Food As Medicine
“When diet is wrong medicine is of no use. When diet is correct medicine is of no need.”
Ayurveda is all about self knowledge and self discovery. It is about being an active participant in finding out what foods and lifestyle choices can help to support you in feeling healthy and alive. Ayurvedic Nutrition focuses on using the qualities of foods to balance the qualities of the external (the weather) and internal (within you) enviroments with the understanding that like increases like and opposites balance. For example, on a cold winter day it would be more balancing to have a bowl of nice warm soup than a bowl of ice cream… So this is a pretty common sense approach.
There are dosha quizes and food lists that can help to guide you in choosing appropriate foods for your constitution, however each person is a unique individual with constantly changing needs. So instead of labeling a food as “good” or “bad” it may be more helpful to bring some awareness to meal times as a way to see what is truly working for you. Ideally after a meal you will feel light and energized with a clear, alert, attentive mind. Signs of indigestion may include a feeling of heaviness after eating, gas, bloating, heartburn, feeling tired and a dull, unfocused mind. It can be difficult to make changes in our fast paced society with so much confusion about what to eat and what not to eat, so to begin just take a moment to notice… What did I eat? When? How did that make me feel physically and emotionally? And how well did I digest?
It is a process, it doesn’t have to be perfect, or stressful… But it can change your life to eat a nourishing diet that is just right for you. We become what we eat on a cellular level. This can either support illness and the road to dis-ease in body and mind, or support health, longevity and vitality. It is that simple.
Also important is the way the meal is approached, some things to consider-
: eat only when truly hungry, bring attention to overeating or emotional eating
:support the agni (digestive fire) by allowing plenty of time between meals to digest as well as avoiding iced cold drinks especially with meals (too much liquid or cold can weaken the digestive enzymes in the stomach, leading to indigestion)
:try to have a regular routine around meal times
:cook your meals at home whenever possible and choose the highest quality ingredients available to you
:eat seasonally and locally grown food as Nature is providing just what we need
:try not to cook or eat when emotionally aggravated… putting negative energy into the food… make the meal with love (it tastes much better that way!)
:as much as possible, sit down in a relaxed and peaceful environment to enjoy your meal (as opposed to eating on the go)
:light a candle on the table (traditionally in Ayurveda this is a way to honor the god of fire “Agni” )
:take 3 deep breaths before you begin to eat, maybe taking a moment to give gratitude for your food
:eat slowly and enjoy the taste, texture and effect of the food
:chew your food well to support digestion in your stomach (pieces of food that are too big are more taxing on the digestive organs and
can lead to malabsorption)
:take a siesta when you’re done… lie on your left side for 10-15 minutes after eating to encourage the “rest and digest” mode instead of
the “fight or flight” response our bodies are often chronically held in
:and enjoy some digestive tea…
mix 1 tsp each of cumin, coriander and fennel seeds
with 1 quart of water
bring to a boil for 10 minutes
strain and sweeten as desired
Ayurvedic medicine states that “every food can heal and every food can harm.” What matters most is bringing awareness, consciousness and wisdom to our daily choices. Enjoy the foods you love if they are helping you to feel balanced and vibrant, and if you find yourself feeling unbalanced or unwell open up to the possibilities of healing with food!