When we got to nutrition in the Ayurveda curriculum we learned the importance of feeding your tastebuds and your digestion at every meal with 6 tastes.
I was never sure what this meant until I actively tried to do it. First step is to understand what it means. For example accomplished with foods, herbs and spices.
Next step is to actually do it. Easier than you think, and I have seen that it does make for better digestion and more energy, not to mention more focused attention on how a meal is put together. All good.
What are those 6 tastes and how to get them?
The first 3 build tissue (anabolic) while the last three relate to metabolism and assimilation (catabolic).
Our western diets have plenty of tissue building components and are deficient in the last 3 which may explain weight gain and other serious health issues.
SWEET: Fruits, grains, rice, milk and some vegetables. These are rich in earth and water elements and can be grounding, pacifying to the nervous system and cooling. (note: this taste excludes processed sugars, corn syrups etc and is not an excuse for doughnuts!)
SOUR: Lemons, limes, vinegar, dill pickles, fermented foods like yogurt, kimchee. These relate to earth and fire elements, stimulate digestion, probiotics, cleanse tissues and bring clarity.
SALTY: Salt is precious and salt is great (read more) – in moderation of course. Said to be based in the fire and water elements, salt is vital to digestion and to maintain proper hydration and electrolytes, combats muscle cramps.
PUNGENT: Chilies, peppers, garlic, cloves, ginger, mustard fire up the digestion and composed of elements of fire and air.
BITTER: Leafy greens, green and yellow vegetables, kale, celery, broccoli, sprouts, beets. These are purifying and detoxifying and composed of air and ether elements.
ASTRINGENT: Lentils, dried beans, cauliflower, pomegranates, cranberries, green tea. This taste soaks up the fats and combats water imbalances.
You can also start to see some patterns and relationships between food and how you are feeling: take the green juice and raw diet concepts:
You may want to steer clear of green juices and too much raw veg dieting if you are feeling flighty and anxious, dry and ungrounded. I am, for example, way too vata to juice or go raw for long.
The only time it works for me, for example, is after a long, more sedentary winter when I am sluggish, heavy and clogged then plenty of bitter and astringent juices etc may be just the ticket. (notice that these leafy greens are precisely what is sprouting up first this time of year and eating for the seasons is always a good idea!)
And one more thing: