During my Panchakarma retreat, I had to stick to a certain diet. For seven days in a row, I was only allowed to eat certain foods and drink certain beverages. The preceding and following weeks, I was also restricted in the type of foods I was permitted to eat and the beverages I drank. My diet was typical - nearly all Panchakarma programs follow the same basic food and beverage plan. There may be some slight variations depending on your Dosha, the length of your program and your Ayurveda practitioner's course of treatment individualized for your specific needs.
The Week Before the Retreat
During the week before the retreat, I had to stop eating and drinking all of the following:
- all processed, frozen, canned, fried and fast foods
- most cheeses
- breads and other products containing yeast
- sugar and foods containing sugar
- coffee, tea and other beverages containing caffeine
- sodas, juices and other drinks containing sugar or sugar substitutes
The Week During the Retreat
During the week of the retreat, I was limited to eating and drinking only the following:
Upon Waking Up
Within 10 to 15 minutes of waking up, after scraping my tongue, brushing my teeth and washing my eyes and face, I had to take Ghee. I took in liquid form and began with 2 ounces on the first day and worked up to 4 ounces by the third day. Ghee is clarified (drawn) butter which is often used in traditional Indian, Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine. It can be purchased at health food and speciality stores or online. It can also be made at home by simmering unsalted butter until all of the milk solids and water are removed. I made my own Ghee from organic butter, following a simple recipe I found online.
Stewed Spiced Fruit and Almonds
For breakfast, I had spiced stewed fruit consisting of apples, pears, prunes, apricots and raisins with a pinch of cloves, cardamom, cinnamon and nutmeg. To make this dish, simply wash and cut a small pear and apple into bite-sized pieces and combine them with the other fruits and spices in a saucepan with about 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes. Strain and enjoy with 10 - 12 almonds. The almonds should be soaked in spring water overnight.
Lunch and Dinner
Kitchari means "mixture" and during Panchakarma generally consists of split yellow mung dal beans or red lentils, basmati rice, chopped seasonal vegetables, Ghee, ginger root and other spices (turmeric, coriander, cumin, fennel, etc.). I made my Kitchari with mung dal beans, used the spices mentioned and added chopped ginger root, celery, zucchini and fresh cilantro. I steamed the basmati rice separately and then combined everything on my plate.
I was allowed to drink room-temperature water and Ayurvedic detoxifying tea made from steeping whole cumin, coriander, fenugreek and fennel seeds.
For typical Kitchari and detox tea recipes, visit Ayurveda Health Retreat: Ayurvedic Recipes.
The Week After the Retreat
|Banyan Botanicals Organic Chyavanprash|
Available from PureFormulas.com
I was also instructed to take 1 - 2 teaspons of Chyavanprash (also spelled Chyawanprash) every day. Chyavanprash is a Rasayana preparation - a nutritive Ayurvedic jam that has many health benefits and is used during the rejuvenation phase of Panchakarma.
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