Ayurvedic Diet

Ayurvedic Diet & Digestion Made Easy

Symptoms | Diet | Diet | Pizza
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Pizza Ayurvedic Perspectives


(4.50 out of 5 stars) 2 reviews
Written by John Immel, Asheville, NC
Let's face it: Pizza happens. Growing up, one of my favorite memories was when my dad would take my sisters and I to Brother's Four Pizzeria. We would have so much fun picking out toppings, watching the cheese become stringy as we pulled up a slice, and outdoing one another with the most red pepper flakes sprinkled on top. But by the end of meal, we would all sink into the happy food coma of pizza bliss.

Now that I have two daughters of my own, I take them out for a special treat to Blue Mountain Pizza, a local favorite, and enjoy the daily live music while the kids wolf down the grub. I know that, Ayurvedically, pizza is the closest thing to poison, but somehow the memories are worth it. That's why we've devised these special tips, aptly named, "How to Eat Pizza and Live to Tell the Tale." Mangia!

How to Eat Pizza (and Live to Tell the Tale)

Food is not only about health. Food is also a joyful way to celebrate with loved ones. It might seem tempting to abstain from indulgence in social situations, believing that you are following the rules or being "good," but Ayurveda is not about having a perfect diet at the expense of your relationships. The word "companion" derives from the french word meaning "with bread" - you grow closer and bond with loved ones over food, which actually reduces stress and helps keep you healthy. It is healthier to eat the pizza or cake with joy than to sulk in the corner, missing out on memories & quality time with loved ones.

There are other reason why you might stray from your Ayurvedic diet, sometimes for convenience, or simply because you don't have any other options on hand. Travel, a church potluck, or a child's birthday party may make eating cookies, cake, pizza, and other "unhealthy" foods virtually unavoidable. If you generally have a healthy diet, you can afford a transgression on the weekend, so long as you are 'artful' about about it.

Ayurveda literally means the 'art of life.' To have an artful life means finding ways to live life joyfully, without sacrificing your health. While these tips won't make pizza actually healthy for you, they will help you indulge responsibly. Ayurveda can help reinforce your relationships and bond with loved ones over food, with minimal impact on your body. By following some basic steps in the example, you can figure out how to eat pizza and live to tell the tale. You don't have to follow all these tips - we've included them just to convince you that in any situation, you have lots of options to stay healthy. Once you master pizza, you'll soon figure out how to participate healthfully in myriad social situations.

Note: Yes, you might have to abstain if you have a wheat or dairy allergy, unless gluten free, dairy free options are available.

Step 1: What is Pizza Like? Let's figure out what's behind Ayurveda's 'pizza is poison' philosophy, then we'll try to restore some balance, slice by slice. First, consider how pizza makes you feel. Pizza can make you feel heavy, tired, and even depressed. You might notice a throbbing brick in your stomach that makes you feel stuffed and sluggish. That night, if you have trouble digesting pizza, you might get acid reflux, gas and bloating. The next morning, you might feel swollen and puffy.

From an Ayurvedic point of view, the main qualities of pizza are the following:

