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Ayurveda

Ayurvedic Guidelines for Good Digestion

DENISE O’DUNN

By DENISE O’DUNN,
CAP, LMT, E-RYT500

Ayurveda suggests, not only proper food choices for efficient digestion and quality nutrition, but equally important is proper eating habits. The way that you eat determines if your carefully chosen foods and food combinations will turn into ama (toxins) or ojas (essence of life).

Following are Ayurvedic principles of eating that, when applied, assist with the ability to digest well, absorb efficiently and eliminate properly. As always, keep in mind your original doshic nature and current doshic influences.

1. Eat three meals a day and healthy snacks when needed.

Eating too often or skipping meals is not recommended in Ayurveda as it disturbs the natural rhythm of digestion. By eating a light breakfast, plentiful lunch and light dinner, you are following the natural ebb and flow of agni (digestive fire), which increases during the morning, is strongest around noontime, and then decreases in the evening.

Upon waking, drink a cup of warm water with a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime juice. This will help provoke elimination and stimulate your digestive juices.

A light breakfast is essential to set digestion in motion and provide the energy that is needed to see you through morning activity. Eat cooked fruit or warm grains. Warm, cooked foods are easier for your stirring digestive fire to handle.

For a mid-morning snack, have fresh fruit. Fruit is best eaten separate from other foods.

At lunchtime, choose a variety of compatible foods that offer doshically balanced nutrition, mostly cooked, prepared with appropriate spices and fats, and leave you feeling satisfied.

If a mid-afternoon snack is needed, eat a small portion of nuts or seeds.

For dinner eat an easy to digest meal, such as soup or a one-pot vegetable and grain dish. Agni is winding down for the day.

Drink plenty of pure water through the day and you can sip small amounts during meals.

Before bedtime, you can drink a cup of warm, spiced milk (dairy, almond, rice, soy, etc.) to assist falling asleep easily.

2. Plan regular eating times.

Through consistent routines of eating, your digestion becomes accustomed to functioning efficiently and you are less likely to skip a meal.

3. Choose compatible food combinations.

Ayurveda outlines food combinations that overburden digestion and lead to increased ama formation. The general rule is not to combine foods with strongly opposing qualities, foods that require different enzymes and foods with different digestion times at one sitting.

4. Prepare your meals with awareness and devotion.

To assure that the food you eat will become ojas, it needs to be prepared in a sattvic manner with awareness, kindness and love. Embrace the acts of cooking and eating as sacred. It is best not to prepare meals or eat when you are upset or overly stressed. Our digestion is affected by our emotions.

5. Practice mindful eating.

Have all that need at the table before you sit to eat, so that you won’t be distracted from your meal once you start eating. Eat in silence, with all of your senses engaged in the aromas, flavors, colors and textures of your food. Relaxing music can play in the background and after eating, pleasant conversation may arise.

Disclaimer: This article was written for educational purposes only and is based on the tradition of Ayurveda. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, prescribe or heal any health condition or to replace standard medical treatment or advice.

Denise O’Dunn, president and founder of Balance & Bliss Inc., is a certified Ayurvedic Practitioner, Licensed Massage Therapist (ma58502) and yoga teacher. She received her degree in Ayurveda from the Florida Vedic College and is a professional member of the National Ayurvedic Medical Association. She can be reached at balanceandbliss@gmail.com or visit www.balanceandbliss.com

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