As a Nutritional Therapist I am commonly approached with many different ailments and questions about very specific health issues. My first step is to point to the basic principles of good eating.
Food has an immediate effect on the body, the body’s biochemistry changes within minutes of eating a meal. This can be affected by not only our food, but the environment when eating.
During a meal the body can react in either a positive way leading to optimum absorption of nutrients, more energy and a sense of relaxation & satisfaction. However, if you eat something that is difficult for the body to process (like non-organic, manufactured food) or you’re stressed when eating (or both!) your body can react by showing distress signals; heartburn, tiredness or indigestion. Consistent inadequate digestion can lead to fermentation in the gut which can cause inflammation and disease.
Overall what we need from our food is to gain energy to help us function and carry out the everyday activities we want to do. However modern lifestyles have been more demanding on the body and expecting it to perform miracles without the magic. Think about how you might feel after eating a ham sandwich on-the-go, while downing a cup of tea, compared to sitting down to eat a healthy balanced meal in a calm environment –good habits make a positive difference, on our energy levels, our mood and therefore our overall health.
Here are some common guidelines about healthy eating based on Ayurvedic principles. It can most definitely be hard to put them all into practice (especially when you have a small baby like myself!), but take note and do what you can.
- Chew your food thoroughly -the digestive process starts in the mouth.
- Eat in a settled environment and quiet atmosphere, with a settled mind. Your company and environment should be pleasant. Do not work, listen to music, read or watch TV during meals.
- Always sit down to eat. Eat at roughly the same time each day.
- Eat neither too quickly or too slowly (about 20 minutes) and without interruption.
- Eat to about 3/4 of your stomach capacity at your biggest meal; this equals the amount of your two cupped hands full.
- Do not eat or drink an excessive amount of cold drinks or food.
- If you desire to drink anything with your meals, it is best to sip a little warm water. Also avoid drinking large quantities of liquids right before and within the first 2 hours after meals.
- To meet the minimum requirements for water, drink 6-8 glasses of water (at room temperature or warm) each day. You may need to increase the amount during hot, dry weather, when exercising or during stressful times in your life. If the colour of your urine is dark yellow, drink more water, if colourless drink less. Do not drink excessive amounts (3-4 litres a day)
- It is best not to heat or cook with honey; heat destroys it and makes it toxic.
- It is best not to eat when the mind is dominated by strong emotions such as anger, worry or sorrow. Wait until it has become more settled, since the digestive system does not work under stress.
- Sleeping after meals causes sluggishness and increases bodyweight. However, it is good to rest for about 10 minutes after meals and, if possible, to go for a 10 – 15 minute walk.
- Never eat just before going to bed. To avoid developing sleeping disorders, there should be at least three hours between eating and sleeping. If your bedtime is 10pm, eat no later than 6pm.
And most importantly go into the kitchen with positive intentions and you’ll be more likely to get positive results.
Blog inspired by Andreas Moritz