If you have digestive distress, it helps to get an individualized healing plan from an Ayurvedic practitioner. However, there are simple things that you can start in your life that you can implement on your own. I have worked with so many clients who have shocked themselves when they've experienced significant improvements in their digestion and overall energy from these shifts that may appeared to be so small. To get started, pick one tip and implement it. Once you've mastered that, move on to the next change.
Remember, even if your primary issue doesn't seem to be "digestive," all health conditions are ultimately supported by a strong digestion. The food you eat is your source of energy and nutrients that will ultimately rebuild your entire body and strengthen your mind. Go slowly. It may actually take years to implement all of these changes, but the most important thing is that you're headed in the right direction. Start with what's easiest for you to implement. If you're successful, you'll have more motivation to continue with more changes.
1. Chew your food to an even consistency. Yes, that means slowing down and noticing how you're eating. Your first stage of digestion starts in the mouth. If you're gulping down your food in chunks, you've robbed yourself of vital nutrients and even increase the chance of turning healthy food into toxic sludge.
2. Eat your largest meal at lunch. We need heat to properly digest food. We're intimately connected to the cycles of nature. One of the most important cycles of nature is the rising and setting of the sun. Our digestion is actually strongest when the sun is at its strongest. Even if it's a cloudy day, we still have more digestive fire to break down food at midday.
3. Eat in a calm environment. This could look differently for each person depending on their current life circumstances. My idea of the perfect meal is sitting outside under the trees, but I can't always do that. Assess your situation and think about the ways you can make it more calm. For your lunch at work, it may mean making the choice to shut down your computer and turning towards a window, a nice plant and then calmly eating your meal. If you're at home, it may mean clearing all the clutter from your dining table and creating a "sacred" eating area. 15 minutes of a slow, calm meal is more beneficial than an hour of a distracted meal in front of a computer.
4. Avoid late night meals. Avoid large dinners late in the evening. If you work until early evening and you don't find yourself eating until 8 or 9 at night, you may want to start with some small changes. If you've eaten a substantial lunch, you're less likely to need a large dinner. You can also eat a small meal right when you get home earlier in the evening. You may actually find that your evenings are less stressful when you're not thinking about the large meal you have to buy or prepare. If you get hungry later in the evening, you may use it as an opportunity to get to bed earlier and then wake up earlier. Waking up an extra 30 minutes in the morning may even give you extra time to put together a substantial lunch for your work day and even have a little food set aside for dinner later that day.
5. Eat at regular times during the day. I've heard many conversations when individuals speak admiringly of the cultures where life shuts down to break bread at a similar time every day. Even if we've never experienced this, our intuition just knows it's right for us. Our body wants and craves routine. Our body wants to know when food is coming and when it's time to do its digestive work. If this sounds like a difficult task for you, start with one meal where you strive to eat it at a regular time. For example, you can say that you'll create a 2 hour window for lunch and that means that sometime during that two hours, you'll drop everything and have your meal.
6. Avoid excessive snacking. Avoiding excessive snacking is connected to having regular meals at a consistent time every day. Have you had that experience where you've waited until 4pm to have lunch? During those hours, you're hungry and you've been snacking on lots of hard, dry, snacks for hours that didn't leave you feeling satisfied at all. Snacking to replace meals usually results in less wholesome and nourishing food. When you eat too many snacks in between meals, you stress your body. You are making your body restart a digestive process that it did not complete from the last time you ate.
7. Eat when you feel hunger. This may sound simple, but the truth is that we often eat when we're not hungry. It may take a while for you to get your body to a place where the hunger message is clear. Be patient. If you're eating at the right time, avoiding excessive snacking, and eating the right foods for your type, you'll begin to notice clear signs of hunger. Hunger is a sign that your body has gone through the full digestive process and that it's now ready to take on more food. The time between meals is different for each person. Some may need 4 hours, 6 or even 8 hours. It all depends on how you process food. If you find yourself getting too hungry, too quickly, that may mean you needed more food (or different food) in the previous meal.
8. Bring a sacred pause before you eat. Eating and digestion are sacred. Think of everything that your body is doing. It's taking nature, breaking it down and transforming it into usable nutrients that will build healthy tissue in your body. Our intricate digestion is as awe inspiring and amazing as childbirth. Recognize the sacredness and say a prayer. Take a deep breath. Sing an inspiring song - whatever resonates with you to connect with the power of your food, the act of eating, and the brilliance of our digestive system. The Japanese scientist, Masaru Emoto, did testing on water showing that water that was held in jars with words like love or compassion had a more organized and symmetrical pattern in microscopic testing than water that was held in jars with the words anger or hate. Based on those studies, there's a real possibility that a sacred pause may affect not only your state of mind, but the state of your food.