When it comes to figuring out what food she and her clients should eat, one local nutritionist says that it’s tough to beat something that’s been around for a few thousand years.
The knowledge for long life and the science for self-healing are the philosophies behind the system of ancient nutrition and medicine called Ayurveda, explains Becca Pati of Divine Health in Riel Park. She says that whereas fad diets espouse the belief that everybody should derive the same benefits from the same foods, that is far from the case with Ayurveda.
“It is extremely specific to body and mind type,” Pati states, qualifying it further by saying that it’s not so much a diet but a sustainable lifestyle. “Whenever we think ‘diet,’ we think we’re changing something and we’re taking other (things) out. In fact, Ayurveda has broadened my diet tremendously.”
Ayurvedic principles state that every physical, emotional, mental and spiritual aspect of a person’s life plays a significant role in that person’s overall health. The trick is to maintain a balance of all of those elements by thinking holistically – that is, thinking of the whole person.
The first step towards following Ayurvedic practice is to understand the three different doshas. A dosha is a person’s body constitution, basically a combination of your physiology and your personality as related to the elements of air, fire and earth/water: vata, pitta and kapha. Pati calls them “body-mind types” because of how the physical self and the mental self are interrelated.
“There is no distinction between mind and body. It’s all the same. When you heal your body, you heal your mind.”
As a certified Ayurvedic wellness counsellor, she says that understanding a person’s dosha is the first step toward knowing her clients better and knowing which foods make the most sense for each of them. It involves answering a series of questions about the food they eat and how it affects them. This can take some time, she admits, and some people end up being between two doshas. A ‘tri-dosha’ person is possible but rare.
Afterward, she can guide them toward making more appropriate food choices. She insists that Ayurveda doesn’t restrict anything and that balance means getting to indulge in sweets and treats as each person sees fit.
Apart from that, the match between a person’s dosha and their diet is based on common sense.
“If you eat a food, you feel good … great! If you eat a food and it doesn’t feel good for you … probably take it out of your diet or minimize it. Regardless of what constitution you are, if we just took a little bit of time to listen to how we felt after we ate, then we would start to notice trends in our bodies.”
Apart from that, she adds that the other benefits of Ayurveda are that it encourages eating organic foods and eating foods that come from local growers. Since each person will derive more benefits from these foods, they will also need nutritional supplements less as well.