As I am preparing a small presentation on Ayurvedic nutrition for my local Satsang, my yoga community meet-up, it dawns on me again how vast Ayurveda is and how much there is to share if I want to do it right. But top of the list is a priority to not overwhelm oneself with a million different rules and rather look for balance in all things, keeping in mind harmony and equilibrium.
So here are 3 quick tips you can use today to support your digestion:
- SPICE YOUR FOOD with gentle warming herbs that are bitter or pungent. Some good detoxification herbs are cumin, ginger or small amounts of cayenne – but refer to your dosha or the state of your digestion before taking spice though. Generally speaking Vata and Kapha body types will benefit from warming spices but Pitta must be careful and restrain their intake at the risk of over-heating the body and the mind (loose bowels, irritation, frustration, anger showing as possible signs). The idea is that if you have a slow or irregular digestive system you will enjoy and profit from spices but if you have an overactive, fast digestive system which burns through the food quickly without taking nourishment then you are best sticking to a mild diet with very little or no spice.
- THE OPTIMUM PORTION SIZE: in Ayurveda it is recommended to eat only to 2/3rd of your ability, leaving space in the belly for the digestive juices to do their work. Portion size in Ayurveda are often related to a handful called an anjali in Sanskrit. It is thought that the perfect portion size is 2 anjalis or 2 handfuls cupped together of whatever your meal is made of (ideally on the healthy side of the sprectrum).
- MEAL SPACING: only take food in after you have fully digested your previous meal. Digesting a full meal takes up to 6 hours. If you are in the process of digesting food, taking in more food will slow down a fully firing digestive process and result in semi-digested food in the body creating ama, the Sanskrit word for toxins and debris that clutter the system. It will confuse your lymphatic system and even result in fuzzy, spacey thinking. In that sense, it is not advised to snack. Should you feel famish as Vata types are more likely to be if they don’t eat regularly then focus on easily digestible, light food. Fruits are your best option especially as Ayurvedic food combining principle highlight fruits as best digested when eaten away from other foods, to avoid a sour tummy.
Small steps to rejuvenate your digestion. What’s that for a plan – will you try?
I have a question… After trying to eat an Anjali portioned meal for weeks and weeks: I find myself very fatigued after eating and for the entire day. Is it me? I do have a daily Ashtanga practice and do not feel that much hunger in the morning. What are your thoughts?
Hello, I’d love to help but I would advise you see an Ayurvedic practitioner near you if you can locate one or otherwise a nutritionist or even doctor if the fatigue remains. The optimal portion size as I mentioned is 2 anjalis but of course there are many more parameters involved including what the content of the portions are made of, how much proteins you are eating, how much carbohydrates, how much or how intense your physical activity is, is your body in need of detoxification in which case it cannot process nutrients properly. A diagnosis should take into account your overall lifestyle or otherwise simply up the portions some until you find the right balance for your particular metabolism. Also I’d say if you’re not very hungry in the morning then do skip breakfast if it feels right and perhaps you can take more nutrients in later/at lunchtime if you then feel the need. Hope this helps, Anne