Eating the Ayurvedic Way: 7 Tips for Good Digestion
Do you suffer from everyday digestion problems: gas, bloating, stomach discomfort, occasional constipation, occasional heartburn, or fatigue after eating? A simple solution to these common complaints is to consider not only what we eat but how we eat.
Stop multitasking meals.
We’ve all seen, or maybe even been, the person multitasking our meal — eating lunch while driving through traffic or catching a bite to eat at our desk because we could not take the time to have a proper lunch. Our bodies need an uplifting and settled environment in order to process and absorb the nutrients from our meals. If that is not available, then we should at least be sitting down to eat — not standing, walking, or driving our way through a meal!
Enjoy the act of eating.
The act of eating is life-giving. The process of eating, according to ayurveda, is important for the development of consciousness as well as our physical health. When we sit down to eat, our stomach is in a relaxed posture and our awareness is on the taste, texture, and smell of the food. This will greatly improve our digestion.
Stimulate the digestive fire.
Improve digestion by stimulating the agni, or digestive fire, before we begin eating. Weak digestive agni may result in fatigue after eating, so ayurveda recommends eating a one-inch piece of fresh ginger with a few drops of lemon juice and a few pinches of salt on it before a full meal. This starts to activate the salivary glands, producing the necessary enzymes so that nutrients from food are easily absorbed by our body. Maintain healthy, strong digestion by adding Ginger as an herbal supplement.
Balancing agni, the digestive fire, is key in ayurveda. If the flame is very low, it will take a long time to cook the food. In the same way, if the fire is too big, it can burn the food. If we put a huge log on a low fire, it will extinguish it. Our digestive fire should be balanced so that we can digest our meals efficiently and smoothly.
Avoid cold drinks at meals and ice-cold foods in general.
This is like putting cold water on the burning logs. Iced water, normally served at restaurants, extinguishes the digestive fire. Even juice or milk right out of the refrigerator is too cold for the digestion. Juice should be taken at room temperature and water without ice.
Recommendations for creating balanced digestion may vary, depending on your specific dosha balance. For example, stomach acidity may require different ayurvedic recommendations than for occasional bloating or sluggish digestion.
Once you get into this habit of drinking beverages at room temperature, you will notice a dramatic improvement in your digestion and the way your body feels while eating and after the meal. Cold drinks and foods mixed with warm, cooked foods can cause stomach cramps, bloating and general discomfort in the stomach area. If you have a Pitta imbalance, you can take cool drinks in between meals. Cold or frozen foods are not recommended for Pitta either because, even though they may temporarily cool down the heat, the agni is still being overstimulated and the imbalance will continue.
Eat meals aligned with nature’s rhythm.
Have you ever gone out for a late dinner and found that it was a strain to wake up the next morning, or that it was difficult to be efficient during the following day? These are often the side effects of improperly-digested food. The best way to avoid these problems is to follow nature's rhythm of suitable times to eat. When the sun is strongest, between 12 and 2 p.m., is when the digestive fire is also strongest. Agni is associated with the sun, and we know through ayurveda that our mind and body are connected to the environment in which we live.
Lunch should be the largest meal of the day, since that is the time the digestive agni is working at its maximum potency. As the sun goes down, so does our agni. Dinner should be lighter than lunch, and should ideally be eaten before 8:00 p.m. Late-night meals interfere with sleep, and after 10:00 p.m. the body is working to burn off toxins and continue to digest food from the day. If you eat after 10:00 p.m., the food may cause toxins to accumulate in the system, and as a result the next day you wake up tired.
If you are not able to wake up fresh and clear, then it is important to analyze the quantity of food and the time of night you are eating dinner.
Drink a fresh yogurt lassi either during or after the meal. This drink consists of ¼ cup fresh homemade yogurt, 1 cup of purified room-temperature water and sugar to taste. Blend it for one minute in the blender. Lassi is light and contains necessary bacteria that lubricate the intestines to help digestion go smoothly. Lassi drinks help to reduce gas and bloating. They also taste delicious and can make a meal more satisfying and nutritious.
For more lassi recipes visit our Ayurvedic Recipes library.
Organic Digest Tone (Triphala Plus) is a powerful formulation that detoxifies the colon and aids in gentle elimination while increasing absorption of nutrients. For most people Triphala is a mild laxative, and for that reason it is excellent for clearing toxins from the digestive system. In very rare cases it has a stronger laxative effect, but usually it is an ideal bowel cleanser precisely because of its mildness. In moderate doses it is gentle, and detoxifies the body slowly. Because it is slow, you can take Organic Digest Tone for longer periods of time, and then it has a deeply purifying effect. It goes deep into the physiology and releases the toxins at a much deeper level.
For elimination, take one to three tablets with water, one hour before bedtime.
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.