How to eat is as important as what we eat according to Ayurveda. Table manners in Indian philosophy is guided more by balance and to ensure great digestion for the creation of Ojas. 'Ojas', is the outcome from food once it had been perfectly digested. Ojas is positive, nurturing energy that boosts the immune, nervous, endocrine and psychological systems in the individual. The opposite of Ojas is called Ama. Indigestion creates Ama (toxins formed in the body due to improper digestion and imbalance).
- Steady the mind and the body before you begin to eat.- Wash hands and feet before the meal.
- Begin your meal with a blessing.
- Do not eat when you are upset.
- Avoid serving ice-cold water with the meal. Sip warm or room temperature water. Cold water makes the stomach work harder to digest the meal as heat is required for digestion.
- Serve freshly cooked food whenever possible
- Serve mostly cooked foods with small portions of raw salads of easily digestible carrots, cucumber, light color greens. Slow Cooked foods are easier to digest and they retain the nutrients besides tasting heavenly.
- Avoid serving milk with the meal. Milk is a hard food to digest and is best served by itself after it is warmed to help the milk to be more digestible. Milk is best served warm at night before bed, as calcium is more easily absorbed when a person is lying down.
- Chew your food well. Delight in the flavor, texture, aromas and colors of the food. Celebrate your meal
- Eat silently or have a good conversation.
- Eat a modest portion. Leave about 1/4 of the stomach empty to aid in digestion.
- Rest a bit after the meal, enjoy good light conversation or relaxing music after the meal. In the afternoon if one is relaxing by lying down, lie or curl up on the left side of the body in order to properly digest the meal. Do not rest after an evening meal but rather go for a short walk.
© Kavita Mehta