Balance the Six Tastes
Ok! We’ve talked about the six tastes, what they are and how each taste affects the body. It makes logical sense that we need to incorporate each of the tastes into our diet to maintain complete balance. Ayurveda says you should have all six tastes in each meal for proper digestion and to nourish and satisfy the mind (remembering mind rules body). Remembering to incorporate six tastes in each meal can sound a little daunting, I know. But if you just think about a meal where you have properly spiced carbs, proteins, veggies, and fruits you will GET all the tastes! It’s all in logical balance right?! Not too hard.
Eating all six tastes can balance our bodies, reduce cravings, and help in weight loss—without counting calories (Ayurveda does not have calories), restricting carbs, or working out like a maniac. Unfortunately in our Western world, our diet consists mostly of sweet, salty, and sour tastes. Unless we pay attention, it is easy to miss out on the pungent, bitter and astringent tastes. When these tastes are in disproportion, the mind focuses more on our emotions and we lose balance and harmony often times leaving us craving for something “more.” This is easily one of the causes of overeating and/or emotional eating in our society.
Example. Let’s say a kapha person has too much salt, sour and sweet tastes in their diet. Maybe they have several meals consisting of pasta with sauce or mac n’ cheese or pizza or peanut butter sandwiches. You get my drift. Oh, and maybe they snack on pretzels. They might retain some water because of the salt and they have some weight gain because of the sweet taste (aka carbs). Over time, the imbalance gets a little more severe and they grow lethargic (too much sweet) and might start to get crabby or greedy (salt does that). Over more time they could end up overweight with hypertension. Ta-da! Imbalance. Not hard to imagine, right?
While there are no “bad” foods in Ayurveda, there is a balance to maintain. This person above has an overabundance of sweet, sour and salty tastes and they are completely lacking the others. So, what if this person ate a salad along with their pizza to bring in some of the leafy bitter greens and astringent vinagrette dressing? In addition, what if they had some pungent spices in that salad or sprinkled on the pizza? When we think about it, it makes sense however most of us are busy thinking about carbs, calories and proteins rather than what we are tasting. Ayurveda offers another way to look at, er, taste things.
So, ya’ll might be thinking, “Ok fine but I have no idea where to start.” The spice combos below are a good start. If you already know your dosha, you can follow one of the recipes below and sprinkle in your food! I have a mix that I sprinkle (about 1 tsp) on my rice, on pasta with ghee (mm!), cooked veggies, soups, salad etc., You can sprinkle them on anything and they are an easy way to get your fill of the 6 tastes!
Vata Six Taste Spice Mix: 3 parts fennel, 1 part turmeric, 1 part cumin, 1 part dried ginger, 1 part black pepper, 1 part cardamom, 1 part salt, 1 part turbinado sugar, 1 part fenugreek, 1 part dried mango powder (all powdered)
Pitta Six Taste Spice Mix: 6 parts fennel, 2 parts coriander, 2 parts cumin, 1 part turmeric, 1 part salt, 1 part turbinado sugar, 1 part dried mango powder (all powdered)
Kapha Six Taste Spice Mix: 2 parts dried ginger, 2 parts black pepper, 2 parts turmeric, 1 part coriander, 1 part cumin, 1 part sweet paprika, 1 part salt, 1 part rock sugar, 1 part dried mango powder (all powdered)
!!! The spice mixes are from Ayurbalance.com