Ayurvedic Nutrition and Diet - Student Blog

Western nutrition and Ayurvedic nutrition have definite differences about how people nourish themselves. Western nutrition concerns itself with the amount of calories, amount of macronutrients, carbs, proteins and fats, and micronutrients, vitamin and mineral content, and an ingredient list. Of course, western people are obsessed with being thin, so of course, calories is the first thing listed on western food labels.

Calories do not exist in Ayurvedic nutrition. Another Western nutrition concept is the food pyramid. Mrs. Obama recently reorganized the traditional food pyramid with Choose My Plate, a visual learning tool to incorporate what foods to eat in what proportion. In Ayurvedic nutrition, the amount of food needed for each meal is one anjali, prayer pose hands, opened to form a little bowl or cup, definitely unique to the individual.

An interesting side note on Western food labels is that the ingredient list is last and often in the smallest print possible on. In western nutrition, 45-65% of calories should be carbohydrates, 10-35% of calories should be proteins, and fats should be a small portion. For me, this is a very big bunch of math that I have to figure out on a calculator and would take away from the enjoyment of the food. In Ayurvedic nutrition, a “basic rule is simple, to give the body all six rasas each day so that it can respond to feed completely.” (www.wecare2.com,”Ayurvedic Nutrition”, Deepak Chopra, M.D.) Dr. Bhatia has said in a lecture,” In Ayurveda, we are what we digest.” Conversely, in Western nutrition, the saying is,” You are what you eat.”

In Ayurvedic nutrition, the goal of food is to achieve balance in the dosha, dhatu, agni and mala. To quote from our lecture, ”Food is the medicine and the healer. Food connects you with the divine.” Deepak Chopra M.D. says,” For the most part, western nutrition comes out of the laboratory. Ayurvedic nutrition comes directly from nature.” Paraphrasing Dr. Chopra, ‘food talks to your doshas,’it is correct to say that food has an energetic influence on the person consuming it. The preparation, intention and mood with which food is prepared and eaten also infuse food with subtle qualities. Ayurvedic nutrition acknowledges Prana, and promotes one to mindfully, with full attention, eat fresh food with Prana - organic, local grown, without genetic modification, herbicides or pesticides is best.

Ayurveda considers eating as a ritual, nourishing body, mind and soul. For that matter, life and living is a ritual in Ayurveda. Fresh food that is well prepared and eaten in a calm environment equals OJAS. Ghee, honey, dates, figs, and mung beans are foods that have ojas. Ojas is the juice of life, it is the elixir of immunity and results in perfect digestion and elimination, while also influencing the physical, mental and emotional life of a person.

High ojas can allow us to have a better life experience in every realm. In Ayurvedic nutrition, we use the six rasas, tastes, for the balance of agni, doshas, and dhatus. Rasas are panchamahabhutic and affect the doshas in our bodies when we eat. Every rasa has a virya, a potency, either Shita, cooling, or Ushna, heating. Rasas also have a post digestive effect, Vipaka, which comes after the Pitta stage of digestion, beginning in the small intestine, the Vata stage of digestion.

There are three Vipakas: Sweet, Madhura Vipaka, coming from sweet and salty rasas, Sour, Amla Vipaka, coming from sour tastes, and Pungent, Katu Vipaka, coming from bitter, pungent and astringent rasas. The Vipakas are how the dhatus experience digested rasa.

There is also a post digestive action or what the rasa does to the dhatus, called Prabhava. The Prabhava can be changed according to the preparation; sauté, steam, or fresh, the addition of spices and herbs, and types of oil, and water used while cooking. If a person is sama, balanced, all six rasa in balance will help the body maintain its equilibrium. If a person is imbalanced, the rasas can be eaten in a way to bring the body back to balance and allow ojas to increase bringing immunity and healing to the tissues. Ayurvedic nutrition can maintain balance and bring balance to every person's dosha, dhatu, agni and mala in a way unique to that person's composition.

Western nutrition has complex mathematical formulations focused on calories, proteins, carbohydrates, micronutrients and fats to make sure we get correct portions for health and wellness, without actually taking into account that our body responds, or reacts, to the food and how the tissues can change according to the properties of the foods.

It seems to me that most Westerners eat for the goal, for many, that is to just be thin. There may be a thin looking woman, ideal in the west, who is pale with brittle hair and nails, who may rely on using make up and hair products for the look of sara rasa, sara mamsa, and sara asthi. Ayurvedic nutrition teaches us how to eat in a more substantial way: what is the food doing, how is our body going to respond to the food, how can we eat for the tissues to have a positive response, to be nourished, to bring happiness. When we are sama, balanced, in all ways, then happiness comes, the body is happy, the mind is happy, the soul is peaceful, happy to be in that body, in that mind, to dwell in that place. Sama brings Sattva. Sattva brings sama.


A challenge in teaching clients that only know of Western nutrition will be teaching them and having them trust that with good food combinations, we can attain our recommended daily allowance of protein without eating meat.

Another personal challenge for me may be in giving a client too much information too soon, thus, overwhelming them with information. I want to share everything! A good thing for me will be to first talk about balancing the one person, the foods to eat and how to cook them, then, after a time, find out what protocols are working for them. When the person achieves better balance, share with them the six rasas, how each meal can have all rasas, and what each rasa does. If I give too much information, it may overwhelm the client like the Western math formula overwhelms me. Sometimes I get overwhelmed in the class and have to go back later and study notes and books and online. A client may not do that. They want “Ayurveda Easy,” until they are ready for more. That is what I would like to give so that they can begin a journey to a healthy, happy, balanced life. I’m on this journey and would like to share it successfully with others.

Danae Delaney - AWP Block 2 Student
Massage Therapist, Colon Hydrotherapist