Uncle Ayurveda on Eating Well
Author: Shubhra Krishan
Uncle Ayurveda is very very old. At least 5000 years old. Perhaps much more. But is he all shriveled up and spent? No way! He’s never felt better, thank you. In fact, every year, he feels younger and more sprightly.
What’s his secret?
Uncle Ayurveda smiles. “You can do it too, he says, taking a deep, contented breath.“ Let me give you the bad news and the good news on how to live long and feel young,” he says.
First, the bad news:
Uncle Ayurveda believes your health is your own responsibility: you become what you eat, think and do.
The good news:
Uncle Ayurveda also believes it’s in your power to eat, think and do what you want to become.
More good news:
Becoming a healthy and happy person the Uncle Ayurveda way is not a tall order if you follow a practical common-sense approach to life.
How do you do that?
Uncle Ayurveda says a little care and attention goes a long, long way. Before you plunge your fork into that pizza, ask yourself some questions:
1 Am I hungry? if the honest answer is No, put the fork down. Because it’s not your body that craves the pizza: it’s the mind. Why is this happeneing to you? Renowned vaidya Rmakant Mishra, Director of Product Research and Development at Maharishi Ayurveda in Colorado Springs, explains that Uncle Ayurveda has an interesting theory on this. He says carvings for not-so-beneficial foods are a mistake of the intellect. In Sanskrit language, it’s called “pragya aparadh”—mistake of the intellect. Your carvings, says he, show that your mind and your body are not working in harmony. How to get them to fall in step? Try to bring everything around you in harmony. Inspect the causes of discored and stress in your daily life, and one by one, take steps to remove them. You’ll learn more on this as we talk.
2. Are those chilli flakes good for me?: You know what—they just might be! If you’re a kapha type of person, that is. Don’t let that word “kapha” confuse you. It just means if you’re prone to be slow and soft or feel the cold more than others. Then, yes, chillies and other hot spices could actually be good for you. But hey, if you have trouble keeping your temper, and are prone to digestive problems or suffer rashes, that packet of chilli flakes is best unopened. For Uncle Ayurveda diagnoses you as a Pitta type of person. Now how do you tell what kind you really are? To begin with, just try develop a feel for the way different foods feel to your body: dry, oily, heavy, light, dull or intense. Simply take what you need and leave out what doesn’t suit your prakriti or constitution. If you find this working for you, fix an appointment with a good vaidya and have him take your pulse. He’ll be able to tell you what exactly your body type is: Vata, Pitta or Kapha. Usually, all human beings are a combination of two or more doshas. Based on his findings, he’ll advise you on your ideal diet.
3. Am I tearing through this meal? For heaven’s sake, why? What on earth could be more important than giving your body time to imbibe and enjoy the gift of a meal? Uncle Ayurveda does not approve. For 5000 years now, he’s been insisting you say grace before your meals, and eat them with reverence and attention. The French do just that, and though they eat four times as much butter as Americans, fewer Frenchmen have heart attacks. The key is to prepare your food with love and eat it at leisure.
4. When was the last time I had a flower on my dining table? Surely, you might ask, what has that really got to do with eating well? Uncle Ayurveda smiles. Remember, he admonishes-- everything around you affects the way you feel: the color of your clothes, the temperature of the room, the words you hear, the scent of the air. So try to make your surroundings as harmonious as you can. One great way to do this is to get close to Nature: watch the stars, grow organic fruits and vegetables in your backyard. If your job tires you in body and in mind, quit. Mend a troubled relationship with the glue of unconditional love. If you’re stressed out, meditate. Always and always, follow your heart.
Each time you put food into your mouth, you are also nurturing your mind and your spirits. That is why, he says, keeping those flowers on your dining table can make all the difference. Make your food visually rich. Eat with love. Food eaten when you are angry or upset will not be digested properly. And you don’t want that, do you?
Don’t eat too much: this one is simple: it’s your intellect making a mistake once again. But slowly, once you start feeling more balanced inside and out, you’ll be able to resist that unnecessary second helping. After all, the body doesn’t have any use for all that extra food. So it will just turn it into undigested toxic matter which Uncle Ayurveda likes to call ama.
Don’t disturb your body’s natural rhythm: Don’t subject your body to vigorous exercise soon after eating, or you’ll direct the blood supply from your gut to the muscles: A sure way to produce ama. A gentle walk, on the other hand, will aid good digestion. Just good old common-sense, but Uncle Ayurveda finds too many people need to be reminded.
Load up on light foods: it’s really simple. The lighter the food, the easier it is to digest. In the West, salads are considered light, but Uncle Ayurveda believes raw foods are actually more difficult to digest than lightly cooked ones. Rice and potatoes are light, while beans and meat are heavy. Light vegetarian meals are considered sattvic, that is, promoting equilibrium.
Don’t eat foods that fight: Uncle Ayurveda does not recommend combining raw foods with cooked, excpet in very small quantities The reason is, they require different types of “agni” or digestive fires to be properly assimilated. Also, vaidyas (Ayurvedic physicians) advise against combining milk with radishes, tomatoes, meats and citrus fruits.
Get the six basic tastes on your plate: sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, astringent. Try to think up a daily menu that gives you a little bit of all these flavors. That, Uncle Ayurveda says, is an excellent way to get a nurturing, satisfying diet. Bonus: you’ll stop craving for junk food if you’re getting a variety of flavors on your plate.
So digest this menu for long life from Uncle Ayurveda, let it add goodness to your plate and years to your life! Bon Appetit!
NOTE: Information presented in this article is solely for the purpose of imparting education on Ayurveda and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or mitigate any disease. If you have a medical condition, please consult a health professional.
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