be calm, then a pear is a good choice.
It’s also useful to know at what time and what food items are best to consume. In this post I would like to briefly cover this subject based on the sources of Ayurveda. Since vegan diets are plants-based, the scope of food is fruits and berries, vegetables, nuts and seeds, grains and beans, spices.
Fruits: We all know that fruits are recommended for eating separately. Wait for at least half an hour before eating some other food. Some fruits can be eaten as a snack all day long but some shouldn’t be eaten in the evening. However, the most suitable time to have a fruit is morning: it should be the first food of the day and eaten on an empty stomach. This way it’s processed easily and empties the stomach for the next food. It’s not recommended to eat fruits for dessert as they start fermenting in the stomach while waiting for their turn to be assimilated. All fruits except for citrus ones can be eaten in the morning (bananas, apples, pears, apricots, peaches, kiwi, and mango). According to Ayurveda, citrus fruits (lemon, grapefruit, orange, and tangerine) and pomegranate are better to be eaten between 10 am and 3 pm, i.e. before lunch. Watermelon should be eaten strictly on its own between 11 am and 5 pm. Melon is a separate snack too, ideally between 9 am and 4 pm. All berries (cherries, grapes, blueberries, and raspberries) except for strawberries are good for breakfast but they should not be eaten in the evening with an exception of grapes. The time for strawberries is between 10 am and 4 pm. Dried fruits (raisins, figs, apricots, prunes and dates) are suitable for any meal but the best time is breakfast and they can be eaten in combination with other food (nuts, seeds) but not together with fresh fruits. Generally fresh fruits are recommended for warm seasons, and dried fruits are better for the cold season. Pitta people with more agni (fire) can enjoy fresh fruits in any season.
Nuts: Ayurveda recommends baking nuts to make them dry for better digestion. Such nuts as walnuts, almonds and pistachios can be eaten for each meal but hazelnuts and cashews are best for lunch or for an afternoon snack.
Vegetables: All vegetables except carrots belong to lunch. However, beets, cucumber, squash and turnip can be a pre-lunch snack with the earliest time 10 am. Also potatoes, tomatoes, purple cabbage, egg-plant, radish and dill are not recommended for dinner. Better choices for supper (5-7 pm) are bell pepper, carrots, beets, green cabbage, yellow squash, cucumber, parsley, turnip and lettuce.
Spices: Morning spices are: cinnamon to go with sweet breakfast; vanilla, cardamom and fennel (the last two spice seeds or powder can be used for each meal). All peppers are only good for lunch when spicy food can be eaten. Any spicy dishes should be avoided for supper/dinner. Ginger, paprika and nutmeg are also recommended only for the lunch time.
Grains and beans: All grains and beans except for buckwheat (which is not a grain but a seed, and can be served for each meal) should be prepared for lunch only.
Balancing your digestive Agni is a key principle in Ayurvedic medicine. That's why Ayurveda recommends a number of general practices for better digestion. Digestive Agni can be compared to a burning fire. If the flame is very low than it will take a long time to cook the food. In the same way if the fire is too big it can burn the food. If we put a huge log on a low fire it will extinguish it. Our digestive fires should be balanced so that we can digest our meals efficiently and smoothly.
Dinner should be lighter than lunch and should ideally be eaten before 8:00 p.m. Late night meals interfere with sleep and after 10:00 p.m. the body is working to burn off toxins and continue to digest food from the day. If you eat after 10:00 p.m., the food may cause toxins to accumulate in the system, and as a result the next day you wake up tired. If you are not able to wake up fresh and clear, then it is important to analyze the quantity of food and the time of night you are eating dinner.
These times reflect the time when fruits, vegetables, and grains grow and how the solar or lunar energy of different products influence the character, and are processed in the body. The times are connected with the life force, the morning time of sun rising, the sunrise, the peak of the sun force (lunch time), the afternoon time of sun setting, the sunset and the night time of the moonlight. Those who suffer from bloating, gasses, and other inconveniences can benefit from following this approach.
Quick Review of Recommendations for Good Digestion:
Eat sitting down, in a settled environment, without the TV on.
Eat a fresh piece of ginger and lemon before a full meal or (pomegranate chutney to balance Pitta).
Drink Lassi with or after lunch.
Avoid ice cold drinks and food.
Lunch should be the biggest meal of the day.
Dinner should be lighter and eaten before 8:00 p.m.
Disclaimer: Information provided in this article is for the sole purpose of imparting education on Ayurveda and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you have a medical condition, please consult your physician.