Food and thought

PUBLISHED : Monday, 11 October, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 11 October, 2004, 12:00am

Ayurveda states that the different universal elements - vata, pitta and kapha - are strong at different times of the day, so not only do we need to eat foods corresponding to our doshas, but we also need to eat at suitable times.

Vata runs from 2am-6am and again from 2pm-6pm. Pitta starts at 10am to 2pm and again from 10pm to 2am, while 6am to 10am is the kapha period and again from 6pm to 10pm.

Digestion works best during the pitta period, which doesn't coincide with lunch time, as most people tend to take lunch about 1pm to 2pm. The vata period starts after 2pm, which is why people start to feel tired, lethargic, and bloated. Imbalance of vata dosha will also affect the blood circulation - hence one should avoid dry foods such as rice, beans, lentils, salad and uncooked food during lunch time.

As we tend to have dinner during the kapha period between 6pm-10pm, we should also eat some pitta food to aid digestion. Spices should be chosen according to constitution to accelerate digestion, otherwise food won't be digested well and will cause restlessness.

Yoga can help digestion. Although yoga should normally not be done within three hours of eating, the vajrasana posture is good for digestion and can be done immediately after food.

For pacifying vata dosha, the person should avoid the dry foods mentioned previously and add more dairy products such as milk, butter and fresh cheese, but not preserved cheese.

Pitta people should avoid pungent food because it heats the body. They should stay away from chilli, preserved cheese and sour foods, which cause aggravation of pitta dosha (with the exception of lime and gooseberry, which have an alkaline effect).

Kapha people should avoid sweet and oily foods. They should eat more lentils, beans, and pungent food. But before selecting food according to their constitution, people should also consider the taste of food. There are six different tastes: sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter and astringent.

Vata people should avoid astringent food such as pomegranates, cabbages, cloves, cinnamon, and broccoli and bitter foods. Pitta constitutions shouldn't eat pungent and sour foods, and sweet and salty foods should be avoided by kapha people.