Even if you think you know it all about the latest diets, there may be a few you’ve yet to come across.
Ayurveda is one diet that often slips through the cracks, but it can have some pretty big benefits, if you’re prepared to change your current eating habits. Unfortunately for some, that may also involve giving your night time eating habits a bit of an overhaul.
If you’re following the ayurvedic diet, you’ll need to be prepared to swap some of your favorite evening snacks for some healthier, lighter alternatives, all with the goal of keeping your doshas in balance, and enhancing your mental and physical health.
Not sure where to start? Let’s take a closer look at the ayurvedic diet, and learn more about which foods you should be cutting from your evening meal routine.
What Is The Ayurvedic Diet?
The Ayurvedic diet is a unique diet grounded in the principles of the Hindu system of medicine. This diet attempts to bring different types of energy into alignment in your body, and it’s believed that this can improve your physical and mental health.
Unlike other common diets, the ayurvedic diet offers personal recommendations on which foods you should eat (and avoid), according to your body type.
The ayurvedic diet is based on the principles of ayurveda, or the five elements that make up the fabric of the universe. These elements are vay (air), akash (space), teja (fire), jala (water), and prithvi (earth).
It’s said that these universal elements are created from different doshas in the body, each of which is responsible for managing different physiological functions in the body.
Different doshas have different purposes – for example, the vata dosha is said to help maintain the balance of electrolytes in the body, and the kapha dosha can help promote optimal function of the joints.
The ayurvedic diet aims to determine what your dominant dosha is, so you can eat specific foods that will encourage a balance between them.
Here are the three dominant doshas and what they mean:
- Vata: The vata dosha represents both air and space, and it’s said to be lively and creative. If this is your dominant dosha, you’re likely to have a thin body type, but you may often experience issues such as anxiety, tiredness, and digestive discomfort when your doshas are out of balance.
- Kapha: The kapha dosha represents earth and water, and it’s loyal and grounded. If you have a kapha dosha, you probably have a slightly thicker (or sturdier) body frame, but you may also suffer from issues such as diabetes, depression, and even asthma if your doshas are out of balance.
- Pitta: Last up, we have the pitta dosha. This dosha represents fire, and it embodies decisive, intelligent, and hard-working qualities. Individuals with this dosha will usually be of medium build, but they’re also known to have a short fuse and may suffer from high blood pressure, indigestion, and even heart disease.
What dosha you have will determine which foods are best for you. Here’s a few of the foods that are recommended to people with each dosha:
- Pitta: If you have the pitta dosha, you probably have some pretty fiery qualities. Therefore, you’ll usually be advised to eat ‘cooler’ foods such as parsley, cucumber and peppermint. You may even benefit from astringents like green tea and legumes, which are said to minimize the irritation caused by this dosha.
- Vata: By nature, those with the vata dosha are usually light, rough, and cool. They’ll be advised to consume foods that counteract these effects. These are usually foods that are ‘warm’ (in terms of both temperature and spice) such as stews, soups, and plenty of healthy fats like avocados.
- Kapha: Those with a kapha dosha may have oily, smooth, and cool qualities. They should eat foods that are warm, dry and light, and also plenty with a little added ‘roughage’, such as vegetables and beans.
What NOT To Eat At Night, According To Ayurveda
We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but don’t let this takeaway from the importance of other meals, either.
If you’re following the ayurveda diet, you’ll also need to pay close attention to what you eat at night time, too. To keep yourself in balance (both physically and mentally), avoid eating the following the foods at night:
If you’re following ayurveda, make an effort to stop consuming salt in the evening. High sodium diets are notoriously bad for our bodies, and excessive consumption can lead to some pretty nasty illnesses and diseases, including blood pressure, strokes, and even heart disease.
Eating a high-salt diet can also cause calcium loss, and can put you at risk of enlarged heart muscle, chronic headaches, and even kidney disease.
Salt is also known to increase the levels of water retention in the body, and ayurveda diets will advise you not to eat it in the evening.
However, ayurveda does still recognize the importance of salt. In moderation, salt can be a good addition to your diet, and ayurveda may even recommend it in small doses to increase agni. Just avoid eating it at nighttime.
Curd is essentially a type of fermented milk, and it can be an extremely healthy probiotic for our bodies. Sounds good, right? Well, while curd definitely has some indisputable health benefits, ayurveda recommends avoiding it at night time.
Curd is usually eaten alongside rice for an evening meal, but in ayurveda, it’s said to increase the kapha dosha. This can lead to unpleasant imbalance in our bodies which can even cause a buildup of mucus.
Avoid eating curd in the evening to keep both your mind and body in balance, and avoid any unwanted side effects.
Yes, this is a pretty broad one, but if you’re following ayurveda, you may want to consider eliminating high-carb foods from your diet at night time.
It’s tough, we know. When those evening cravings hit, sometimes all you need is a carb-loaded snack to help you power through. However, high-carb foods are not digested as easily as low-carb foods, which means they can sit a little heavier in your stomach.
This can wreak havoc with your sleep quality. If you’ve ever woken up feeling a little ‘out of it’ the day after an evening carb binge, this is why.
Ayurveda recommends avoiding high-carb foods in the evening to keep yourself in check, so the next time you’re having a craving, try opting for something a little lighter, instead. Foods like tofu, chicken or lentils can make for some tasty, filling alternatives.
Cold Or Frozen Foods
This may sound oddly specific, but ayurveda also recommends avoiding cold or frozen foods at night time, so you can kiss goodbye to those late night ice cream cravings!
Cold and frozen foods are said to increase kapha, which can give you some unwanted symptoms in the morning, including wheezing, coughing, allergies, mucus, and indigestion.
Ice cream and high-carb snacks are already off the table, and unfortunately, so is chocolate (and any other junk-like sweet treat!).
Unfortunately, chocolate and highly processed snacks contain high amounts of sugar, which aren’t good for keeping your kapha in check.
Kapha is likely to fall out of balance if you consume these foods in the evening, and you’ll probably notice it when you wake up in the morning, too.
Those unwanted symptoms like indigestion and excess tiredness may linger, and you won’t feel your best when you wake up.
What To Eat At Night (According To Ayurveda)
So, now we know what foods you SHOULDN’T be eating at night on this diet, what can you actually get away with consuming? Well, don’t worry. There’s still plenty of healthy alternatives you can add to your meals or your snacks. Let’s take a closer look below:
- Foods high in protein and low-carb (such as chicken and lentils)
- Green, leafy vegetables
- Chapatis rather than rice
- Spices such as turmeric and ginger
- Curry leaves
These are just a few of the alternatives ayurveda recommends adding to your diet at night time. Ultimately, your main aim should be to eat foods that sit ‘light in your stomach.
These foods will all help keep your doshas in balance, and there should be no sense of ‘heaviness’ in your stomach after eating.
Even if you’re not a keen follower of ayurveda, this is a great rule to follow. When we eat food at night, the energy it produces is stored in the body as fat. This can lead to weight gain, indigestion, and bloating.
If you really want to feel like you’ve woken up on the right side of the bed, eliminating these foods from your diet at night time can be a game changer.
The Bottom Line
When people first start following the ayurveda diet, it’s common to feel restricted. If you’ve been stuck in certain eating habits for a long time, it can be hard to break out of them or imagine the benefits of doing so.
However, following the guidelines established in ayurveda can help you feel refreshed, replenished, and ready to face the day, all while keeping your mind and body in balance.
As most of the foods on this list are also high-fat, high-carb, and high-sugar, you may even notice weight loss, less indigestion, and an improved mood. It’s a win-win, and your body will thank you for it!