Ayurveda the holistic medical system of India; deals with all embodied lives; humans, animals and plants. Even though Ayurveda is referred as a medical system, therapies form only a tip of Ayurveda. Ayurveda narrates vividly on health and measures to maintain health and longevity. Of course, one of the important steps to maintain health is careful eating. So let us discuss about eating here.
Eating is one of the pleasures we begin to enjoy immediately after birth. Even if you are not a fan of food, you may have enjoyed and relaxed by food many times in your life. Because eating involves pleasures from all the senses- enjoying the appearance of food, its salivating aroma, and different crunchy and yummy sounds and of course taste. Taste is the second most widely situated special sensory perception. Taste buds are distributed from tip of the tongue to throat.
So we are very much tempted to eat in a completely unhealthy way, relieving just our senses forgetting that the prime function of food is to provide energy and nutrients for body. It is possible to make eating healthy and enjoyable at the same time. Most of us know basic principles to select food. Ayurveda elaborately advises on the dos and don’ts of eating. Care your body by appropriate selection of food and by following these simple healthy eating tips.
1. Eat when you are hungry:
Ayurveda repeatedly advises to eat only when you are hungry. Allow your earlier meal to digest properly and stomach to get ready to receive food. Never suppress hunger either. If you don’t feel proper hunger, chew a piece of fresh ginger, which can improve your digestive energy (referred as agni in Ayurveda). Always seek help if your appetite is not good as undigested food can gradually turn into toxins that can cause diseases. Also body won’t be properly nourished and maintained from that food.
2. Be mindful when you are eating:
We tend to eat on the go, or eat while lost in the gadgets. It’s ok if you are multi tasking once a while, or listening to music or watching something as long as you are giving due attention to what and how you are eating at each bite. Being mindful while you are eating and chewing properly, can help you to enjoy whatever you eat and eat within your limits. Avoid eating too slow or too fast. If you eat too quickly, you can end up in eating more than you need. Also there won’t be enough chewing, enough mixing of food with saliva and stomach wouldn’t get enough time to prepare to receive food. If you eat too slowly, you will get bored with food, and may not eat enough. Also you wouldn’t secrete required amount of digestive juices and hormones.
3. Eat substantiate food:
Your food should be substantiate enough to fill your stomach adequately. Eat wholesome food. Make sure you have required portions of carbohydrates, proteins, vegetables, fruits and water/fluids. Prefer to eat freshly cooked food as the vitality will begin to lose after a few hours from cooking and/ or preparation. Always remember to make your food interesting and appealing. Bring variety to your food; try different grains, proteins, veggies and fruits and different recipes and cooking methods. Make sure you source a part of your carbohydrates from grains. Include moderate amount of healthy fat in your daily food. Spices are very good to balance doshas and enkindle digestive fire. Appropriate use of spices like ginger, fennel seeds, pepper, turmeric, coriander, etc. is highly recommended.
4. Select food according to the season and your body type:
Select the food according to your Ayurvedic body type and seasons. During summer light and moist foods are better. During winter warm and nourishing foods are recommended. Include lots of seasonal fruits (considering your Ayurvedic body constitution as well) in your food.
5. Prefer local produce:
Eat locally available seasonal produce as Mother Nature stores nutrients required to sustain in that specific season in that specific region.
6. Cook according to the need:
Qualities of food can be changed by the way you cook it. Rice, if made thick porridge is heavy, but its thin liquid or rice flakes are light. Cooking should be in a way to turn the selected food material into an easily digestible one without many problems. That is why it is generally recommended to add turmeric to cool meat foods and; asafoetida, ginger and garlic to aid digestion of pulses. Also different cooking methods help to improve some qualities, retain some others and lose certain other qualities.
7. Before eating, feed someone:
Before you eat, Ayurveda strongly recommends to feed someone. It can be your kids, pets, guests or servants. This can make you satisfied and happy; increasing the release of hormones required for digestion.
8. Eat in a pleasant atmosphere:
Always eat in a pleasant and comfortable place in a good company. Eating alone or eating by involving in something, even busy talking is not encouraged as body can’t concentrate on processing food. Food is sacred, it builds your body, give due respect to it.
9. Avoid unhealthy foods:
Avoid eating rotten, undercooked, overcooked, burnt or putrefied food. Avoid over use or dominance of any single produce or flavour in your food.
10. Eat within your limit:
Eat until you feel satisfied and happy, not beyond that. Ayurveda recommends filling one third of your stomach with food, one third with water and leaving one third empty to aid proper mixing of food. Drink warm or room temperature water. Do not eat when you are angry, sad or emotionally unstable. It is recommended to stroll for 100 steps after eating to aid digestion. But do not involve in structured exercise, sex, studying, sleep and bathing within one hour of your food.
There is nothing wrong in completely forgetting all the diet rules and just enjoying the food in front of you once a while. But it should be an occasional one, should not be too much and should not be completely out of the box. If you regularly have healthy food, you body will have the ability to overcome occasional unhealthy foods. Always remember, food if used wisely can act as a medicine and otherwise as the reason for diseases.