All of us these days are aware of healthy food and junk food. Even after prominently consuming home cooked food we have indigestion, stomach bloating, gastric problems etc. Why is this so?
I found an answer in Ayurveda. This ancient science of medicine clearly explains, How to eat? How much to eat? What to eat? And when to eat ? This science also explains that improper digestion is the root cause of all ailments. If we pay attention on our eating habits most of the ailments can be solved.
How to eat?
- We need to sit down with our legs folded.
- Back straight.
- Take a bite, chew, swallow and empty your mouth before taking the second bite.
- Sit in a neat and comfortable place. Suppose there are clutter in the room do not sit between the clutters and eat. First clear the mess in the room and then start eating. This will clear the mind, which will help in better digestion.
- Do not talk when the food is there in your mouth as we may swallow the food without chewing. Talk when the mouth is empty.
- Talk only about things which u like or which will make u happy. Do not comment or criticise a person while eating.
- Do not eat food with persons whom you don’t like as this creates stress in your mind and it will be difficult to calm your mind.
- Take at least 20 minutes to eat a meal.
- The world will not end – ignore all other work while eating including watching television and talking over the phone.
- Take sips of water while eating.
- Concentrate on the food and enjoy the process of eating. If possible we can think that this is what is going to give me good health and good thoughts.
- In other cuisines they serve starters but in southIndiathere are no starters given before food. To understand this we need to know why starters are given. The starters normally make us feel more curious to have the food and because of the curiosity the hydrochloric acid is increased in the stomach and the stomach will wait for the food. In southIndia, there is a habit to serve the food once the person has sat down for a meal. First the person will have a look at the food that is getting served and smell it. If the looks and smell of the food that is served is good it automatically increases the hydrochloric acid. This acid will help in digestion so production in a good quantity is important.
How much to eat?
Ayurveda believes in five elements (earth, fire, water, space, air) which are present in everything and in every activity. The formula that is given to decide how much to eat is like this,
1/3 food + 1/3 Liquid + 1/3 space = Right quantity of meal.
If we follow the how to eat aspects explained above (sitting down, eating slowly etc.) – then when our stomach is 2/3 filled we will get a burp. This indicates that we have 1/3 space left and that is required for the good digestion. Stop eating at this stage. This space will be filled with the air. If we eat fast this burp is not heard or noticed by us, before that we have loaded our stomach with lots of food (sometimes only dry food without liquid).
[Liquid = Soup, tea without milk or green tea, luke warm water]
[Liquid does not mean any juices, soft drinks, cola or anything cold]
Suppose we are having a meal with chappati and vegetable. Do not fill the entire stomach with the food. Can have a bowl of soup or a cup of tea with the food. Have only tiny sips of water in between. Do not have too much water. 1/3 ratio has to be kept in mind. But can have soup and water combination to make it 1/3rd.
Normally I have 3 pulkas and side dish for lunch. When I tried – 1/3rd ratio. On the first day I had a small bowl of soup and continued the meal. To my surprise I got the burp when I have almost finished 1 1/2 pulkas with side dish. So I stopped the meal. The very next day I made only 2 pulkas thinking, that is my capacity. To my surprise I got a burp soon after finishing the soup. I was confused and decided to eat the 2 pulkas. Believe me I just didn’t feel hungry for dinner that day. Our body clearly gives indications. We will be able to listen to it only when we are calm.
Ayurveda do not recommend too many small meals. Actually it says the person who eats more is a Rogi (diseased person), the person who eats one meal is a yogi. When I consulted my ayurvedic physician and asked him whether one meal is sufficient. He said NO. But he didn’t explain the reasons. He recommends a breakfast; lunch and dinner may be fruits in between.
What to eat?
As we all know we need to eat healthy food. What is healthy food as per Ayurveda?
- The food which has prana in it. Prana for the time being let us understand as the life in the food. As we have life, the plants have life; the food that we have also has life. Prana is a subject to be discussed in detail – I will mention more about it in a different article.
- The food will have the life energy (prana) if cooked fresh.
- Food should be consumed within 3 hours after cooking and should not be reheated. But can be consumed up to 8 hours after cooking and kept in room temperate without reheating. When we reheat, the prana is lost. Then it becomes a dead food and hard to digest.
- Only plant based food. Vegetarian food is recommended.
- Processed food, frozen food and refrigerated food does not contain prana so these are to be avoided.
- A meal should have cereal, pulses and vegetables.
- Raw food (uncooked) is very bad if consumed as a meal. As it will take more energy from the body to digest and we may not have the energy to do work.
When to eat?
Out of the five elements, the three elements earth (object = food), water and space are already addressed. Now we will address the aspect of fire. For the time being let us understood fire as hydrochloric acid. The stomach should have the required warmth. So a cold dessert should be avoided after a meal or a cold glass of water. The stomach is considered as a bowl and the food inside is cooked with fire. If we put cold water in the stove it will take some time to ignite again or in other words the fire is disturbed.
We also need the sunlight for good digestion. No food should be consumed after sun set.
May be we can have the following time for the meals 8 am – breakfast, lunch between 12 noon to 1.30 (not later than that as this is the most important meal of the day), dinner between 6 pm to 7 pm (at least 3 to 4 hrs before sleep). This will give us a gap of 10 to 12 hours (between dinner and breakfast) of fasting everyday. By this time the food will be completely digested.
The last element is air. We need to breathe calm after a meal. Suppose we are going to be angry after a meal our breath will be shallow and it is not good for digestion.
After knowing the right way of eating we will be clear why we have the problems like bloating, gastric trouble, in digestion etc. If we stuff our stomach with food without the liquid and space, it bloats and gives uncomfortable burps and tries to push the food up.
[This burp is different from the burp I mentioned earlier. That is a sense of satisfaction burp. This is an uncomfortable burp]
Though it might look difficult and cumbersome to follow these rules of eating initially, believe me it is achievable. May be start doing it once a week…soon u will start doing it for 3 to 4 days a week. Even if u follow it 60% you will see so many changes in you. Proper digestion will automatically calm our mind. You will start feeling a lot better.