Most of us like going out to eat.
Having the option to just sit and be served, and not having to wash the dishes, is a phenomenal break to our routine.
However, when we follow an Ayurvedic lifestyle, we might find that eating healthy at restaurants is a real challenge.
These tips will give you the information you need to turn your meal out as Ayurvedic and dosha-friendly as possible.
Ayurveda and Modern Life
Ayurveda teaches us that everything we do matters.
The foods we eat.
The intensity and frequency of the workouts we do.
The type of relationships we have in our lives.
Ayurvedic principles can also be very strict. Freshly cooked, home-made meals can certainly be a challenge to incorporate into our hectic lifestyles. Lack of time, long commuting, demanding jobs, and high-stress levels…all incline us to choose the quickest, easiest, cheapest and many times unhealthiest option.
We are human, after all.
After a long day at work, we probably don’t want to be in the kitchen.
We might have a date on Saturday or a birthday party.
Or we just want to eat out at our favorite restaurant.
Although one of the most important Ayurvedic concepts is to cook our food, the good news is ancient wisdom can still be applied to your everyday life. We can have fun at a nice restaurant and not feel like we are cheating on our Ayurvedic principles.
Watch this video
In this video, I discuss the tips on how to order in a restaurant and stay healthy.
Hardcore Vs. Light
I’d like to make here the distinction between what I call hardcore Ayurveda and light Ayurveda. Hardcore is when you cook your meals taking into account your dosha, the season, and the gunas or the qualities of food. This is the time when you are fully absorbed in healing your body and following your routine.
This is the 85 to 90 percent of my life.
When I cook and live my life as Ayurvedically as possible.
The light version is when I occasionally eat out — once or twice a week — or go on vacation. And even though I am being a little more flexible with my diet and routine, I still use Ayurveda to guide me to choose the most suitable meals for my body type and state of digestion.
The Simple Rules
These are the easy-to-follow rules.
Understand your dosha (Vata, Pitta, or Kapha)
This is the most important principle, as it can indicate what your body lacks and the qualities that need to be reduced. Learn as much as you can about your dosha!
For example, if you are feeling Pitta aggravated — hot, sharp, oily — simple guidelines can help you determine that it might be better to skip spicy Mexican food or fried chicken.
When you eat out, have your dosha in the back of your mind to take the best decisions.
Like increases Like
Just as our bodies, foods have specific gunas or qualities.
When we follow this principle, we eat foods that pacify our dosha and help us reduce the aggravated attributes in our body.
This creates balance.
For example, if you are Vata aggravated and experiencing signs of dry skin, constipation, and insomnia — all characterized by the dry, light, and cold characteristics — it is best to stay away from foods that share the same gunas, such as popcorn, raw vegetables, and cold drinks.
What might seem like a good food combination can actually be hurtful for your digestion, and even cause serious health issues in the long-run, if not corrected.
Combining eggs with fruit, something very common in restaurants, or fish and beans should be completely avoided.
- Don’t go hungry — Try not to go out hungry, as it can lead to poor choices and overindulgence. Have a quick bite like a fruit if you are Pitta dosha, cooked veggies with hummus if you are Kapha, or some vegan yogurt with walnuts if you are Vata. Don’t show up starving!
- Have a healthy appetizer — To let your brain know that there is food in the stomach and not make unhealthy menu choices.
- Brunch, lunch or early dinner — Your digestive fire is stronger earlier in the afternoon, before the sun sets. To make it easier for your body to digest restaurant food, eat as early as possible.
- Check the menu in advance — That way you will be prepared on what dish to order and what modifications to ask for to make it more suitable for your dosha.
- Order hot water with lemon or a cup of ginger tea — To optimize your digestive fire. Don’t drink the ice water that they always serve you at restaurants. That will kill your digestion.
- Skip the bread and butter — It will ruin your appetite and probably skin too.
- Sides — Avoid french fries (they are usually frozen and processed) and choose instead cooked vegetables with the sauce on the side. Pitta individuals can have raw salads.
- Chew well — Take your time enjoying the nice meal in front of you. Absorb it with all your senses. Chew it well.
- Be mindful — Avoid polemic topics during the meal and be present. No phone, please.
- Wine?— Studies show that people eat more when they are drinking a beverage besides water. Similarly, alcohol gives you empty calories, not a good idea if you are trying to reduce body fat. But, if you want to have a small glass of wine (2 to 4 oz) check this Ayurvedic wine guide to take the best decision for your dosha.
Finally, avoid perfectionism and release any sense of regret.
Those feelings might actually be more damaging to your body than a big, fatty burger.
Moreover, remember to go back to your Ayurvedic plan as soon as you get home.
Take your triphala and don’t have breakfast the next day until you eliminate.
Keep in mind that although eating out will not be as perfect as you cooking your own food, you deserve to have fun and enjoy your meal.
Every bite of it 🙂