Diet is considered to be one of the essential pillars of health. Not only is it important to pay attention to what you eat, but it is also just as important to notice how and when you eat. You always want to make sure that whatever and whenever you eat, you will be able to digest it. To avoid any digestive complications, such as acid reflux, indigestion, upset stomach, and constipation, there are some general practices that Ayurveda has laid out to observe during meals.
1. Never overeat. Only eat to about three-fourths of your capacity. When you ‘stuff yourself,’ it is hard for your stomach to transform and metabolize your food. You must leave some room for air in your stomach so that your stomach muscles have some space to transform and metabolize your food.
2. Do not eat until the previous meal has digested. Typically, it takes about three hours for a meal to fully digest and go from the stomach to the intestines. If you consume food before your previous meal has digested, then your stomach begins to digest the new food, rather than finishing up what was in there first. This means that the older food just sits there and you will most likely end up with indigestion.
3. Milk should not be taken with meals because milk is only to be consumed with sweet tastes, such as with cereal or toast. Do not mix milk with meals because the milk will curdle in the stomach if you consume it with any of the other five tastes, which are salty, sour, pungent, bitter, and astringent.
4. Lunch should be the main meal of the day and breakfast and dinner should always be lighter. The reason is that the digestion works the strongest when the sun is highest in the environment. So your largest meal should be at noon, which is lunchtime. According to Ayurveda, the purpose of breakfast is to kindle your digestive fire and therefore, breakfast should be light. Only have enough to get you through the morning so that you are hungry for lunch. Dinner should also be light because it is getting closer to bedtime and digestion is not as strong in the evening. Having a lighter dinner will ensure that the meal is digested before bed and it will be easier to sleep at night.
5. Do not consume ice-cold beverages and food. Putting anything that is ice-cold into your body will dampen your digestive power. With our body temperature at 98.6° F, putting anything in that is very cold, will shock the physiology and will harm the digestion.
6. After every meal, take a few minutes to just sit quietly before you return to your activity. This will allow for the digestion to begin and work effectively and efficiently.
7. Always remember to take the time to chew, because the digestive process begins in the mouth with chewing and the mixing of saliva. If you do not chew properly, your stomach will have a tougher time digesting your food.
8. Do not eat right before going to bed. If you do, not only will a full stomach interfere with the quality of sleep, but also, you are less likely to be able to digest the food.
9. All dairy products, except for boiled milk, should be avoided at night. Dairy products, such as cheese and yogurt are heavy and hard to digest. It is best to consume these foods during the day. If you are hungry before bed, have a glass of boiled milk, which will be lighter and will help you sleep.
10. Lastly, which is also one of the most important principles is that avoid genetically modified foods. Organic is the best and is the healthiest approach to eating. Do not unnecessarily expose yourself to chemicals.