Ayurvedic Check List: What NOT to Do

My previous article on Ayurvedic digestion provided some easy tips for healthy digestion. Today we'll focus on what NOT to do. These tips will hopefully help you avoid slowing down the digestive fire and preventing any digestion issues.

Don't Rush, Enjoy Each Bite - How many times last week did you eat while standing, walking, or typing on the computer? It's hard to find enough time between work, family, and all the errands to sit down and eat a meal. But it is important to your digestion. Have you heard that your muscles grow stronger faster if you keep your awareness present and exercise mindfully? Digestion is the same way. Taking time to sit down and mindfully chew your food will make the body-nourishing process a lot more efficient. You will feel full faster and longer, enjoy your food more, and your digestive system will function better. Our digestion starts in the mouth when food is broken down by the enzymes in your saliva, so the longer you can chew the less work your stomach has to do. Starting today, promise yourself at least one sit-down meal a day!

Never Eat when Upset, Stressed, or Angry - A lot of people lose their appetite when they're stressed out. But often times, we end up eating anyway because we don't want to skip a meal. (Unfortunately, many of us are convinced that skipping meals is a sin and that our body will stop functioning if we don't feed it every 4 hours.) Our body is a lot smarter than that. According to Kenneth Koch, MD, professor of medicine, and medical director of the Digestive Health Center at Wake Forrest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C., our digestion is closely connected with the central nervous system. When our nervous system is under stress, our digestion

can shut down. During stressful situations our nervous system is wired to shut down blood flow to the digestive organs, decrease secretions needed for digestion, and cause different contractions of our digestive muscles. Stress can also increase the acid in our stomach causing indigestion. So what to do? Trust your body's intuition and eat only when you're truly hungry. Eating while angry, irritated, and stressed won't help. If you can wait until you're less-stressed then celebrate with a beautiful meal -- or just wait until you're truly hungry.

Eliminate Dead Food - According to Ayurveda, certain food preservation methods make some foods almost indigestible. Leftovers, processed, packaged, canned, and frozen foods are considered to be "dead food", and are very hard for your body to digest. In Ayurveda it is believed that these foods are lacking "prana" -- vital life-energy, and if we eat these foods it'll do more harm than good to our mind and body.

No Cold or Iced Water (Especially During Meals) - Cold water slows down your digestion and is likely to leave you with a heavy feeling in your stomach (even after a light meal). Instead, drink a glass of warm water on an empty stomach first thing in the morning. If you could pick only one thing to try and implement in your daily routine this would be it! By drinking a glass of warm water before having anything else you awaken your entire digestive system and prep it for food intake. It's similar to brushing your teeth before eating or taking a shower in the morning. Why leave your belly full of toxins, if you can clean it out? Also, small sips of warm water during your meals will help your digestion, too.

Bon Appétit!

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