In my early days of pioneering what “healthy” eating meant to me, achieving a “happy plate” was a badge of honor. It meant I’d eaten my pasta as well as my Brussels sprouts and peas, and my parents always rewarded me with dessert. The thing is though, sometimes polishing off a plate of food—no matter how delicious—leaves your stomach grumbling for more. That’s where the medicine of Ayurveda comes in. According to the ancient practice, meals that include all six “rasas,” or tastes, make for the most satiating extravaganzas.
According to The Chopra Center, each flavor is associated with a combination of elements (for example, earth and water). Each one contributes to your body’s overall sense of balance, so when your breakfast/lunch/dinner contains a little somethin’, somethin’ of each, you satisfy your most basic appetites. You’ve likely sampled all six tastes before. Let’s break them down.
The 6 tastes to make food more filling
This taste is like home for your taste buds, but it should be consumed in moderation. Its Ayurvedic benefits include longevity and strength.
Elements: water and earth
Examples: wheat, dairy, dates, maple syrup, licorice root
To tap into your emotions and stimulate your digestion, sour can’t be beat.
Elements: water and fire
Examples: lemon, vinegar, fermented foods, wine
This taste stimulates digestion, replenishes electrolytes, and helps your body absorb minerals, according to Ayurveda.
Elements: earth and fire
Examples: sea salt, black olives, processed foods, seaweed
No other rasa brings your body to attention quite like this taste, which clear sinuses and heightens the senses.
Elements: fire and air
Examples: hot peppers, garlic, mustard, hot spices
These foods detoxify the body and open your mind up to clearer thinking.
Elements: air and space
Examples: raw vegetables, turmeric, herbal teas
Like bitter foods, the astringent taste sharpens your mind.
Elements: air and earth
Examples: green grapes, pomegranates, cranberries, okra
At the most basic level, adding a serving of each of these rasas to every meal offers a buffet of pleasure. However, if you want to dig into the details, you’ll first want to discover your dosha. (Take this quiz!) Once you know if you’re vata (wind), pitta (fire), or kapha (earth), you can seek out opposite foods to balance out your composition. Pittas and their fiery compositions can focus on eating sweet, bitter, and astringent eats, for example, while kaphas may want to go for sour, pungent, and bitter.
If you get confused, just remember this: Ayurvedic eating is all about leveling out the elements already living inside of you. You decide the “happy plate” that will get you there.
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