In Ayurveda, the body is seen as a single integrated system in which all the parts work in tandem to create balance and health. The body’s ability to heal itself is its most significant quality, with healing defined as the process of the body returning to its natural functions. According to Ayurveda, the smooth operation of these functions forms the pillars of good health: effortless menstruation, regular elimination, restful sleep, and strong digestion.
Digestion plays a crucial role in healing, because our physiology depends on digestion for constant renewal. A holistic interpretation of digestion is to see it as the means of extracting intelligence from food and then processing it in a way that supports the inherent wisdom of the body as a whole.
Try these Ayurvedic tips to help ensure that your digestion is comfortable and efficient.
1. Eat in a settled and quiet atmosphere.
Try to set everything else aside at mealtimes to allow your body to concentrate on eating and digesting. When you put your attention solely on your meal, you are able to savor all the flavors with discernment.
2. Take a few minutes to rest quietly after your meal.
When you are finished eating, relaxing kick-starts the digestive process in an effortless way. A sense of calm before, during, and after mealtimes can be a major benefit to digestion and general health.
3. Always sit down to eat.
Sitting down relaxes the digestive tract, focuses awareness on the act of eating, and enhances your enjoyment of food.
4. Don’t eat when you’re upset.
Eating when you are emotionally unsettled can trigger gastrointestinal discomfort. If you’re upset at mealtimes, postpone eating until you feel more composed.
5. Avoid overeating.
Ayurveda suggests we eat only to about three-fourths of our actual capacity. Eating beyond this point doesn’t allow the stomach to function properly.
6. Avoid cold foods and iced drinks.
Cold foods and drinks put out the digestive fire, inhibit our digestive enzymes, and numb our taste buds.
7. Don’t talk while chewing your food.
The acts of chewing and swallowing are what really allows us to deeply extract the flavor of our food. Talking while there is food in your mouth distracts you from what you are tasting.
8. Eat at a moderate pace.
This means eating neither too quickly nor too slowly. Getting into the habit of putting your fork or spoon down between bites helps set a steady pace.
9. Don’t eat until your previous meal has been digested.
Eating only when your stomach is calling for more requires a high level of body consciousness. For most people, complete digestion takes from three to six hours. If you have to snack, keep it simple—a piece of fruit or a warm beverage.
10. Favor meals made with freshly cooked foods.
Fresh foods are intelligent foods and contain the greatest life force. A delicious, freshly prepared meal stimulates the appetite and gets the secretion of digestive enzymes going even before you start to eat.