Do you want to fell completely well from head to toe in the new year? Are you planning new year’s resolutions that involve a change in diet or exercise? Then you should read this article about how ayurveda can help you feel well and balanced. Your diet is crucial in your overall health and stamina. Learn about ayurveda below and decide if it is right for you in 2018.
Ayurveda: what it is and how it can help balance your mind, body and spirit
Celeb-favoured fads usually involve all manner of bonkers rituals, but there are plenty of intuitive Ayurveda-derived practices that you’ve probably already adopted without realising it – like breathing exercises, yoga and drinking herbal teas. Now the wellness set are looking at how Ayurveda treats food, which happily resonates with our obsession to maintain a certain degree of sanity in an ever chaotic and stressful world.
So what exactly are the mechanics? Ostensibly, the diet is tailored to your specific body type, or “dosha”. There are three in total, “vata” are tall and slender with creative and excitable personalities, “pitta” are fair strong and study, while “kapha” are loving and gentle.
A mental disruption to the equilibrium can manifest in unpleasant physical symptoms. For example, if kapha is imbalanced, it can lead to skin breakouts and digestion problems. The idea is you keep the see-saw from swinging by eating foods that oppose your dominant dosha.
Jasmine Hemsley, one half of cheffing duo Hemsley + Hemsley, is a vocal champion of Ayurveda’s healing benefits and has just struck out on her own with her first cookbook on the method, East Meets West (£25, published by Bluebird). The book is filled with adaptable recipes that can be tweaked to keep each dosha harmonious.
“It’s basically the food equivalent of, ‘if you’re feeling hot, take off your jumper, or if you’re feeling cold, put it back on,'” Jasmine tells me. She first stumbled across the method through her yoga practice, but says she soon began to notice how eating slowly and mindfully (which is a large part of Ayurvedic eating) improved her digestion.
So what other benefits can you expect? “Better balance all round – mentally, spiritually, emotionally and physically,” Jasmine says. “Getting to understand yourself as a seasonal creature can help you to customise your diet for day-to-day balance.”
As well as helping keep the mind and body on good terms, converts claim the method can boost energy levels, improve mood, fight blemishes and even ward off winter flu.
Perhaps most encouragingly of all, it’s not a January diet that will leave you utterly miserable. Warm and comforting recipes include Kitchari – a creamy rice of lentils – teff waffles with turmeric, honey and lamb hotpot with pink peppercorn. “Ayurvedic doesn’t mean Indian food – it’s not as hot and spicy – it’s much more mellow,” says Jasmine. “It’s the opposite of deprivation and all about enjoying and savouring comforting food.”
While its not designed for weight loss (devotees will tell you it’s all about maintaining the balance of energy in your body) commiting to eating healthy and balanced meals after a season of roast dinners and booze is sure to work in your favour.
Brands are starting to get the buzz too. London-based drinks company Botanic Lab deal in Ayurvedic alchemy – creating cold pressed juices and tonics with ashwagandha and turmeric, which are two adaptogenic herbs at the core of the diet’s stress-busting philosophy.
Organic beauty brand Urban Veda have also tailored a range of face oils to match your dosha. They’ll help you fill out a personality profile before nailing the perfect person-to-potion combo.
“With more and more people waking up to the fact that mind and body are inextricably connected, Ayurveda feels like a good fit for people seeking ways to manage modern living and its associated stresses,” says Botanic Lab creator Rebekah Hall.
“From a dietary perspective, we’re more aware than ever that highly processed foods are having an adverse impact on wellbeing and that diets containing whole foods and plant ingredients are beneficial.”
Should it come as a surprise that physical wellness shouldn’t involve starving yourself into misery at the start of the year? Probably not. Either way, January might not be so grim after all.