Right food choices can help you feel healthy, alive
“When diet is wrong, medicine is of no use. When diet is correct, medicine is of no need.” – Ayurvedic Proverb
Ayurveda is all about self-knowledge and self-discovery. It is about being an active participant in finding out what foods and lifestyle choices can help you feel healthy and alive.
Ayurvedic nutrition focuses on using the qualities of foods to balance the qualities of the external (the weather) and internal (within you) environments with the understanding that like increases like and opposites balance.
For example, on a cold winter day it would be more balancing to have a bowl of nice warm soup than a bowl of ice cream … So this is a pretty common sense approach.
There are dosha quizzes and food lists that can help you choose appropriate foods for your constitution. Each person is a unique individual with constantly changing needs.
So, instead of labeling a food as “good” or “bad,” it may be more helpful to bring some awareness to meal times as a way to see what is truly working for you.
Ideally, you should feel light and energized with a clear, alert, attentive mind after you finish a meal. But if you have indigestion, you may feel heavy, bloated, have heartburn and feel tired and dull with an unfocused mind.
So, after a meal, take a moment to notice … What did I eat? When? How did the food make me feel physically and emotionally? And how well did I digest it?
Remember, it is a process. It doesn’t have to be perfect or stressful. But eating a nourishing diet just right for your constitution can change your life.
We become what we eat on a cellular level. This can either support illness and the road to disease in body and mind, or support health, longevity and vitality. It is that simple.
Also important is the way the meal is approached. Here are some thoughts to consider:
- Eat only when truly hungry; bring attention to overeating or emotional eating
- Support the agni (digestive fire) by allowing plenty of time between meals to digest. Avoid iced cold drinks, especially with meals (too much liquid or cold can weaken the digestive enzymes in the stomach, leading to indigestion)
- Try to have a regular routine around meal times
- Cook your meals at home whenever possible and choose the highest quality ingredients available to you
- Eat seasonal and locally grown food as Nature is providing just what we need
- Try not to cook or eat when emotionally aggravated, putting negative energy into the food. Make the meal with love (it tastes much better that way!)
- As much as possible, sit down in a relaxed and peaceful environment to enjoy your meal (as opposed to eating on the go)
- Light a candle on the table (this is a way to honor the god of fire “Agni” in Ayurveda tradition)
- Take 3 deep breaths before you begin to eat, maybe taking a moment to give gratitude for your food
- Eat slowly and enjoy the taste, texture and effect of the food
- Chew your food well to support digestion in your stomach (pieces of food that are too big are more taxing on the digestive organs and can lead to malabsorption)
- Take a siesta when you’re done … lie on your left side for 10-15 minutes after eating to encourage the “rest and digest” mode instead of the “fight or flight” response our bodies are often chronically held in.
- Enjoy some digestive tea …
Mix 1 tsp each of cumin, coriander and fennel seeds with 1 quart of water
Bring to a boil for 10 minutes
Strain and sweeten as desired
Ayurvedic medicine states that “every food can heal and every food can harm.” What matters most is bringing awareness, consciousness and wisdom to our daily choices. Enjoy the foods you love if they are helping you feel balanced and vibrant. If you find yourself feeling unbalanced or not well, open up to the possibilities of healing with food!