Healing with Food
Food. The saying goes "We Are What We Eat"! The physical body in Sanskrit is called the "Annamaya Kosha", which means "comprised of food". We don't usually stop to think about this, but the food you eat today will eventually become your organs, skin and blood cells. Choosing the right foods is the absolute most important way to take care of yourself, it can become your medicine. Is your food undermining your health or improving it?
The foundation of Ayurveda is that we are energetic beings, uniquely comprised of the 5 elements (earth, fire, water, air and ether). But have you ever stopped to think that your food might be energetic too? It is and is also comprised of these elements! Everything you eat has a certain doshic effect. Never heard of the term dosha? You can learn more here. By eating foods that are balancing for your current doshic imbalance, we can cultivate health and happiness. Food has a definite connection to how we feel in our body, mind and spirit. I encourage you to become more aware of how food affects you, how you feel after you eat anything. Does it make you feel heavy or light? Do you experience heartburn, indigestion, or bloating after? Do you feel cold or hot? Do you feel loving, calm, patient, or anxious, angry, frustrated? There is much to say on this food topic, so I will try to summarize on a few things I have learnt.
1. Eat a light, easily digested breakfast. Your digestive fires need to be re-kindled in the morning and eating a heavy breakfast puts too much stress on your digestive system. You could end up feeling very tired for the rest of the day. Most mornings after I'm finished my self-care routines and hot water, I have a warm cooked apple that has been peeled. Optimally I would follow this with warm cooked grains like oats, quinoa, barley or whole grain crepes.
2. Limit snacking. Eat when actually hungry. This allows your fire (agni) to be rekindled so that your body is ready to properly digest and assimilate, any food we eat when our body isn't ready for it can become toxic in nature. For most people this means waiting at least 3 hours between meals.
3. Eat your biggest meal of the day at lunch. Your digestive fires are the strongest from approximately 10:00am - 2:00pm. (Pitta Time) This is the time to eat raw food.
4. Aim to have a light dinner and try not to eat anything after 7:00pm. Kapha time is 6:00pm - 10:00pm, and is when your body (including your digestion) is getting ready for sleep.
4. Taste is everything. There are six tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent. These tastes have an effect on your doshas, either increasing or decreasing. You need all six tastes to be balanced and healthy. If you would like to learn more about this please read here.
5. Spices are medicine. All spices and herbs have metabolic effects, which can greatly enhance the healing of your body. Spices start breaking down your food before they even enter your stomach, making the food more easily digestible.
6. Proper food combining is very important in Ayurveda. For example: it is believed that fruit should always be eaten on an empty stomach and never combined with dairy or meat.
7. Eat the freshest whole food possible. It is believed that food can keep it's life force energy for about 4 hours after it is cooked, after that the decline begins. Canned, packaged, frozen, leftovers, re-heated or microwaved, have little vitality to offer us. (In most cases, none at all!)
8. Cook and eat mindfully. As we grow in awareness, we realize that how we prepare and eat our meals can greatly enhance our spirituality and should be honoured. The energy we put into creating meals for our loved ones really does impact the quality of our food. Sitting down with family and friends, taking time to enjoy our food, has a huge impact on our overall health. It's all about slowing down to really absorb the good stuff!