Have you ever eaten your way to the bottom of a bag of salt and vinegar potato chips only to find yourself feeling unsatisfied? Have you ever dug into to a pint of Ben and Jerry’s, only to find yourself still craving something that’s missing?
Welcome to the American diet. In our country, we attempt to use food, especially sweet and salty food, for comfort, yet find true satisfaction lacking. Ayurveda, the “Science of Life,” tells us that salt and sugar are only two of the six tastes the body needs to maintain optimum health and feel truly satisfied after meals.
Ayurveda holds that there are six tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent. For optimum health, we need to taste them all, everyday. Each one has a specific energetic effect on the body. They can warm us up or cool us down. They can make us feel complacent or motivated. Taken together, the six tastes can lead body and mind into perfect balance and create a sense of real satisfaction.
Sweet and salty may work well to instantly allay the anxiety (excess vata) that comes with 24/7 multitasking. But eating only these tastes — and in poor quality, to boot — has dire consequences for physical and mental health.
Mixing It Up
Getting all six tastes doesn’t mean creating equality in volume: a little salt goes a long way. Nor does it mean having a six-course meal at every sitting. “Keep it simple,” recommends Patti Garland, a master Ayurvedic chef and owner of Bliss Kitchen in Palm Desert, California. “Eat leafy green vegetables every day, and drink a lassi. Play around with spices — turmeric, cumin, coriander and fennel will expand your palate instantly. Add quick-cooking lentils, split mung beans or red lentils to your diet. Have a whole grain. Put it all together in a bowl, or serve it in individual dishes in one sitting or over the course of a day. Try to have your big meal at lunch, when digestion is strongest.”
And whatever you’re eating, pay attention. If you’re craving a food, ask yourself what it is you really want. Craving can come out of habit, or it can be telling you about something your body needs — which may not be food. You could really be craving love and connection.
Once you find a bit of balance, your own intuition will guide you to the right choices. Ayurveda is about conscious eating and true satisfaction.
Stress and Craving: