Mindful eating in Ayurveda
Our body is made up of the nutrients from the foods we consume. It becomes a medicine when consumed properly says Ayurveda. The basic point in Ayurveda is proper metabolism of food. Health starts with proper digestion. We have experienced a disturbance in our digestion due to a confused emotion , similarly a confused digestion can upset your emotions too. An improper digestion leads to the accumulation of toxins or ama in the body which is the root cause of all disorders.
It is important the food that we eat nourishes our digestive fire and gives satisfaction to all our senses, spirit and mind.
When to eat?
- Eat when you are hungry:
Our body sends signals when it is hungry and thirsty. Take heed. It is important to listen to our own body and understand the needs. Your body sends for hunger signals when your previous meal is digested completely. Maintaining a regular mealtime is a healthy practice. Though waiting for hunger pangs and eating regular time seems to be contradictory, you could regularise your hungry mealtime in a week or two.
- Lunch should be the main meal of the day. It is the time when digestive fire is at the highest. When the sun goes down, the digestive fire also settles down.
- Early dinner is recommended since late foods stay undigested and disturbs the overall health.
- Avoid frequent snacking. The bio-rhythm of digestive fire is to go high and settle down after digestion. When there is frequent snacks the digestive fire cannot rejuvenate itself. This in turn causes disorders in the body.
How to eat ?
Some important eating habits suggested by Ayurveda -
- Mindful eating : Pay attention to your system while eating. Stop when your hunger is pacified. It is wise to stop before you become full.
- Choose a calm place to eat. Settle down comfortably and eat.
- Eating in anxiety and restlessness cause diseases.
- Shut off all disturbances - Television, Music, talking, reading etc.
- Don't eat for emotions : Food is associated with security and comfort for us from childhood through breastfeeding. It is natural to crave for foods when in anxiety. Remember always to feed your body and not the emotions. Paying attention to your body would help you differentiate between actual hunger and emotional desire to eat.
- Use all five senses while eating - Take time to appreciate its smell, colour and taste. Food should satiate not only body, but mins and soul.
- A pleasant, hygienic and cheerful atmosphere with the company of your loved ones make food a treat to your body.
- Eating too slow or too fast would affect the digestive process
- Order of food is important too. Ayurveda recommends to maintain the order of food according to taste and digestion. Sweet, sour and pungent is the order of digestion. Sweets take more time to digest that is why many old traditions serve sweets before food.
What to eat :
It is always a million dollar question to know what to eat for a good health. Ayurveda suggests the following
- Plan your diet according to your predominant dosha
- Choose foods that contain "prana" or the life force within it. These foods are living, natural foods that instill more energy and good health. It is also called satvic food easy to digest and doesn't cause lethargy and heaviness.
- Satvic foods are the one which retain the natural intelligence - the intelligence which nature has rendered. While we consume satvic foods, our innate system finds it easy to process since by default our body is aligned to the laws of the cosmos and nature
- Artificially flavoured, processed, genetically-modified, foods with synthetic-chemicals are no longer alive and lack the intelligence. They are the root cause of all the diseases and disorders of body.
- It makes sense when we think human race has evolved thousands of years with all goodness of health so long eating whole grains and natural foods. These pesticides and processing of food has entered our food chain just a few centuries ago causing in drastic increase in many disorders of body.
- Eat warm, cooked foods that eases our digestion process. While cooking a space is created between its cellular structure, thus easing our digestive enzymes to penetrate and break it down completely.
- Avoid cold food and water
- Include all six tastes - sweet, salty, sour, pungent, bitter and astringent must be present in our meal. These tastes are the codes sent from our taste buds to brain informing that food is taken to regain the lost energy. When we don't take the right tastes, the brain is not satiated and asks for more food. We in turn tend to eat more, but remain malnutritioned.
- Lack of these six tastes in meal is the reason for our sweet cravings. Ayurveda suggests to meditate and take a breathing exercise whenever you get emotion-based unhealthy cravings. Drinking warm milk would cut down sweet cravings.
- Ayurveda suggests to avoid some food combinations that drains our energy.
Thus when you learn to take heed of your body'e needs, you arrive at a healthy phase of feeding it. You would stop fighting with the disorder and arrive at a proper balance. Ayurveda provides you a new perspective to your own body and creates a health consciousness in you which in turn attributes to strong immune and perfect energy to unleash your true potential.