How to Choose Food
The rule of thumb in Ayurveda is: any diet is supposed to promote self-development. If our food choices improve our concentration on the positive, and make us open and friendly they are good for us. Food that makes our mind dull, negative, and aggressive is certainly to be avoided. But even products that are generally good don’t automatically promote our physical and emotional health.
Time, place, and circumstances are three factors that can turn a good effect into a bad one.
Time is the most powerful force in the material world, which rewards the respectful and punishes the others. For example, grains and beans eaten at lunch time provide us with strength and endurance for the rest of the day. But as soon as the sun starts the way down the sky, we lose the ability to digest grains and beans properly. Eaten in the afternoon, they build up toxins that sooner or later cause a disease. Steamed vegetables on the contrary are nourishing but not too heavy in the afternoon; they promote peace of mind and good night’s sleep. See also: Time-the most powerful force in the material world; What it means to eat fresh.
Place in Vedic sense means not only the particular city or country on Earth where we live right now, but also the body type our soul is embodied in that particular life cycle. We live on our planetary system for innumerous lives; and human body type is rare to achieve. One, who has managed to get this type of embodiment should not waste time only on four main necessities of material life: food, defense, sleep, and sex. All of these needs are present in animal world as well.
Vedanta-sutra – the essence of the Vedic knowledge – starts with the following: “Now one should inquire about The Absolute Truth”. Only humans can distinguish not only between pleasant and unpleasant for my body, but also between good or bad for my spirit.
Relatively to food one should realize that although animal flesh might suit our gross body, it undoubtedly harms our subtle body and specifically our intellect (ability to make choices, that lead to pure life). The law of energy conservation works in non-material world as well. When eating a product of violence we certainly invite violence in our own life in the forms of anger, depression, and quarrels.
Circumstances in our context mean specific of our mind-body constitution ( Vata, Pitta, or Kapha type and their combinations); as well as our age and climate or season of the year we live in. Every circumstance needs to be taken into account when making all choices including food. Warming oils like Sesame oil, for instance, are perfect for cold dry Vata type, but will overheat the fiery Pitta. There are plenty of articles on that topic here on the web site in the category Lifestyle. See for example The Food list for Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
TODAY’S TIP: Ayurveda seeks to advise all of us on most healthy life as possible no matter which guna of material world prevails in our life (goodness, passion or ignorance). That is the only reason meat is categorized in food lists between the three doshas and recommendations are given what kind of meat to eat if one still eats meat (See also: Vegan eating in A-da; Myth about Vegetarianism and Anemia).