These simple food tips look at how to eat beneficially. They can serve as a guide to help you to get the best out of the food you eat.
You are food. How we eat food is as important as what we eat. Food is about creating and maintaining your body, and the best way to decide what to eat is to ask the body. Rather than developing repetitive meal habits which only make us function repetitively, it is better to decide on our food consciously through our intelligence. There are no good food habits. Food is not a habit, it is a celebration.
To maintain a balanced diet you do not need to get caught up in the confusing maze of vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, protein supplements, antioxidants and so on. Just include enough vegetables, lentils, pulses and multiple types of grains, which are a few basics that will help you maintain a balanced diet. Being on a single-cereal diet, such as only rice or only wheat (bread) can definitely cause health problems. It is important to bring in a multigrain diet into your life.
Traditionally, people ate a variety of grams, pulses, legumes and many kinds of grains. But slowly these have gone away, and if you look at your plate today, there may be so much of one thing, and just a little bit of vegetable. The shift to a high carbohydrate diet that has happened in the last twenty-five or thirty years needs to be reversed because a person’s long-term health will be seriously affected if they just eat lots of carbohydrate and very little of other things. This is a basic conceptual change which needs to happen in people’s minds. The majority of the diet should not be rice, pasta or bread but all the other things. The cereal is your choice and needs to be decided according to your hunger levels.
Seasonal Eating: The Right Food for the Right Time
You are food. The food you eat becomes your body. In traditional cultures, the practice of eating different foods in different seasons helps the body cope with changing weather.
In India and especially in South India, during summer, the food is cooked in one way, during the rainy season in another way and in winter another way, according to the vegetables available at that time and what is suitable for the body. It is valuable to bring in that wisdom and eat as per the needs of the body and according to the season, weather and climate.
For example, in winter, certain foods will produce heat in the body such as sesame and wheat. The climate becomes cold, and people in traditional cultures do not use creams and similar external substances, however, everyone ate sesame on a daily basis. It keeps the body warm and the skin clean. With lots of heat in the body your skin won’t dry out, wrinkle and crack. In summer the body gets hot. Thus, cooling foods must be eaten. For example, in Tamil Nadu, they eat kambu (pearl millet). These things were fixed so that the body is able to adjust itself for that season.
After a meal, give a break of at least two hours before going to bed. Digestion raises your metabolic activity. If you sleep in such a state, you will neither sleep well nor digest well. Depending upon what you ate, a large portion of the food can go undigested if you sleep immediately after eating.
Some yoga gurus teach that a morsel of food must be chewed twenty-four times. There is a lot of science to validate this, but essentially, your food gets pre-digested in your mouth and will not cause dullness in your system. Another thing is, if you chew twenty-four times, the information of that food gets established in your system and every cell in your body will be able to start judging as to what is beneficial and not harmful for you, not just in terms of the tongue, but about what is appropriate for your whole system. If you do this for a while, every cell in the body will have the education as to what it needs and what is non beneficial.
It is also advisable to avoid drinking water during meals. Drink a little water a few minutes before the meal or thirty to forty minutes after the meal. Drinking water can be left standing overnight in a copper vessel. This destroys bacteria, and energises the water powerfully. Copper surfaces tested in hospital Intensive Care Units (ICUs) have been found to kill 97% of the bacteria that are capable of causing hospital-acquired infections.
Big meals are not always better meals. Studies show that the human brain works best when the stomach is empty, which is why it is important to eat the right sized meals. Research has found that an empty stomach produces ghrelin, a hormone that carries the message to the brain that the stomach is hungry. The interesting thing is that this hormone seems to perform other functions as well. Ghrelin stimulates and heightens the performance of the hippocampus, the region in the brain that handles learning, memory and spatial analysis, keeping us alert, active and focused. This doesn’t imply that we should never eat, but rather points to the fact that we must be conscious of how much we eat. We can get the best out of our day by optimising our consumption of food.
If you are below thirty years of age, three meals a day will fit well into your life. If you are over thirty, it is best to reduce it to two meals a day. Your body and brain work at their best when the stomach is not filled. So, do not eat all through the day. Be mindful and eat in such a way that within two-and-a-half hours, the food moves out of your stomach bag, and within twelve to eighteen hours, it is completely out of your system. If you maintain this simple practice, you will experience much more energy, agility and alertness.
Shanti Gowans is the globally recognised author and founder of Shanti Yoga™, Meditation and Ayurveda for the self, family and community.
Shantiji has brought the concepts and practices of a healthy body and a still mind to thousands of Australians through her Yoga and Meditation programs on national television... Read more about Shantiji's biography
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