Digestion is a cornerstone of health. You might be used to hearing that we are what we eat, but Ayurveda, an ancient science of life and health, says that we are what we digest.
Think about it... it makes perfect sense. No matter what high-quality organic produce you eat, if you can’t digest it and assimilate the nutrients while efficiently eliminating the waste, your body will have hard time building healthy cells.
A healthy belly, the one that digests food well, makes the entire body feel energized, light, and happy.
Happy belly = happy you.
Unfortunately, many of us are way too familiar with the way an unhappy belly feels and looks: bloated, gassy, heavy, sluggish and irregular.
When that happens, the effects spread to the entire body. Suddenly your energy level goes down, there is no desire to be social or active, and all your thoughts turn into an angry self-criticizing monologue towards your body.
The good thing is the efficiency of your digestion and the way your stomach feels is largely determined by what and how you eat, so it is completely in your control to make your belly happy!
Eating for a happy belly starts at the grocery store.
While creating an entire shopping list is quite personal, I would like to share the top 15 items for a happy healthy belly. All the items are highly nutritious, easy to combine with each other, and easy to digest. They won't cause bloating, heaviness, and irregularity (assuming that you chew everything well and don't swallow chunks, of course).
Here is Your Guide to a Happy Belly Grocery List:
1. Yams: Nutritious and easier to digest than the regular white potato. While most people don’t differentiate between sweet potatoes and yams, according to John Immel from joyfulbelly.com, yams are more moist, orange colored, and very belly-friendly. Sweet potatoes have a more dry, astringent quality and are lighter in color. Sweet potatoes are best minimized when you experience irregularity or bloating.
2. Red and Yellow Lentils: Warming, grounding, and fiber-rich small lentils are easier on your digestion than larger beans. Soak them overnight and cook until soft with some coconut oil or ghee. Add cumin, coriander, and black pepper.
3. Seaweed: Rich in minerals, vitamins, and easily-digestible protein, seaweed is almost a perfect food. It tastes good in salads or sauteed.
4. Avocado: Soft, nourishing, and rich, this fruit is surprisingly rich in protein and fiber. While quite heavy in texture, it is gentle on your stomach. According to Ayurveda, avocados help to build strength and a healthy immune system. If avocados are too difficult to digest, add lime, pinch of salt, and cilantro.
5. Squash and Zucchini: Easy on your digestion, especially when lightly steamed or blended into a soup.
6. Spinach: Soft and so nutritious, spinach is one of the milder dark greens. When kale is a bit too rough for a sensitive stomach, spinach is a safer choice.
7. Almonds: Ayurveda recommends 10 soaked and peeled almonds a day to build strength and immunity. Make sure that almonds are soaked for at least 8 hours (up to 36) and that you peel off their dark skin. If even peeled soaked almonds are too heavy for you, blend a handful with water, 1 date, and a piece of fresh ginger to make a nourishing light smoothie.
8. Coconut Oil: Perfect for high heat cooking and baking, coconut oil is a must-have in any healthy kitchen. You can use it as a moisturizer, as well.
9. Blueberries: Many of us have an elevated amount of yeast in the body due to stress and poor diet. Sugars even when they come from fruit can create bloating in people with high yeast. Blueberries because of their low sugar levels compared to other fruit are less likely to upset your stomach even in someone recovering from yeast or candida.
10. Fennel: Soothing, and quite tasty, this fiber-rich veggie goes great in soups, stir-fries, and salads. It can also reduce bloating.
11. Aloe Vera Juice: It is a thousand-year-old healing herb, which is well known for its laxative and anti-inflammatory qualities both for GI and skin. Gel is more concentrated than juice. Try adding 1-2tbs in water and drink it throughout the day.
12. Unsweetened Applesauce: A perfectly belly-friendly sweet treat or quick snack. Natural applesauce is also a good source of vitamin C. If you’d like to slightly increase the fiber, stir in a tablespoon of ground up flax seeds. Ayurveda recommends having apple sauce with a little bit of ghee and powdered ginger and serving it warm.
13. Quinoa: It is a great source of complete protein in an easy to digest form. It is great for most people, even the ones who have hard time digesting other grains. It’s fluffy and softer than most grains, which makes it easier on the stomach.
14. Raw Sheep or Goat Milk Cheese: Unpasteurized goat and sheep's milk cheese is easier on our digestive system than regular cow milk cheeses. Look for organic, grass-fed varieties.
15. Eggs: Assuming that you are not allergic to eggs and consume animal protein, eggs is an easier to digest form of protein than meat. Keep in mind that it is still a very high-protein food and protein is one of the harder-to-digest items.