  • Pizza is Oily - The fat content in cheese literally drips off the pizza. The amount of fat in pizza may overwhelm your body's fat metabolism and be indigestible. It can 'thicken your blood' leading to gallstones.
  • Pizza is Gooey - If you've ever made pizza, you know that the dough is gloopy, goopy, and sticky before it is baked. When it comes out of the oven, it is deceivingly crispy and looks like it has lost some of that original gooeyness. But do not be fooled - once you've chewed up the pizza, that gooey stickiness returns and sits in your gut. Wheat and cheese form a sticky, gooey wad in your digestive tract, often surrounded by a thick layer of mucus. The pizza goop in your gut may be extremely difficult to digest, as stomach acids cannot penetrate this thick layer.
  • Pizza is Sweet - The amount of calories in pizza can cause weight gain, diabetes, or any number of conditions.
  • Pizza is Difficult to Digest - As we mentioned above, goopy pizza is very difficult to digest. Pizza digestion is an example of 1+1=3. When we combine two difficult to digest foods like wheat and cheese, the result is three times harder to digest.
  • Pizza is Salty - Thick 'cheesy' blood together with toomuch salt can make you feel swollen.
  • Pizza is Hot - Tomatoes are acidic. When mixed with oil, the acid heats up your liver. The acid content of tomatoes can irritate your digestive tract. Together, the oils in the cheese, mixed with the acidic tomato irritate the gallbladder, and altogether make you feel gross and disgusting inside. Heat & oil together are also acne forming. In Ayurveda, like increases like. Pizza looks like acne, so be cautious with it!
Of these, oily, gooey, and sweet are the main 'gunas' (qualities and tastes) that are out of balance. According to Ayurveda, if a food is heavy, oily, difficult, sweet and gooey like pizza, you'll want to find something that counteracts these qualities. This means counteracting with diet and lifestyle practices that are light, dry, easy, bitter, and that break up goo to balance your body. Note: If figuring out the qualities of the food you'd like to eat seems daunting, you can look it up in the ingredients section of Joyful Belly.

Step 2: Choose a responsible amount of pizza. Once you've figured out how pizza makes you feel, and its Ayurvedic qualities, you're in a great position to decide how much you can reasonably consume. No food is ever off-limits, so long as it is eaten in an appropriate quantity and with the proper precautions, it should be fine. Only you can discover the appropriate amount for your body, and you can only do so by listening. For pizza, a slice or two is normally enough to satisfy you without leading to imbalance. If you've eaten too much, you'll know - there will be a sense of heaviness, tiredness, and stagnation in the body and stomach. Notice the amount you ate, and remember to scale back in the future.

Step 3: Chew it well. Whenever you are in the worst of food situations, chew your food carefully. Saliva has digestive enzymes. Try to 'digest' the food as much as possible in your mouth. Unchewed food is even more difficult to digest. Plus, the slower you eat, the less you'll eat of potentially harmful foods, without feeling too austere.

Step 4: Always order a salad when you eat pizza. The roughage of the salad breaks up the Goopy-Pizza-Glob, dispersing it into smaller pieces instead of keeping it as one big, difficult, mass in your stomach. The bitter taste of the salad increases bile production and flushes the gall bladder, helping you mobilize heavy fats from the meat and cheese and taking the pitta-aggravating heating out of the oils. Order your salad with a vinaigrette dressing instead of ranch. The sour taste of vinegar also aids in fat metabolism by stimulating bile production and will help your body process the heavy fats in the cheese and meat.

Step 5: Order hot water with lemon. Hot water is a great way to get your digestive fire going and the sour taste of lemon improves digestion. Order this with your pizza and sip throughout the meal. Do not drink ice water or cool drinks - this will extinguish your digestive fire, and thwart all your efforts.

Step 6: Indulge Early. While it's not always possible, it is better to eat heavier foods early in the day as opposed to later. Around noon, your digestion is the strongest and therefore better prepared to handle heavy foods. If you are planning to go out for pizza or host a party with cake, try to do it around lunchtime or early afternoon rather than a late-night pizza binge. This will give your body more time to digest the heavy foods.

Step 7: Honor your body by eating light before and after. If you plan to eat pizza for lunch, eat something light for breakfast, like grapefruit with honey, and give your body a break. Your body has a tipping point. If you assault your body with bad choices meal after meal, eventually you will reach the straw that broke the camel's back. Eat lightly for dinner as well, or skip dinner altogether. This can keep your body from getting overwhelmed or bogged down by too much food. P.S. Eat just enough so that you aren't starving when you arrive at the pizza joint.

Step 8: Enjoy a stroll after your meal. Taking a short walk around the block afterwards revs your metabolism, adding an element of mobility and breaking up heaviness from the pizza.

