How To Eat Properly
Yoga Eating? It sounds like a silly headline. “I’ve been eating my whole life, I don’t need to learn now.” True as that may seem, yoga has some simple, yet powerful recommendations that can make a big difference to your health
Yoga Eating – Let your body be your guide
Eating only when hungry and consuming only what your body can handle is an important starting point.
Most of us have lost the link between hunger and eating. Typically we cram food into our mouths all through the day, regardless of whether our body has asked for it or not.
Our meals are ordered by the clock, by time – breakfast time, lunch time, dinner time, late night supper time, and a constant supply of snacks and drinks in between those times.
This is too much for the digestive system to handle and it also covers up our awareness of what and when our body is actually asking us for nourishment.
One of the fundamentals of yoga eating is to eat in response to the signs of natural hunger. Although most modern people have lost the ability to recognize this, with a bit of commitment and discipline it can be quickly re-established.
There is a great tale from ancient India. It says that when each soul is about to be born in a human body God allocates a certain amount of nourishment to see them through their lifetime. The quicker you get through it, the shorter your life. It’s a very succinct parable about the wisdom of moderation.
Eat With Conscious Awareness
A yogi is attentive whilst eating. They do one thing – eat. They don’t watch TV, or read a newspaper.
Admittedly this can be difficult at times in modern life, but try and take some time just for eating a few times per week and you might develop a taste for it (no pun intended).
You may be surprised as you notice the texture and flavors of your food. (Try this with your eyes closed to deepen the experience.)
Most people are unaware of the food they eat simple because they pay little attention to it. This is the same with most of our daily activities as generally people have their attention in the past or the future. Yoga and meditation helps you become more “mindful” and present – to live life in the moment.
It is also important in the Yogic tradition to acknowledge and be appreciative of the food we eat. This vibration is transferred to the food and boosts its health-giving properties. In many traditions saying “Grace” before a meal is an important ritual.
An important consideration is to ensure that we are in a positive emotional state when eating. We are literally feeding our emotions, and if we eat when angry or upset then we are fueling these emotions within ourselves.
Many people in modern society eat as a way of dealing with difficult emotions. A yoga eating approach would ask them to cultivate an experience of awareness of these emotions and not to consume food or drink until such time as they have passed. Meditation practice is a great aid to this.
Chew Food Properly
Chewing food properly is a key principle of Yogic eating. The Indian leader, Mahatma Gandhi once said, “One should drink one’s food, and chew one’s juice.” This is an indicator to chew one’s food until such time as it becomes liquid in nature. There are a number of reasons why this is important.
The delicate walls of the stomach cannot impact enough force to break down large portions of food. In order to do this it needs to produce large amounts of gastric juices and stomach acids. This can lead to health problems.
Also undigested food lying in the stomach and the digestive tract can begin to ferment causing long term health problems and adds toxins to the internal systems.
Proper chewing not only helps break down food into smaller and smaller pieces it also helps prepare food for its journey to the stomach. There are enzymes released from within certain foods (particularly uncooked natural foods) that help break down the food to best release its nutrient potential.
There are also specific enzymes contained within saliva that help this process also, but they need to be given enough time to begin to act. If food leaves the mouth and heads to the stomach before these enzymes have the opportunity to begin to function then we set ourselves up for potential health problems and don’t receive all of the nutrition we could otherwise get from the foods we consume.
Yoga Eating – Get Your Weight On Track
Interestingly those who chew food properly tend to eat less and put on less weight. In part this is because it takes some time for the message that the stomach has received enough to get to the conscious mind, so the slower we eat the less chance we will overeat.
Also because we release more of the pranic, vitamin and mineral content of the foods we consume then our body receives what it requires from less volume of food. So, for those who are overweight, chewing thoroughly and eating slowly may provide a simple solution to reducing some of it.
Another benefit of properly chewing is that it stimulates dental health. Chewing stimulates blood flow to the gums and roots of the teeth. Many yogis recommend taking time to chew on the left side, then the right side of the mouth to ensure stimulation across the gums and teeth.
So there you have it. A few simple recommendations that can make a big difference. Give yoga eating a try – I guarantee you will enjoy your food more and your health will benefit too.