By Dr Shaun Matthews
Discover 7 ways to improve your digestion using the holistic science of Ayurveda. Managing when we eat, how we eat and how we approach our meal times.
1. Avoid eating a heavy evening meal.
Ayurveda advocates making lunch our main meal when our digestive fire is at its strongest. Once we go to sleep our digestion slows down markedly and it is difficult for food to get properly digested. When this happens we are more likely to feel heavy and lethargic in the morning and have no appetite.
2. Eat only when you are hungry.
While this may seem like common sense, it is certainly true that we often eat for other reasons – out of habit, because of the time of day or because we are feeling bored or anxious about something. This extra food places a load on our digestion and interferes with our natural appetite for our food.
3. Avoid cold drinks and eating food straight from the refrigerator.
Your body temperature is 37 degrees Celsius, so iced drinks and cold food will douse the digestive fire and make it harder for the body to warm up, break down, absorb and assimilate your food.
4. Leave the table still feeling a little hungry.
This is a challenging task for most of us and will require some discipline. Ayurveda recommends that each meal is a half solid, a quarter liquid and a quarter space. When there is not enough space the mixing function of the stomach gets impaired and our digestion can be slowed down by many hours. Worse than that it can lead to abdominal discomfort, bloating and excessive wind!
5. Be present to the food in front of you and the people you are eating with when you sit down for a meal.
This will help you not to over-eat which over-loads the digestion and paves the way for health imbalances. Closing your eyes and taking some slow relaxed breaths is a good start and helps us to feel more connected to ourselves and our environment. A short grace or practice of gratitude can help to centre us before consuming our food.
6. Separate the creative process of cooking from the receptive process of eating food.
In practical terms, this means turning off the stove and allowing the food to cool down, while still covered, for a few minutes. Take some time to let go of the intensity of the cooking the meal and take some time to centre yourself and prepare yourself for the experience of sharing food with your partner, family or friends and the satisfaction that can come with that. These few minutes can be a good time to go to the toilet, get some fresh air or just sit quietly collecting yourself.
7. After the meal, rather than popping down onto the couch and watching TV, consider going for a short walk or sharing doing the dishes with the people you live with
Standing up helps the movement of food along the digestive tract and activities such as walking or doing the dishes can be an important time for conversation and catching up with significant people in your life.
If you would like to learn more about Ayurveda and how to manage your digestive system. You may like to read Honouring your digestive fire the key to good health.
Dr Shaun Matthews will be visiting Manly Yoga on Saturday 27th July to host a half day workshop titled “Managing your digestive fire.” for further details and bookings, follow this link.