Step 9: Consider Triphala before bed. Triphala is a mild, non-habit-forming laxative that is good to take the evening after indulgence, right before you go to bed. It will give your body a gentle cleanse, will help remove any lingering toxicity formed by the pizza, and will reset digestion so you feel ready to go the next day.

Step 10: Give Thanks, Release Regret, and Have Fun. If you eat anything with guilt or regret, it will certainly harm your body more than if you eat it with an attitude of thanks and joy. Eating a piece of pizza or a slice of cake is not the end of the world, and its important to keep that in mind. Focus on being thankful and enjoying the quality of time you have with loved ones and don't worry about the food.

Aggravated Doshas & Qualities

Imbalance Accumulates

Improper food and lifestyle causes balances to accumulate. Ayurveda shows you exactly which doshas and qualities will accumulate in your body. Once these doshas and qualities accumulate too much, they will begin to cause disease. You can reduce an imbalanced dosha or quality by removing things that aggravate it from your diet and lifestyle.

'Pizza' is likely to aggravate the following doshas and qualities.If you have a systemic imbalance of one of these doshas or qualities, Ayurveda would generally recommend removing, substitute or lessen the frequency of Pizza.

Pitta aggravatingKapha aggravatingDigestive Effects Help

Key: V = Vata, P = Pitta, K = Kapha. A slash through a dosha means it an aggravated dosha. To learn more about the symbols above, click on them.

Correct Imbalance

Food and lifestyle habite with the following effects may reduce imbalances associated with 'Pizza'.
About Pharmacological Effects
The list of actions below have not be approved by the FDA and should not be used to treat a medical condition.

Educational Resources

Browse these educational resources for 'pizza'.
Healthy Digestion Made Simple: Get Relief with...
Many doctors agree, better health starts in the digestive tract. Why? Because digestion turns food into blood. Healthy blood revitalizes your entire body...

Ayurveda Diet for Weight Loss from A to Z
Learn how Ayurveda approaches weight loss in this Audio Lecture. Discover how simple, healthy, and effective an Ayurvedic diet is to lose weight.

The Easy Way to Reduce Food Cravings
Battling with a sugar craving? In this presentation you'll learn an easy way to reduce food cravings fast.

Balance Your Kapha Diet in a Week - eCourse
Gain deeper wisdom and insight as you balance your Kapha diet in a week with this eCourse. Gracefully heal your body.

Burping & Heavy Digestion

Specialty Formulas by Joyful Belly

Please review these herbs & products below to determine which ones might be helpful for Pizza.
Liver & Lymph Cleanse Tea
Vata aggravatingPitta pacifyingKapha pacifying
$16.99 $15.29
A cleansing formula of bitters, blood movers & fat metabolizers to detoxify the liver and lymphatic system as well as flush the gall bladder.

Kitchari Cleanse - Joyful Belly Complete Kit
Contains the recipe and everything you need for a healthy 7 day cleanse. Begin healing and rejuvenating your digestive system and deep organs. Begin fresh!

Digestive Bitters
Vata pacifyingPitta pacifyingKapha pacifying
$20.83 $18.75
Digestive bitters are revered in Europe for digestion, rejuvenation, bloating relief, and mental sharpness. Caution! A little goes a long way.

Control Cravings Food Freedom Tea
Vata aggravatingPitta aggravatingKapha pacifying
Control food cravings & portion size while addressing the root causes of emotional eating including poor circulation, lymphatic congestion, & toxic buildup.

Mint Belly Bliss Tea: Energize & Awaken
Vata aggravatingPitta aggravatingKapha pacifying
Feel clean, clear, fresh and light. Mint Belly Bliss re-awakens and brightens your mood and mind after a heavy meal.

Turmeric Cumin Rescue Tea
Vata pacifyingPitta aggravatingKapha pacifying
Cleanse your body, invigorate your blood. The rustic warmth of this formula is especially useful on damp, cold days.

Ayurvedic Herbs & Natural Products for Pizza

Please review these herbs & products below to determine which ones might be helpful for Pizza.

