One of the most important activities of a human body is eating food. Not only does food provide the required energy for daily activities but also nourishment for various tissues. Besides the quality and quantity (“The What”) of food that we eat, time (“The When”) and manner of eating (“The How”) also have a significant impact on digestion.
Remember - “The food we cannot digest, will digest us”. These are a few common and useful tips that are applicable to food across people, culture and geography boundaries
- During meals, Establish a routine for the quantity and time of meals, irregular meals lead to disturbances in digestion
- Resting after afternoon meals (ideally reclined rest and not sleep) and a short walk after evening meals are good for digestion.
- Finish your dinner two to three hours before the sleep time. Sleeping immediately after the meal can lead to impaired digestion and prevents the body from getting proper deep rest.
- Eat meals with a calm mind, meals had in disturbed state of mind (anger, sorrow, fear, etc) cause harm to the body. One can practice the process of grounding before the meals, many cultures have practice of praying.
- Food should not be eaten too fast, but properly chewed. A good average time for a meal is half an hour, which allows proper chewing and satiation leading to an effective digestion.
- A lot of cultures have a habit of sitting down for meals. Sitting down helps with better digestion and also better for mindful eating.
- Stop eating before you are completely full. It takes around 10 minutes for the signal to travel to the brain, that we got adequate food.
Quantity and Quality
- One should not overeat. The right quantity leaves the stomach and body light during and after meals. The stomach should be filled one third by solid food, one third by liquid and remaining space left empty for the digestive enzymes and by products, for and effective digestive process.
- Do not eat stale food, especially for students and those doing mental work. It induces laziness and leads to dull memory.
- Excess cold or excess hot food is not good for our teeth and can also weaken the liver. Cooked food should be slightly warmer than our body temperature. Warm food besides tasting better, keeps our digestive fire balanced, digests faster and leads to effective elimination of digestive wastes.
- Cooked food needs some added fat, as it helps in movement of food inside our guts and induces better digestion and nourishment.
- Most grains take at least three hours to digest, so that should be the minimum gap between meals. Ideally the gap between meals should be around six hours. Eating too soon before the previous food has been digested, is the most common cause of imbalances and diseases in the body.
- There should be adequate quantity of alkaline and vitamin rich foods (e.g. fruits and vegetables) as opposed to grains that are rich in proteins and carbohydrates. A good ratio is 3 to 1. Fruits and vegetables can also be complemented by sprouted grams, mung beans and other healthy sprouts.
- Avoid and reduce the quantity of fried foods, they are heavy to digest.
- Substitute morning tea and coffee by healthier option like warm water with lemon squeeze into it.
- Food should not be dry, it is better to have food with adequate water content and some fats. Besides facilitating movement through the digestive tract, this also helps with better absorption of vitamins and other nutrients.