After air and water, one key aspect that sustains our life on this planet is food. Vedic view of food is food is God, and God is food. Food is sacred and an essential part of our life. There are many varieties of food on this planet. Some foods are handed over to us by our family, some by tradition, some by the region where we are living and now that the world has become a global village, we are exposed to many more varieties of food from different places all over the world. We have a huge choice of foods around us, and it is imperative to choose the right kind of foods carefully. We all try our best to eat healthy foods because we know that the kind of food we eat impacts our health and weight. But one important aspect of eating that is neglected by many of us is eating right.
It is not only important to eat healthy food, but it is also important to eat healthy food in the right way because when the right food is eaten in the wrong way, it becomes toxic and unhealthy. What we eat is important, and how we eat is more important. If we can eat healthy food in the right way, we can safeguard ourselves from many diseases and have a fit body. Eating food in the right ways yields several health benefits to us. Let us see what the principles of eating right are.
8 Principles of eating right:
1.Mindfulness: Mindfulness is eating every morsel of food with awareness. We are lost in conversations or watching TV or mobile while eating, and we don’t pay much attention to the color, feel, smell, and fine taste of the food. Because of the lack of mindfulness, we eat more food than we need. When we practice mindfulness while eating, we gain the below benefits.
1. We know when to stop eating.
2. We enjoy the food more.
3. We eat the right amount of food.
2. Chewing food: Chewing the food is very important. When food is chewed properly, the enzymes in saliva get mixed with the food, and digestion becomes easier. Chewing food well makes it easy for the stomach. Below are the benefits gained due to chewing the food well.
1. It increases the nutrient absorption from food.
2. Food gets digested quickly, and the body remains free of acids and toxins.
3. Helps in weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight.
4. Improves one’s health and well-being.
It is recommended to chew a bite of food 32 times for maximum benefits. There is a health maxim that says – drink your food and chew your water. Yes, you read it right. It means food should be chewed so well that it almost becomes liquid, and water should be taken sip by sip and not gulped into the body.
3.Quantity of food to eat: There is no fixed quantity of food for everyone as each person is different and has different needs. Eating less or more than what a person needs is harmful to the body. Ayurveda recommends two parts of food, 1 part of water and one part of air as an ideal quantity of food to be eaten. This recommendation means that it is important to leave some space in the stomach for air and not overload it with food. Overloading the stomach with food leads to poor digestion. Below are the benefits of eating the right quantity of food.
1. Digestion improves.
2. Helps in maintaining weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight.
When a person eats food with mindfulness, without any distractions, it becomes easy to consume the right quantity of food.
4.Gratitude: In Indian tradition, it is recommended to start eating good with a small prayer where you express gratitude to the divine for blessing you with food. Millions of people in this world cannot afford food, and it is a privilege to be able to eat food whenever we want to eat. Below are the benefits of practicing gratitude before eating.
1. It prepares the body and mind for food.
2. Gratitude releases feel-good hormones, and these hormones promote the well-being of a person.
3. It makes food more enjoyable.
Every time you eat something, you can say a simple prayer of thank you to God or Universe or Nature for providing you with food and nourishing your life.
5.Time: In nature, everything has a certain timing. There is a rhythm. It is the same with eating food too. Ayurvedic and Yogic texts recommend eating food before Sunset or just at Sunset time. This is because metabolism slows down towards the end of the day, and eating food after Sunset burdens the digestive system. Eating 1 hour before sleep time increases body weight and is unhealthy for health. Ideally, one should go to bed on an empty stomach. If one finds it difficult to maintain a gap of 4 hours between dinner and sleep time, one can have a light, healthy snack like a fruit an hour before going to bed. Below are the benefits of following this guideline.
1. It helps in weight loss and maintaining healthy body weight.
2. Promotes deep sleep.
3. Unburdens the digestive system and helps the body to focus on repairing and rejuvenating during sleep.
4. You wake up fresh in the morning.
It takes some practice and planning to implement this principle. If Sunset is not possible for dinner, at least try maintaining a gap of 2 hours between dinner time and sleeping time.
6. Eat food only when hungry. It takes 4 hours on an average for the stomach to digest the food. When food is not digested, and one is not hungry but still eats the food, such food becomes a burden to the stomach and creates toxins in the body. Avoid eating food when not hungry.
7. Don’t eat food when you are angry or sad or in a bad mood. Food consumed in a negative state of mind becomes toxic and unhealthy for the body. Calm down your thoughts and emotions before eating food and make it a rule to talk of only positive things while eating. Maintain silence if it is not possible to talk of good things.
8. Eat food only while sitting. Standing and eating food does not let you eat food peacefully and mindfully. For sitting, sukhasana or sitting cross-legged is preferred as this posture improves digestion and strengthens muscles.
These are the principles of eating right. Some of these principles are gratefully adapted from Om Swami’s beautiful book – Wellness Sense – filled with the wisdom needed to lead a healthy life. When one practices these principles in daily life, maintaining a healthy and fit body becomes easy. When food is chewed well, mindfully, with gratitude, at the right time, in the right quantity, it becomes a meditation and a profound experience. Such food becomes an elixir for the body, which promotes health and happiness. Maybe, this could be the intention of Vedic recommendation to eat food silently.
Eat right and stay healthy!