We are today perhaps more prosperous than ever with access to the best in the world. Yet, with all this excess we are still miles behind in managing our health. Cases of lifestyle diseases are higher than ever before and malnutrition is reported in children across income spectrum. The reason is often traced to unhealthy habits, including our diet.
These modern practices unfortunately ignore our own traditions of healthy eating, many of which are based on Ayurvedic principles. A close study of Ayurvedic texts often reveals that our ancient traditions were quite closely aligned to these medicinal texts. In fact, many Ayurvedic remedies for common digestion related disorders often echo the home remedies that our own grand mother's prescribe! Luckily we also have Ayurvedic medicine manufacturers today who have modernised these ancient cures.
Ayurvedic Principles on Eating
In Ayurveda, food and the act of eating are one of the most vital part of our life. Food gives us nourishment and life. Any imbalance in our doshas or an illness can traced back to the food we eat. This makes the food that we eat very important. Food and its properties are explored in detail in Ayurvedic texts with elaborate chapters on principles of good eating, medicinal food, do's and don'ts explained in detail.
Principles of Good Eating
Food is not just about its constituents. It is our nourishment and what builds our body and mind. Even the act of eating is important to ensure that we respect the food and derive the maximum nourishment from it. Food is also meant to be medicinal. In fact, many of the formulation by Ayurvedic medicine manufacturers contain regular food ingredients like jeera, amla and tulsi. This is why Ayurveda has some clear principles on the practise of good eating. These are:
Eat at a regular time: Our body has its own cycle and following this is important. So, keep your mealtimes regular.
Sit down for your meal: Food should be eaten in a relaxed manner. So avoid eating on the go, while running, driving or walking. Instead sit down for you meals.
No distractions: Do not switch on the TV or talk on the phone while eating. Sit in a distraction free room. Conversation with friends and family are allowed.
Mindful eating: Food is the nourisher. So pay attention to its taste, texture and ingredients. This improves the absorption of nutrients in the body.
Eat the right quantity: Overeating as well as under-eating are both bad for us. Instead we must eat the right amount or only as much as we need to.
Eat when you are hungry: If you do overeat and are too full, skip a meal. Ayurveda recommends that we eat only when our meal is digested.
Eat warm meals: In Ayurveda digestion is agni, which is share and hot. Food should aid agni and not oppose it. This is why eating warm food is highly recommended (but it should not be too hot), while cold food should be avoided at meal times. However, curd or buttermilk should be taken at the end.
Food should be properly prepared: It should be cooked properly. Uncooked food is to be specifically avoided in situation like pregnancy. It should also be cooked with spices. This has particular importance in Ayurveda which sees various spices as medicinal. The spices in food aid in its digestion, help avoid indigestion and curb gas.
Eating seasonal food: Ayurveda believes strongly in eating food that is seasonal. So, eat whichever food and vegetables are in season. For example, eat mangoes in summer and carrots in winter.
Hot and cold food: As mentioned above, Ayurveda sees some food as hot and some as cold. Bananas, sugar, sweets are all seen as cold and should be avoided in people suffering from cough-related illnesses. Hot food like meats, milk, onion, honey and jaggery aids the body's development. However, these should be avoided if one is suffering from insomnia, gas, piles,and sinuses.Hot-tempered and anxious people should also avoid such food.
Apart from following these general principles, one can also take tonics and supplements by Ayurvedic manufacturers. Following an Ayurvedic diet can build our strength organically, building our immunity and helping our overall health.