Food is vital to our body not only because it nourishes our tissues, but because it gives energy or Prana, and satisfies us on a sensual level through various tastes.
While there are particular foods for different Doshas or ayurvedic body types, there are also general ayurvedic eating principles that fit everyone:
- Our meals should be cooked from high quality natural food, which is fresh (not expired).
- It’s best to consume prepared food within 3-3,5 hours since cooking.
- Since our food influences all the senses not only the tongue, we need to consider the right dishes for our dosha combination.
- Food should be prepared with the proper mood, because the emotions you experience during cooking will be transferred into a dish on a subtle, energetic level. According to Ayurveda, it’s ideal if the food is offered to God before serving (it is called ‘Prasad’ in Sanskrit, which means ‘the mercy of God’).
Ayurvedic eating tips to improve digestion and stay healthy
Take food only when you’re hungry – it is not uncommon when people eat due to various reasons except when they are really hungry (well, of course we do eat out of hunger, but it’s usually far from being the main reason).
Hunger tells us that our stomach is ready to accept food – and what is really important – to digest it nicely. If you eat out of real hunger, your body gets the most of your food, assimilating the nutrients and energy with the highest efficiency.
What happens when we consume food for other reasons? It often turns into toxins and the excessive weight.
Water – drink it when you are thirsty, but do not drink any liquid right after the meals. You can have some warm water during your meals but not too much otherwise it may interfere with your digestive “fire”.
In general, Ayurveda recommends to stay away from cold carbonated drinks (sodas, etc.), because they do negatively affect our digestion. They increase Vata dosha and usually contain lots of sugar. Any liquid you take should be ideally lukewarm or warmer, but not too hot.
Have your meals in a peaceful place, and with peaceful mind. If you are exhausted, angered, irritated or full of fear, do not eat anything, because the food will produce a lot of toxins during its digestion.
Since the food digestion is connected with the internal bodily energy or Prana, Ayurveda advises to eat when you breathe through the right nostril (the Sun nostril), or you can breathe through it after the meals to improve the assimilation of the nutrients by the stomach.
Consume your meals while seated, when the abdominal muscles are relaxed. It’s better to keep your back straight but not strained.
Avoid distraction while eating. It is said that Prana or life energy follows the mind. Our attention is where our mind is at the present moment. When you’re focused on what you eat, you get the most for your food, as well as you feel its taste and receive more satisfaction.
Placing attention on the eating process is also connected with taking food slowly, and the thorough chewing. These three will help you to improve your digestion dramatically, and prevent overeating, which is one of the most common causes of obesity. It will also fight constipation. So if you want to lose weight, be more conscious about what you eat, what and how, and the results will come, though slowly, but steadily.
What does it mean not to overeat? It means that you need to fill half of your stomach with food, 1/4 with water, and leave 1/4 for air. Some ayurvedic doctors suggest dividing it into three parts: 1/3 for food, 1/3 for water, 1/3 for air.
Don’t nap after your meals, because it slows down the metabolic processes in the body, so your digestion will be far from optimal. Day sleep is generally not recommended; only people with predominant Vata Dosha can have a 15-20 minute nap.
So these are the simple Ayurvedic eating tips and principles you can incorporate into your daily routine, and enjoy healthy digestion and normal weight.