Ayurveda is the “science of life.” From this we can interpret Ayurveda as finding what supports our life in a meaningful way for optimal health and wellbeing.
Following habits from Ayurveda for eating follow the “you are what you eat” adage. If you’re eating dense, heavy foods, you will start to feel dens and heavy. If you are eating foods that are hot and light, you will start to feel hot and light. The one most important thing for eating with an Ayurveda in mind, is to choose foods that make you feel good.
Here are a few simple tips to get you started.
- Start your day with warm water
Consuming 8 oz of room temperature or warm eater first thing in the morning is a great way to get the gastro-intestinal system moving. It may help stimulate a bowel movement in the morning (you need to have at least one bowel movement every day or you are constipated), gets you hydrated first thing, and helps jumpstart your metabolism.
- Make lunch your largest meal
Many people are wary of making lunch their largest meal for a multitude of reasons like work, or family, or feelings of fatigue after. Making lunch the largest meal of the day doesn’t mean it has to be the fanciest or to over eat. It simply means to make it large enough to feel satiated and to eat foods that are nutrient dense. You should still have dinner with your family, or go to your fave restaurant, but keep dinner on the small side. Super come from supplemental, in case you didn’t eat enough during the day. If you know you’re going out to dinner or are planning a large dinner, keep lunch on the smaller side to compensate for the larger meal. Additionally, metabolism is higher during the day because you are more active than at night, so you are more likely to assimilate the foods you eat.
- Eat with intention
Someone wise in the field of Ayurveda once said, “when you eat standing, you eat with death looking over your shoulder.” When you eat, it is important to give yourself the time and space to enjoy your food. Eating while on the go, standing, watching TV, or any numerous things reduces the body’s ability to fully digest and assimilate the food you are consuming. That said, sometimes you just have to eat an apple while you’re walking from your car to your office, or whatever. It’s fine, do your best! Avoid eating and driving at all possible times, keep those hand on the wheel! Take time to enjoy your meal, take it all in, the colors, aromas, tastes, and any sounds, and bonus if you’re eating with your hands. Offer a simple statement of gratitude for the food you are consuming. Eat slowly, fully chew each bite of food before swallowing.
- Eat until satisfied, not full
If you are eating mindfully, you will notice when you are satisfied. When you have had enough to support you. This means there is still space in your stomach for the churning process to occur. If you eat until you are full, it takes longer and is more difficult for the stomach to churn and break up the food you ate. Think about a time when you’ve had a heavy feeling in your stomach. It’s difficult for your stomach to break that all down.
- Eat foods that don’t make you feel bad
If you know certain foods give you gas, cause congestion, or generally make you feel blah, avoid them as much as possible. Remember the 80/20 rule, if you know it makes you feel ick but you enjoy it, reduce don’t eliminate.
- Reduce processed foods as much as possible
Now, cooking isn’t everyone’s jam. Do you what works for you. Buy flash frozen foods, hit up the fresh bar at your local market, many grocery stores have pre-chopped fresh veggies.
- Get all six tastes in every meal to reduce cravings
The best way to get all six tastes in every meal is to use spices and herbs and to eat a variety of foods. The six tastes are:
- Sweet – Dairy, meat (avoid late in the day), grains, most fruits, some veggies
- Sour – Citrus, vinegar, sauerkraut, yogurt
- Salty – Salt, celery, seaweed
- Bitter – Sesame seeds, leafy greens, Jerusalem artichoke
- Astringent – Apples, pomegranate, alfalfa sprouts, avocado, cauliflower
- Pungent – Garlic, onion, chilis
- Be mindful about snacks
Sometimes you are just hungry between meals, and at some points in life, we need snacks, like during pregnancy. This isn’t a “don’t snack!” tirade. However, if you are a snacker, you might consider why you are hungry between meals. Are you getting enough nutrients from your food, are you eating enough food, are you assimilating your food? See above about the six tastes. If you legit are hungry, eat something that is easily digestible, and do your best to have snacks 3-4 hours after a meal, and/or one hour before a meal to make sure your stomach can effectively do its job and not spoil your appetite. You should be hungry when you eat your meals.
- Avoid ice cold drinks with meals
The stomach fills with hydrochloric acid, in Ayurveda this is our digestive fire, when we eat to help break down the food into chyme to be released into the small intestine where vitamins and minerals can be assimilated by the body. Pouring cold water on your digestive fire will dampen it’s ability to fully break down the food you eat. If you love cold drinks, no worries, enjoy them at other times of the day.
- Stop eating 2-3 hours, or more, before bed
When you eat your body temperature rises 2-4 degrees to help your metabolism start up. When you go to sleep, your body temperature drops 2-4 degrees so you stay asleep and for critical physiological functions to occur while you are sleeping. If your body is metabolizing food when you go to bed, your body temperature will likely not drop sufficiently to support your sleep process. If you feel you need a snack before bed, consider an herbal tea or warm milk (non-dairy is fine but doesn’t have tryptophan to help aid in the sleep process).
- Start your day with warm water
This all said, you should eat if you are hungry. Be mindful why you are hungry, see questions to consider above about snacks.
All content in this post is for educational purposes only and is not meant to be nutrition or medical advice, nor as a cure for or diagnosis of any medical condition. Please always consult a registered dietician seeking weight loss assistance or a medical professional for an illness or injury.