Your body has its own natural equilibrium. It is different to anyone else’s – it may be similar to someone else, but never exactly the same. It is for this reason conscious eating, as part of a tailored health regime, is necessary to create abundant and sustainable health.
The healing system of Ayurveda teaches that you have a unique mind-body type, which guides how you look and feel when you are healthy. Since my individual state of health and balance is different to yours, my dietary regime will differ from yours.
This system teaches that by understanding your personal mind-body type and strengthening your internal connection you begin to live in balance with your natural rhythms and your body’s perfect state of balance and harmony will reveal itself. In essence, you create a more sustainable You.
There are three primary objectives when it comes to conscious eating. First, it is important to consider your digestive power – your ability to digest and absorb nutrients from your food is essential to sustainable health. Second, by paying attention to HOW you eat you enhance your health. Third, having an understanding of your unique mind-body type assists you make the most appropriate choices for your body. Let’s look at each in a little more detail.
Your Digestive Power
This is probably the most important factor to consider in the creation of abundant, sustainable health and perfect balance. Have you ever felt like you eat ‘the right things’, and exercise regularly, but you do not have the energy you want? Or are you not losing weight, despite ‘doing everything right’? It is a good idea to explore the factors that may be weakening your ability to digest nourishment. When you determine these factors first you can restore balance and harmony much faster, and more sustainably.
Two of the major sources that can weaken your digestive power are:
1. Stress: When you are constantly busy and/or ‘stressed’, it is because your body is in a heightened state of ‘fight-or-flight’.
As a result your body is over-producing stress hormones.
Your adrenal glands and kidneys are working overtime to produce and filter these stress hormones, which places excess pressure on your digestive capacity. This hormonal reaction has a cascade effect on other metabolic functions, including your thyroid activity (so you feel heavily fatigued), and your level of immunity (leading to annoying, constant, little illnesses).
Without effective measures to counter stress, over time your body will experience chronic dis-ease and suffer from an inability to appropriately metabolise and store energy.
2. Overeating: In the western world, with obesity rates reaching one in three, overeating is very common. Our food is high in calories, but often low in nutrients.
When you feed your body more calories than it needs, your digestive power weakens.
The lack of adequate protein (which is the basic building block of the body) and other essential nutrients, but excess carbohydrate in a common western, processed diet creates greater hunger, so you eat more – it is a vicious cycle.
This tendency to overeat can be countered in a couple of steps:
1. By tuning in to your body, and
2. Eating only when you are hungry
I don’t believe in diets, because they don’t teach you to implement these two simple steps, particularly the first, in a sustainable way. If overeating, or not eating in a healthy way, is an issue for you, I encourage you to read the series of articles on Creating A Sustainable You. Here is another exercise you can try:
If you are considering eating, bring your stomach into your awareness and put your hand on it. Ask yourself “On a scale of 1-10 (1 is super-hungry and 10 is uncomfortably full) how hungry am I?” Tune in to how your body feels. Don’t eat until you reach a 2-3 and stop eating when you reach about 7. This will help your digestive system to work more efficiently. And because you have room left in your stomach you will feel more energetic.
One of the most powerful practices for stopping compulsive overeating, and getting in touch with your true appetite, is meditation. When you meditate, you connect to your essential nature and expand your capacity for self-referral, which is looking within and taking actions based on your internal value system.
Paying Attention to How You Eat
If you are ‘busy’, it is possible your eating patterns interfere with your ability to digest food and eat for sustainable health. In our society it is common to eat too quickly, on the run, or while our attention is on other things – like the TV or computer. When you slow down, eat in silence, or in a peaceful environment – by yourself or with important people – you eat consciously. When you fuel and nurture your body appropriately, you begin to notice its signals. You will also be more satisfied because you have taken the time to taste and appreciate your food.
Eat for Your Mind-Body Type
Once you are aware of your digestive power and how you are eating, you will naturally start to listen more to your body. In Ayurveda there are three mind-body types and the foods that are suitable for each mind-body type to achieve optimum health are different.
To learn more about your individual mind-body type download the report on the home page.
Ayurveda divides food into six categories based on their taste and the effect they have on your body. The six tastes are sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, and astringent. By incorporating all six tastes into each meal, your body feels satisfied, often with much less food than you think.
When you are satisfied, your body does not give signals to look for more food, and cravings begin to disappear. Your physiology begins to operate for sustainable health!
You no longer feel the need for sugary snacks, because your body feels satisfied with the meal you have eaten. Depending on your mind-body type, you will favour different tastes. In addition, by eating a variety of foods, especially densely pigmented foods of all colors and from all six-taste categories, you give your body all of the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients it needs.
The key to conscious and eating for sustainable health is to strengthen your internal referral system around food and eating habits, so you can stop reacting to external cues and make better choices for yourself. When you can do this, you move effortlessly toward behaviours that further strengthen this internal reference because they are right for you.