Australian writer and yoga instructor Jody Vassallo uses the traditional Indian healing system of Ayurveda in her diet and it’s the inspiration behind her new cookbook, The Yogic Kitchen.
So what is an Ayurvedic diet? The Ayurvedic diet is based on the ancient Indian tradition of Ayurveda. Practitioners believe that everyone fits into one of three personality types or doshas called Pitta, Kapha and Vata, and that you should adopt eating habits that match your dosha.
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Ayurvedic diets encourage you to eat more whole foods and cut down on processed foods, but there are no conclusive studies to say that it’s better for you than any other diet. It’s a good idea to speak to a qualified health professional before making any radical changes to your eating habits.
Jody believes that following has had benefits for her and it works well with her yoga practice, which also has its roots in India.
“Ayurveda encourages you to appreciate and accept yourself, your food and your environment more,” she says. “It asks that you become aware of who you are, how you are feeling and how that relates to what is happening in the world around you. I appreciate nature more and have so much respect for the impact the weather can have on my state of being.”
She adopted an Ayurvedic diet when she was experiencing heat issues during her perimenopause and says that it helped to ease her symptoms. She made the decision to become pescatarian: “Because red meat is heating I decided it would be better to break up with it, I also reduced amount of hard cheese I ate too as they weren’t helping either.”
Eating an Ayurvedic diet has also encouraged her to eat more seasonally. “My diet and yoga practice work together to compliment the season and the weather outside,” she explains.
“So if it is a cold windy day I will do a much more Vata balancing routine and my food for that day will also be Vata pacifying, soups, roasted vegetables salads and warming ginger and chai teas.
“On hotter days my yoga practice will be more cooling, slower and more nurturing and my meals that day will include salads with lots of fresh herbs, maybe a juice or smoothie or some flavoured fruit waters whereas on a damp rainy Kapha-style day my practice will be a bit more energising and the food will include some spicier foods that help to ignite my digestive fire.”
Jody has now embraced a slower pace of life too, which is reflected in both her diet and her yoga practice. She used to practice hot yoga, but now prefers the more gentle yin yoga.
“I live a much slower, quieter calmer life now. I know it is not in my best interest to go surfing in the hottest part of the day in summer. I avoid getting overheated at yoga as this aggravates my constitution and then this impacts on everything, I used to practice hot yoga and now I am a total yin yoga convert.
“My ‘Pitta personality’ loved the intensity of that style of yoga but it just lead to an imbalance in my body – I started getting skin rashes, headaches and having sleep issues and that is when I knew it was time to make a change. Our bodies will tell us when they don’t like what we are doing it is just a matter of no letting our egos over ride what they are hearing and seeing,” she adds.
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This slower, more mindful approach to life is also reflected in Jody’s attitude to sourcing ingredients. Where possible, she tries to use local and seasonal produce in her cooking.
“I try to only to eat fresh fruit and vegetables from my garden or that I buy either from the produce stall at the end of my road, from my neighbour’s garden or from our weekend market. I eat my own chooks’ eggs when they are laying and when they are not I stop. This way I know exactly what is in season and what is available and growing locally.”
Of course, this isn’t always possible and Jody says we shouldn’t judge ourselves when we’re unable to stick to this rigidly: “Sometimes when I am away from home this doesn’t work and that is OK, I think it important that people don’t let food and where it comes from become a source of stress for them. As long as they are trying their best.
“We can’t all be eating local, organic, home grown food and it can be just as nourishing to sit down to a meal with loved ones as it is to be eating your organic dinner. People need to remember nourishment is as important as nutrients and it comes in many different forms.”
Read on to find three breakfast recipes from Jody’s new cookbook, The Yogic Kitchen.
Try three breakfast recipes inspired by Ayurveda
This delicious breakfast recipe is designed for those who follow a Pitta diet.
This hearty breakfast is intended for those who follow a Kapha diet.
This tasty recipe makes a lovely breakfast for Vatas (or anyone with a sweet tooth).
This recipe comes from The Yogic Kitchen by Jody Vassallo, published by HQ (£16.99), which goes on sale on 2 May 2019.