One of my favorite things about Ayurveda is how simple and intuitive it becomes after a while. It isn’t about food lists, fad diets, or black and white thinking. It is about connecting to our body’s innate wisdom, connecting to our earth’s innate wisdom, and accessing the natural state of healing we are born with. Ayurveda is not about changing ourselves to be healthier, it is about reconnecting to our innate state of health.
One beautiful Ayurvedic concept I’ve come to deeply connect with around food is that HOW you eat is much more important than WHAT you eat. This goes against almost every new fad diet that’s popped up in the past few years.
Let’s look at this closer. While the quality of the food we eat is vitally important for bringing macro and micro nutrients in our bodies and avoiding toxicity, we can be eating the best, most pure and organic food while not actually absorbing or assimilating any nutrients from our food. This is due to our lack of healthy food habits that allow the body to actually turn on digestion, take in nutrients, and release waste products.
The following food habits are simply magical for increasing your body’s ability to start to HEAL from the inside out. It’s no secret that our gut and digestion plays a key role in maintaining the health of every system of the body, including our nervous system, endocrine system, and mind. When your digestion begins to balance, the chemical and probiotic factors that influence anxiety and depression can begin to shift profoundly.
Slow Down: We need to access our parasympathetic nervous system in order to digest. This is literally called the “rest and digest” response because when it’s engaged, our digestive system starts to turn on by secreting enzymes and engaging wave-like muscular contractions to move our food through (peristalsis). We can access this part of the nervous system through the simple act of slowing down. Take a few breaths before you enter meal time and feel your body. Chew your food until it is a soupy consistency. Taste your food as you eat. Take your time. Avoid eating while you are driving, working, watching TV, or standing up. Allow your meal times to become like a meditation. You could light a candle, find your favorite bowl or plate, and say a prayer of gratitude before sitting down to eat.
Listen for the Burp! This one may feel a little silly, but let me explain. Your stomach is only able to fully churn and break down your food when you give it ample space to do so. When you eat until your entire stomach is full, your stomach begins to stretch out and have a much harder time churning food so it can mix with stomach acid and fully break down. In Ayurveda, it’s said that we should eat until our stomach is about ⅔ of the way full. But how do we actually know when that’s occurred? Your stomach will actually send you a small signal when you’ve reached ⅔ full via a small, subtle burp of gas up the esophagus. It may come on earlier in the meal than you’d like. Listen for the burp and give yourself a 10 - 15 minute break from eating once it arrives to see if you are actually still hungry. We often eat much bigger serving sizes than our bodies actually need!
Just Food, No Water: Do your best to avoid drinking during or right before meals, especially iced water. This is said to affect our digestive system’s ability to fully digest foods. Let your meals be soupy and moist so you can intake your fluids through your meal. Drink warm lemon water between meals.
If you feel comfortable sharing your thoughts, please leave a comment below or if you know someone who might benefit please feel free to do so also.
If you’d like to experience this practice and process directly, I hope you join me for my Goddess Retreat in Panama this 10 - 16 November 2019.