At the simplest level, eating should make you happy and leave you nourished and satisfied. Ayurveda, or "knowledge of life" — see my last blog entry for full details — says that we should eat until the stomach is half-full of food and one quarter-full of water, with the reminder left for digestive energy to circulate. We should also start to think more about what and how we eat and how we feel as we are eating.
"The life of all living beings is based on food, and all the world seeks food. Complexion, clarity, good voice, long life, understanding, happiness, satisfaction, strength and intelligence all come from food." — Charaka Samhita, a Sanskrit text on Ayurveda
There are two main concepts in Ayurveda - prana and agni — the life force and digestive fire. How we eat is essential for good health and Ayurveda offers us a way of understanding why.
Ayurveda prescribes a healthy diet and a way of eating that aids digestion. The book 'A Pukka Life' by Sebastian Pole gives an easy-to-understand list of advice on how we should eat. See if you follow the golden rules for healthy digestion!
- Before you eat anything, make sure you are calm. If you are stressed, depressed, angry or rushed it is better not to eat, or only very lightly.
- Don't eat while standing up or walking.
- Try and eat in a peaceful place — your food will taste better and digestion will be improved.
- Start each meal with something a little spicy to stimulate your digestion.
- Chew your food properly to ensure that your digestive enzymes get to work in the mouth and make it easier on the rest of your digestive system.
- Sip warm water with each meal but don't drink lots of fluids until at least an hour after finishing your food, as this can extinguish your digestive fire.
- Be aware of how your digestion is feeling before and during each meal.
What’s that you say? Me? How many of those rules do I follow? Well, let’s just say that my worst fault is eating while I’m standing up or walking. I even get annoyed with myself for doing it!!
Come back next time, when I’ll talk about the six tastes of Ayurveda, what each taste does for you and how you should balance your diet. And have a great weekend.