Liveliness, strength, energy and vitality are the essence of joie de vivre.

That morsel on the end of your fork is what brings (or doesn’t bring) vitality and joie de vivre to you. In other words, food absolutely does affect mood.

All too often we discount the role that diet plays in mental health. Who hasn’t reached for a cookie when they have felt blue? Does that cookie “work”?

Actually it does, for a little while anyway. Carbohydrates like breads, cookies, and cakes contain the biochemical building blocks that our body needs to make brain chemicals such as serotonin. It’s really not a surprise that these treats boost our mood and pacify negative emotions.

Mental energy, on the other hand, gets its boost from the amino acids in proteins. Meats, eggs, and beans bolster our mental energy because the body uses these foods to manufacture activating neurotransmitters such as dopamine.

Frequently we partake of different foods based on a desire for an immediate effect. Seldom do we think about this in any depth. Unfortunately the food we quickly grab is often not the food that is best for our mind-body. Eating habits can force vitality to wax and wane or they can enhance energy and bring increased joie de vivre to the physiology.

Since depression is indicative that the mind, body, and spirit is depleted of energy nutrition is considered to be an Ayurvedic anti-depression strategy.

Changing eating habits and bringing fresh food to the body is often a cure for sadness.

Nourishing Rites

Frequently diet books become best sellers. Books about the latest food fad or the latest diet are rapidly snatched up. These books don’t usually take into account the fact that not everyone will benefit from one specific diet. Any of the popular diets will be good for some people, ok for others, and not at all helpful for still others. Books suggesting specific diets don’t take the uniqueness of individual imbalances into consideration.

Ayurveda looks at food in a different way from many of the available diet books because it never fosters a one-size-fits-all attitude. Different people will have different imbalances and will, therefore, benefit from different foods. Our food choices should be unique for each of us. Building awareness is pivotal for making good choices in all areas of life, food included.

However, the primary concern of Ayurveda is that the foods we eat bring vitality to us. The purpose of food, according to Ayurveda, is to nourish and to bring energy to body, mind and spirit. Ayurveda suggest that the food we eat should carry positive energy from the natural world. Food should bring life to us. The foods we eat must carry vitality. There is a lot more to food than chemical building blocks.

Ayurveda encourages us to think of food as packets of information, couriers of universal intelligence and transporters of life-sustaining prana. (When consciousness meets food, life tastes good!)

The only dietary rule that applies to everyone, the only rule that is one-size-fits-all, is that food should always be fresh and freshly prepared. Leftovers, packaged food, processed food—these are all no no’s. These things aren’t really food—they are synthetics made to look like food. Good taste might be there but processed food and leftovers don’t bring life to our bodies. It’s the energy in the food that matters. Even a few hours in the refrigerator diminishes the vitality in the food. The molecules of food are incorporated into our physical body so it is important that the food be both fresh and organic.

Ayurveda teaches that fresh and wholesome food brings wisdom and nourishment to us. Our body incorporates this wisdom and becomes infused with the liveliness of the food. Good food becomes us. It’s the life in the food that matters; the energy in the food becomes matter. We are what we eat, literally.

In my next post, I’ll share more specific tips for eating right, the Ayurvedic Way.

Thanks for reading,

Nancy Liebler_Ayurveda_Food_1E