As per Ayurveda, there are different stages in a woman’s life i.e. period before menarche, reproductive age and period after menopause. Accordingly specific diet and lifestyle regimens are advised to follow during these phases as well as proper support needs to be there so as to manage her with the changes properly. Followings are the healthy diet and lifestyle advises for women’s health:
Daily routine: Dinacharya
• Getting up early in the morning preferably before sunrise.
• Elimination of natural urges (urine and faeces)
• Brushing teeth followed by mouth gargle with 1 tsp sesame oil.
• Splashing eyes with plain water and instilling one drop of ghee in each nostril.
• Sesame oil or mustard oil application on the body in winters and coconut oil or ghee application on the body in summers, followed by bathing.
• One-hour exercise or walking or yoga daily. This helps them to have proper functioning of all the organs as well as maintain metabolism and lessen anxiety and stress.
• Instilling one drop of plain cow’s ghee in the eyes at night at bedtime.
• Take proper breakfast. Breakfast must never be skipped. Try to avoid cornflakes, bread or processed food on a daily basis.
• Lunch should be proper and better to have daily routine time for it. It is preferable to take raw salads one hour before lunch.
• Dinner should be early and light by 7-7.30 pm.
• There should be a proper routine for taking meals.
• There should be a gap of at least 2 hours between dinner and sleep.
• Staying hungry or without food for long hours like fasting should be avoided. Even long gaps between meals are also not advisable.
• Daily 3 main meals should be taken. And a healthy snack like fruits or salads or sprouts or roasted peanuts can be taken in the morning. In the evening there could be some light home made fresh snacks like fresh fruits or soups, etc.
• Munching between the meals should be avoided.
• Always freshly made warm food should be taken. Food kept overnight or refrigerated food should not be consumed.
• Food should be taken slowly and without doing any work in between. Avoid talking, watching television or using mobile while eating.
• Include sufficient ghee / oil in diet. It is best to use cow’s ghee / unrefined oil. Avoid heavy to digest oils like soybean oil.
• Include vegetable source of protein daily in diet. It can be in form of cooked lentil or lentils soaked overnight and steamed (like sprouts) or tofu.
• Milk and milk products like fresh curd, buttermilk, fresh butter should be taken daily as natural source of calcium. However curd should be taken during the day only and avoid it at night.
• To avoid iron deficiency and to maintain normal hemoglobin levels; include fresh fruits, spinach and green leafy vegetables, dates, figs, beetroot, chickpea and other lentils in daily diet.
• Water intake should be at least 1.5 – 2 liters. Water helps to flush out toxins from the body. Boiled and then filtered water should be taken at room temperature or lukewarm in small quantities throughout the day at regular intervals. In summers drink water from mud pot and avoid refrigerated water and drinks.
• Intake of milk tea and coffee should be restricted to only 2 small cups in a day. Prefer to take fresh herbal teas (Tulsi tea, Ginger tea, Cinnamon tea) daily.
• Take a cup of warm milk before going to bed. Milk can be spiced with cardamom, cloves and cinnamon.
• Take varieties of food daily having all essential nutrients like protein source (daal/beans), carbohydrates (wheat/rice), fats (ghee / oil), fruits and vegetables etc in daily diet.
• Drink a cup of cumin tea (In 1 cup of water, add 1 tsp cumin seeds and bring it to boil. Then filter and drink it like a tea) if you have bloating or gases.
• Chew fennel seeds after each meal. This helps in enhancing proper digestion and also acts as a mouth freshener.
• Seasonal fruits and vegetables are a must to be incorporated in daily dietary routine.
• Excess intake of deep fried, oily, spicy food, garam masala, fast food (pizza, burger, chips etc), white flour (maida), too much of sweet (heavy milk sweets, refined sugar) and sour things (pickles, processed food, sauces, etc) should be reduced. Home made healthy snacks can be taken.
• Day sleep should be avoided. However a nap of 15 – 20 minutes can be taken, but not immediately after lunch.
• Sleeping immediately after taking meals/food is not advisable. Go to bed early at least before 11 pm and complete 7 – 8 hours of night sleep.
The natural progression of life is like the changing of seasons. A woman goes through different phases of physical and physiological changes during her lifetime. As per Ayurveda, women should follow proper diet and lifestyle to stay healthy and for wellbeing of their psychological, emotional and spiritual levels also.
This article was written by Vaidya Mita Kotecha; Professor & HOD Dept. of Dravyaguna, National institute of Ayurveda, Jaipur.