Healthy Eating for Wealthy Living
Much attention is placed on the quantity of Macro and Micro Nutrients consumed in the diet.
Although this is important, and one should try and meet their body’s daily requirements of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals, it is as important, if not more important, to focus on the composition of the food according to the five elements. The five elements include; the dominant taste of the food, quality of the food, method of preparation, type of consumption (place, time and seasonal considerations) and the bodies ability to digest and assimilate the food product.
Without the appropriate application of these principles, proper metabolism of certain nutrients can be disturbed and instead of producing nutrients, you will in fact create toxins, which will be detrimental to your health. By eating incompatible food we affect our bodies’ own cellular intelligence by confusing the intelligence of our digestion. That is why we must eat with awareness and be attentive to the food we place in our mouths.
Food is the Prana (life force) of all beings, it can act as either medicine and add to our health, or it can act as poison and be the root cause of our illness. Therefore, selecting the right food becomes an art. This art lies in the understanding of the qualities of food and the application of this knowledge to the foods you are going to eat. A balanced and nutritive diet should nourish the 3 bodily intelligences (Vata, Pitta, Kapha), the 7 tissues and elimination systems as well as produce energy needed for physical and mental functions.
Now, lets take a look at a few things you can do to ensure you are following a more balanced and nutritive diet.
A balanced diet is one that contains all six tastes at every meal; sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent. This can pose as a difficult task in our busy lives, so if we can’t add it to each meal, then at least receiving the tastes throughout the entire day would be a great start. A great way to achieve this is to buy a churna that contains all the 6 tastes so you can simply add it in when you are cooking or adding a little sprinkle to your meals.
Agni (Digestive Capacity)
Food is not good, unless it can be metabolized properly. One should make sure their digestive system is able to process and metabolize the food products they ingest. If you have a weak digestion then avoid consuming heavy, cold, dense and uncooked foods. And if you have a very strong digestion and have a tendency towards reflux or heartburn then avoid overeating and consuming hot, acidic, pungent, fried and fermented foods.
Eating for Health
Always sit while eating, eat in a peaceful clean area, eat slowly and chew thoroughly to aid in digestion. Avoid excessive restaurant or fast food consumption. Don’t eat when you are angry, depressed or emotionally unstable or immediately after physical exertion as your digestive system is disturbed.
Quality & Quantity of Food
One should try to eat fresh, whole and cooked foods as frequently as possible. Purchasing and cooking your own food is the best way to achieve this so you know the source, ingredients and preparation of the food. The quantity of food you should consume is largely subjective. In general though, fill the stomach to ½ full with any solid food, ¼ with liquids, and leave ¼ of stomach empty to allow the nutrients to mix with the digestive juices.
Avoid food articles that are known to be wrongly prepared (e.g. honey must never be heated or cooked because the honey becomes like glue in the digestive tract producing toxins in the body). Avoid overcooked, undercooked, unpleasant tasting, unripe, over ripe, putrefied, stale food and fried food, which aggravates all of the doshas.
Consumption of food should always favor sattvic (pure) qualities in the mind. Food like grains, fruits, some vegetables and dairy products with sweet taste promote sattva. Eating habits also affect digestive capability (e.g. if you always eat cooked food, consuming raw food will be a bit difficult). Some habits are good. Regular use of rice, wheat, barley, mung bean, daikon, radish, ginger, onions, grapes, pomegranates, butter milk or churned yoghurt, ghee, rock salt and pure water are good for anyone whose constitution permits them.
Incompatible Food Combinations
Combining foods improperly can produce indigestion, fermentation, petrification and gas formation.
Some basic concepts of food combing are:
- Avoid taking milk & yoghurt with sour fruits
- Avoid eating melons and grains together
- Honey should never be cooked
- Avoid eating fruits with potatoes or other starchy foods
- Don’t eat meat protein and milk protein together. Meat is heating and milk is cooling. They counteract one another to produce ama
- Milk and melon should not be eaten together
- Milk and bananas should not be eaten together. It can diminish agni, produce toxins and cause sinus congestions, colds, coughs and allergies
- Milk is incompatible with: fish, curd, meat, melons, sour fruits, kitchari, cherries and bread containing yeast
- Starch is incompatible with: eggs, chai, milk, bananas, dates and persimmons
- Honey is incompatible with: ghee (in equal proportions), heating/cooking
- Radishes are incompatible with: milk, bananas, raisins
- Yoghurt is incompatible with: milk, sour fruits, melons, hot drinks, meat, fish, mangoes, starch, cheese
- Eggs are incompatible with: milk, meat, yoghurt, melons, cheese, fish, bananas
- Mangoes are incompatible with: yoghurt, cheese, cucumber
- Lemon is incompatible with yoghurt, milk, cucumber and tomatoes
Diet & Lifestyle Planning
When planning a diet and lifestyle it is important to first consult with an Ayurvedic practitioner to get a deeper understanding of your constitution and your current state of health. This way you can ensure you are following the correct measures to bring you towards a state of balance and equilibrium.
The incorrect application of certain principles can pose as counter productive (e.g. if you know you are of a Vata-Pitta constitution but you are unaware that your Pitta is aggravated and you are consuming a Vata pacifying diet which can largely involve more heating substances then you will be causing more harm to yourself).
Be aware and attentive of your state of health and seek expert advice to help you achieve a balanced mental and physical state, proper functioning of the sense organs and a happy and cheerful nature. This way life is more easy and enjoyable.