How to eat your way to good health: The Ayurveda Way
Often considered to be the oldest system of healing in the world, Ayurveda has a holistic approach to healthcare. Sprawling in all aspects of one’s being, Ayurveda attempts to bring into harmony the mind, body, and spirit. While it might take at least a 300 pages book to able demonstrate the teachings of Ayurveda, let us touch upon a vital aspect of healthcare, food. After all, you do become what you eat, right?
The elementary truthAyurveda demonstrates that the human body is made up of the same dynamic elements as the universe. No this is not referring to abstract or poetic approaches of saying you are stardust. Rather let us refer to what the ancient Sages found out thousands of years ago. Back in the time, none of the modern vocabularies of cells, tissues, muscles, organs or the likes existed. The sages observed life itself and noted their findings. The five basic elements that made up the cosmos, namely earth, fire, air, water, and ether also made up the human body. This understanding is the basis of Ayurveda. Though the percentage of each element present differs from one body to another, the sages observed how these element combines in the human body and came up with a template for types of constitutions. Ether and air combine to form the energy of movement. This is called Vata in Ayurveda. Fire and water make the function of metabolism run smooth, called Pitta. Earth and Water give solidity and structure and is called Kapha. The unique combination of these energies makes up your constitution. The combinations are called doshas and balancing them will bring you vibrant health says the ayurvedic doctors. They also determine what kind of food will be suitable for somebody to maintain a vibrant body and calm, efficient mind.
However, there are certain basic tips that must be followed regardless of what your constitution is.
Wake up call and warm waterWhen you drink a glass full of warm water upon waking up, it prepares your kidneys and bowels for evacuation. However, if you are accustomed to an irregular bowel movement, it might take some time to reestablish a morning routine. Take the first step. Make sipping warm water the first thing in the morning a habit and hopefully, within the next few days, your body will be back on rhythm
Break the fast well
In India it is common to hear the elders advising not to leave the house on an empty stomach. Ayurveda tells us the reason for that. Upon waking up and cleansing, the body needs nourishment. Deprivation of that will make the body produce acid and make you feel uncomfortable. By noon, the digestive fire will rise to make your system more acidic. Missing breakfast also makes way to an irritated mind.
Therefore start your day with a good morning meal. Sip into a fresh fruit or vegetable juice and nutritious bites like almonds or raisins soaked in water, warm bread with honey, cooked cereal and fresh juicy fruit. It is an absolute no-no in Ayurveda to combine milk with acidic foods like fruits, yogurt or cheese. It is believed to disturb the digestive fire and curdle the milk in the stomach. So stick to the glass of fresh juice and ditch that cup of coffee for a healthier start of the day.
Eat lunch like a king
Noon is the time when both the digestive fire and the energy of the sun are at their peak. Ayurveda asks us to have the largest meal of the day at noon. However given that most of us are at work during lunch hours, it is general to skip lunch. Start making tiny shifts and healthier choices. You will be thankful for how good you feel.
Rethink SnackingAyurveda advises against snacking. However, if you are really craving for a snack then check back if four hours have passed from your last meal. You should munch on a snack only the last meal is digested or else the digestive system has to work extra hard and might lead to an erratic appetite.
Dine fineeating just before sunset is considered healthiest in Ayurveda. It allows time for the dinner to get digested properly before going to bed. Dinner should be light and nourishing. Think soups, cooked grains with vegetables, etc. A thirty minutes gentle walk before sleeping is also considered to aid digestion and induce better sleep.
Sip water throughout the dayWe all know that the best way to stay healthy, smooth functioning of the organs and glowing skin is to stay hydrated. Ayurveda advises keeping drinking tepid warm water throughout the day. It also asks to ditch the coffee and drink herbal teas. If it is too much for you to say goodbye to the tea or coffee, cut the cups down to at most two per day.
Choose your food wellAyurveda advocates listening to the body while eating. It divides taste into six categories, sweet, salty, sour, bitter, pungent and astringent. According to Ayurveda, the key to having a balanced meal is to have all these tastes in a meal. It says the body talks the language of sensation. When we crave for sweet or savory or any other taste, that’s the body’s way of letting us know what it needs. However, you should find a healthy and natural food to provide for the taste to give the body the nutrients it is asking for.
It might be pretty difficult to follow the above but it is advisable to start small. Choose to replace one cup of coffee with a healthier juice. Try cutting meat from the dinner or having dinner half an hour early. Just remember sudden big changes are not sustainable and do more harm than good. Instead, take up one practice and build upon it gradually. The result of your tiny efforts will show up soon and the compliments received shall surprise you.