Most diseases begin with improper digestion. Agni, the digestive fire, is essential for health. Impaired digestion causes poor circulation, bad complexion, gas, constipation, low energy, offensive body odor, allergies and breakdown of the immune system. Heavy feeling in the stomach, acid reflux, constipation, diarrhea, a sleepy feeling after eating, flatulence are all signs of sub-optimum digestion.
1. Eat at the Same Time Everyday
Our bodies like routine. Our bodies marshal whatever is necessary, enzymes, hydrochloric acid etc. to digest a meal as the time approaches.
2. Have the Biggest Meal Midday
Our digestive fire is strongest when the sun is highest in the sky. Scientists are beginning to understand the complexity of our chronobiology. Before noon, the digestive capacity has not reached its peak. The morning meal should be smaller and lighter than the midday meal. However, someone who does heavy work may need more food than more sedentary people. The evening meal should take place at least two to three hours before bedtime to ensure that your body can do its nighttime work of repair rather than be diverted to digestion.
3. Eat only to 75-80% Capacity
The ancient texts say that half of the stomach should be filled with food and half of that for water, leaving one fourth empty for air. Another guideline is two anjali; anjali being a handful. What you hold in your cupped hands should be a good amount for a meal.
4. Follow Food Combining Rules
Simply, flesh foods should never be eaten with milk or grains (no meat sandwiches). Fresh fruit should be eaten with no other food. It is also best to eat one kind of fruit rather than mixed fruits. Fruit digests quickly, however, so it can be a pre-meal or meal in itself for breakfast or dinner. After an hour, an apple or banana will have left the stomach. Vegetables and grains combine well. Incompatible foods are likely to ferment, causing gas and bloating, or result in the creation of ama, the toxic byproduct of incomplete digestion. Cooking foods together in one pot increases compatibility because they work out their differences in the pot before they reach the stomach.
5. Food Should Be Warm and Well-Cooked
Raw food is much harder to digest than warm, cooked food. Sipping warm water throughout the day is also an aid to good digestion.
6. Eat Only When Hungry
Without planning and preparation of regular meals, mindless eating can wreak havoc on our digestion system. Ever been stressed and eaten an entire pint of ice cream or bag of potato chips? Dr. Lad always said to determine false hunger from real hunger, drink a glass of water and go for a walk. If you are still hungry after the walk, you should eat something. Mindful eating is another topic worthy of its own blog.
7. Be Aware of Food Sensitivities
The prevalence of refined foods, preservatives, additives, sugar, pesticides and herbicides has likely contributed to the increasing numbers of people suffering from food sensitivities. Our genetics also has something to do with what foods we do best with. Mindful eating means paying close attention to what foods make us feel satisfied, nourished, light and energetic.
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