3 ways to improve digestion
Do you experience symptoms such as gas, bloating, belching, or heartburn after eating? Do you experience occasional constipation, diarrhea or upset stomach?
For many of us, we have taken these symptoms to be ordinary, regular side effects of eating. However, we truly should have no symptoms or side effects after eating. When the body does produce conditions such as gas or bloating, it is a sign that either we are eating something or in some way that does not agree with our body. According to Ayurveda, all disease originates in the digestive system. This is why it is so important to understand some of the Ayurvedic principles around cooking and eating.
But before looking at some of these principles in more detail, let’s first think about the fire behind our digestion. Within each of us, we have a digestive fire, and this fire burns a bit differently depending on the conditions within the body and what fuel—food and drinks—we add to the fire! When this fire is burning at a healthy rate, we have little to no digestive symptoms. For many of us, the fire tends to be a bit weak. This is due to a variety of factors, but mainly because the food we intake—again, the fuel we are adding to the fire—is hard to digest or it weakens the fire because of its qualities. We also tend to add cold foods and beverages to the fire, which, as you can imagine, will weaken the fire as well. For others of us, the fire is burning too strongly. What this means is that the food we intake burns up so quickly that it is hard for the body to do its job and absorb the needed nutrients from the food.
Easy to implement Ayurvedic principles around food:
Chew your food! This is one of the most important steps you can take on the road to healthy digestion. The stomach has no teeth, so the mouth is the only place that chewing can take place. When food is not well chewed, it is not well digested. An easy approach is to practice placing your utensil down on the plate between meals, and chew food until it is of a mushy, almost liquid consistency.
Eat 3 meals a day. For the majority of us, we need to be eating 3 meals a day. And yes, this includes breakfast! Importantly, we should really only be eating these 3 meals a day and not be snacking in between meals. The best approach is to try and eat your 3 meals a day at a consistent time each day. This helps the body to get into a routine and know when to start preparing for digestion.
Heaviest meal at lunch. In the morning, our digestive fire is not that strong, so our breakfast should be nourishing, but not overly heavy. It should also be foods that are easy to digest. This would include fruit or some time of grain porridge or oatmeal with spicing. (Note, fruits should be eaten on their own for optimal digestion. This means no fruit in your oatmeal!) Eggs tend to be difficult to digest, so the occasional egg is fine, but should not be eaten regularly. Our digestive fire is the strongest at lunch, so this should be the heaviest meal. It doesn’t need to be the largest meal in terms of quantity—lunch and dinner should be about the same size—but you will want to eat heavier foods that may require more effort to digest at lunch.
Do you want to learn more about Ayurvedic cooking? Join us in Tulum, Mexico from January 15th-21st, 2018 on an Ayurveda and Meditation retreat where all meals will be Ayurvedic and you will get a chance to learn more about this powerful, healing science.