Weight Away (9.6 oz.)
Vata aggravatingPitta aggravatingKapha pacifying
Weight Away is a cleansing formula with herbs traditionally used for weight loss and encouraging proper fat and sugar metabolism.

Triphala Tablets
Vata aggravatingPitta pacifyingKapha pacifying
The classic Ayurvedic formula for regular elimination. Promotes healthy bowel function and tone and gently removes toxicity from the colon.

Garcinia Cambogia Fruit
Vata aggravatingPitta aggravatingKapha pacifying
A famous Ayurvedic appetite suppressant that supports weight loss, healthy blood sugar, and cholesterol levels.

Diet for Pizza

A diet rich in these foods & nutritional supplements may help re-balance the aggravated qualities and doshas in pizza.
ArugulaVata aggravatingPitta pacifyingKapha pacifyingCollard GreensVata aggravatingPitta pacifyingKapha pacifying
Dandelion LeavesVata aggravatingPitta pacifyingKapha pacifyingEndiveVata aggravatingPitta pacifyingKapha pacifying
KaleVata aggravatingPitta pacifyingKapha pacifyingLemonVata pacifyingPitta aggravatingKapha pacifying
Mustard GreensVata aggravatingPitta aggravatingKapha pacifyingRed Leaf LettuceVata aggravatingPitta pacifyingKapha pacifying
Romaine LettuceVata aggravatingPitta pacifyingKapha pacifyingTurmericVata pacifyingPitta aggravatingKapha pacifying

About the Author

John Immel, the founder of Joyful Belly, teaches people how to have a healthy diet and lifestyle with Ayurveda. His approach to Ayurveda exudes a certain ease, which many find enjoyable and insightful. His online course Balance Your Ayurvedic Diet in a Week provides tools for gracefully healing with Ayurveda to thousands. John also directs Joyful Belly's School of Ayurveda , which specializes in digestive tract pathology & Ayurvedic nutrition. John and his wife Natalie recently published Explore Your Hunger: A Guide to Hunger, Appetite & Food.

John's interest in Ayurveda and digestive tract pathology was inspired by a complex digestive disorder acquired from years of international travel, including his public service work in South Asia. John's commitment to the detailed study of digestive disorders reflects his zeal to get down to the roots of the problem. His hope and belief in the capacity of each & every client to improve their quality of life is nothing short of a personal passion. John's creativity in the kitchen and delight in cooking for others comes from his family oriented upbringing. In addition to his certification in Ayurveda, John holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Harvard University.

John enjoys sharing Ayurveda within the context of his Catholic roots, and finds Ayurveda gives him an opportunity to participate in the healing mission of the Church. Jesus expressed God's love by feeding and healing the sick. That kindness is the fundamental ministry of Ayurveda as well.

Comments & Personal Experiences

What are some of the reasons why you include 'pizza' in your life? Is there something you'd like to know about 'pizza'?

(4.50 out of 5 stars) 2 reviews

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A great practical approach- thank you!

- Sunflower, WY, 09-01-14 (Reply)
If you're vata, would you still try to eat a salad with your pizza?
- Lauren Bohart, Dallas, TX, 10-12-14 (Reply)
Great question! For Vata constitutions, a small salad is still helpful especially with black pepper and plenty of dressing. Even better would be lightly cooked vegetables with some oil. A tasty remedy is to sprinkle red pepper flakes on your pizza. Lucky for us, that is already on the table at most pizza shops. If these tips aren't enough to help your body digest pizza, consider a consultation. Does that help?

What is Joyful Belly?

Browse recipes and hundreds of other ingredients on this extensive educational website. Joyful Belly helps people confidently choose food that restores their healthy glow, using the ancient technique of Ayurveda. Our extensive collection of online recipes, ingredients, and articles makes health easy. To get started, take the free dosha quiz to find your Ayurvedic body type.

What is Ayurveda?

Learn about Ayurveda from the author of this article and founder of Joyful Belly,
John Immel.

* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information and products on this website are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
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