In Ayurveda, aahara is considered as Mahabhaishjya (maha-superior, bhaishjya-medicine). That means a healthy diet can be the most powerful medicine for providing adequate nutrition and nourishment for the body and mind.
One should always indulge in the following habits while eating and should always consume:
- Warm food- stimulates Agni (digestive fire), digests quickly, expels flatus, and reduces mucus.
- Unctuous food- it tastes good, stimulates the unstimulated Agni, gets digested quickly, expels flatus, develops the body, provides firmness to sense organs, increases strength and produces clarity of complexion.
- In Proper Quantity- without disturbing Vata, Pitta, Kapha, i.e. bio-energies of body, it promotes life span, easily passes down to anus, doesn’t disturb Agni (digestive fire) and gets digested without discomfort.
- When previous meal is digested- doshas (bio-energies) are situated in their own locations, agni (digestive fire) is stimulated, appetite arises, entrance channels are open, eructation is pure, heart is normal, flatus passes down and urges of flatus, urine and faeces are attended. The eaten food promotes only the life-span without afflicting any dhatu (tissue). (On the contrary, when eating during indigestion, the newly-eaten food mixes with the product of the previous meal and vitiates all, leading to doshas quickly which can cause disease.)
- Items non-antagonistic in potency: avoid food items in which one is hot in potency (e.g. hot chocolate) and other is cold (e.g. ice-cream). Such combinations should not be mixed and consumed at the same time. (eg: lava brownie)
- Eat in a favourable place, with favourable accessories: there should be no mental/ emotional disturbance interruption, while having food.
- Avoid eating too fast- so that it does not lead to choking, it does not lead to a state of depression and food gets established in its place properly i.e. stomach.
- Not eat too slowly: Eating too slowly, one doesn’t get satisfaction, eats too much, food is cold and thus digested irregularly.
- Should not talk/laugh/or concentrate on things other than food while eating- as it can also lead to the choking of food particles or expelling it through nostrils, etc.
Volume of food to be eaten:
- One should eat in such quantity that fills stomach 1/3 with solid food, 1/3 with liquid food, and rest 1/3 should be kept empty.
Eat according to capacity of Agni/digestion:
- Whatever quantity gets digested in time without disturbing the normalcy should be regarded as the proper measure.
Importance of food when taken in proper quantity:
- Food when taken in appropriate quantity there is no obstruction in heart, no pain in sides/ flanks, no excessive heaviness in abdomen, saturation of sense organs, cessation of hunger and thirst, ease in every movement of body.
Avoiding taking incompatible foods:
- Food items which are antagonist of each other should not be taken together. For Example: One should not take fish with milk.
Importance of timely food consumption:
- While explaining kalabhojana (timely food intake), it is said in Ayurveda that time of meal is as suited to the individual. However, generally the second meal is taken after seven & half hours of the first meal & night meal three hours before the sleep.
- A person should take a meal only when he feels hungry.
- Lunch should be taken early between 12 -1 in the noon, this coincides with the peak Pitta period, Pitta is responsible for the digestion.
- Ayurveda recommends that lunch should be the largest meal of the day and dinner should be lesser and lighter than lunch.
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Be safe. Be healthy with the power of ayurveda.
–Dr Pooja Sharma
M.D. Ayurveda, R. A. Podar Ayurvedic College and Hospital