Ayurvedic Diet - Guidelines For Healthy Eating.
Did you know that as soon as you LOOK at your food, your brain tells your digestive system to start secreting specific enzymes to digest specific foods--it's an amazing historical system that REMEMBERS how to digest foods you've eaten before!
Did you also know your brain prioritizes and engages in a low level of distraction, or sensory input all...the...time?
What does this mean for digestion, you ask? Well, if you're engaged in work, TV, movies, even really intense or emotional conversation, while you eat, your brain will prioritize the other stuff before it works on digestion. Those digestive enzymes, bile salts, etc. aren't going to be produced as accurately or as effectively as they could have been.
This means you're more likely to get gas, bloating, cramping, even diarrhea directly after a meal you ate when watching TV or doing work versus a meal you ate, calmly, free of technology, and in a peaceful environment.
This is why Ayurveda says 80-85% of digestive problems can be solved not by what you eat but HOW you eat.
So next time you sit down, try these Ayurvedic Diet Healthy Eating Guidelines:
1) Step away from work and technology (all screens, including phones, TV, tablets, etc.). If possible, sit outside or in a peaceful environment. Make your eating area/dining table beautiful to look at with fresh flowers, pretty cloth napkins, etc. Make this seemingly mundane habit SACRED. This is, after all, how you nourish, heal, and produce bodily tissue.
2) Once you sit down, close your eyes and take 3 deep breaths or say grace, express silent gratitude, or feel love for all the plants, animals, and people who contributed to the meal in front of you. If you eat with your family or friends, see if they'd like to join you. If you're shy and in a group, just take a deep breath to calm and ground yourself before digging in--no one has to know.
3) Once you begin eating, CHEW THOROUGHLY. This can be life-changing for some. If you're like me, you've been "scarfing" down your food for a lifetime, maybe always finishing your plate first. Instead, focus on the act of chewing. There is no magic number; just try to chew each bite until the food is a consistent texture. This can take care of SO many digestive issues for most.
4) If you're alone, enjoy the silence. It's only a few minutes, after all, and it's a great way to get yourself "used to" being with yourself, especially if you have resistance to a meditation practice. This can be a big step in that direction. If you're in a group, keep the conversation uplifting and light; now is not the time to bring up politics or religion...two topics sure to cause indigestion.
5) Eat only until your are about 70% full. This will differ from person-to-person, but a nice guide can be your cupped hands. If you can eyeball what amount of food might fit into them (it's actually quite a bit), you'll just about hit the 70% full mark for your build/structure (ie. the bigger the person, the larger the bone structure/hands, the larger the amount of food; vice-versa for a smaller person with a smaller build and smaller stomach). This is a great way to maintain or get back to your ideal weight for your particular structure and metabolism.
But give yourself time to find what 70% is . You shouldn't be hungry for at least 3 hours if you eat just enough. If you're bloated or not hungry again for 5+ hours, you probably ate too much. Hungry again after just 2 hours? You might need to eat a bit more. Experiment and be patient as you get back in touch with your natural hunger and fullness cues. It can take time.
5) After you eat, sit for 10-15 minutes. I love to use this time to read for pleasure. It's a wonderful segue between eating/digestion and getting back into the workday. If you truly don't have time to enjoy a few minutes of sitting after a meal, at least take 3 deep breaths or take one more moment of silence to keep your nervous system calm and grounded before getting back into your workday or activities.
6) Avoid drinking cold liquids with your meal. This slows down and impairs digestion. In addition, limit any liquid with meals to just 1/2 cup of warm or room temperature water or herbal tea. Any more will, again, interfere with digestion.
7) Wait to eat again for 3 or more hours before eating again to allow food to pass through all 3 stages of digestion (stomach, small intestines, and large intestines). If you simply wait until you have natural hunger cues (stomach "rumbling"), you're set. This, again, just like the 70% full rule might take some time if you're used to working through meals or ignoring bodily urges because of busy-ness or creative pursuits.
If you eat too soon, you'll take away energy from the stage of digestion in which your last meal or snack still is. It's like dumping raw rice on top of half-cooked rice...you'll end up with burnt rice, cooked rice, and some raw rice. Allow your food to fully pass (fully "cook") through all the digestive stages before eating again.
8) Consider taking an Ayurvedic Digestive Formula, depending on your prakruti and/or vikruti (Ayurvedic constitution and current imbalance(s)). You'll want to consult with your Ayurvedic Practitioner to know exactly what you need. I usually make my patients their formulas, but here are the pre-made formulas I recommend from Banyan Botanicals:
To Learn More About The Ayurvedic Diet - Here is a great article from Banyan Botanicals
How did you eat today? Let me know if you have any questions or comments!
Sending love and good digestion to everyone out there!
If you would like to learn more about Ayurveda in general - Visit My About Ayurveda Page
Meghan Hays is an Ayurvedic practitioner in Salt Lake City.
If you are looking for Ayurveda Salt Lake City or in Park City Utah, please use the e-mail above to contact her for your initial consult or Book Now .