There tend to be SO many sweet and heavy foods during Christmas! From office parties to "friendsgiving" to time with family, it's hard not to over-indulge and accumulate Ama, the toxic waste-product of incomplete digestion.
Holidays can easily lead to over-eating, drinking alcohol and snacking and sleeping at irregular times, which promotes the build-up of Ama. If this process is left unchecked, you could face health problems and sickness.
The first symptoms are typically lethargy, chronic exhaustion, lack of appetite, stiff joints, respiratory issues, allergen reactions, constipation or weight gain, just to name a few.
So how can Ayurveda help? Ayurvedic principles keep the digestive fire, Agni, burning! Unhealthy eating habits can overwhelm your digestive fire. Your Agni is what breaks your food down to nourish cells and purifies your body. When your Agni is strong, your body digests food efficiently without creating toxins and preventing future illness!
Follow the below tips to have a healthy holiday!
1. Eat your main (largest) meal around noon
The Christmas meal can be lavish affairs that take a lot of preparation and it is often mid-afternoon, closer to a normal dinner hour, by the time the meal starts and late-afternoon by the time it finishes. According to the natural laws of your digestive cycle, Agni is at its highest, and you are more able to digest rich, high-nutrient food, at midday. So try and schedule your Christmas lunch between 12 noon and 2pm.
When it comes to the evening, a big meal will not only tax your digestive system but can disrupt your sleep. Avoid discomfort and lack of good quality sleep, by eating a light easily-digested supper at least three hours before going to bed.
2. Eat meals at the same time each day
- Avoid skipping meals and eat three wholesome meals each day at the same time ideally. This will help keep your digestive fire, Agni, strong!
- Allow three to five hours between each meal. Eating before your previous meal is digested creates toxins.
- A piece of fresh fruit or a handful of soaked nuts are a good snack in the afternoon at least two hours after a meal.
3. Stop eating before you are"stuffed"
The Ayurvedic rule is to leave 25% of your stomach empty at the end of a meal! You should feel "satisfied" but not completely full to the point of being uncomfortable. This allows your digestive acids and enzymes to do their work.
Ayurveda advises to eat slowly and take smaller portions at a time. When you eat slowly and calmly, it is easier to tell when you have reached the point of satisfaction so you don't move into the realm of bloating and being stuffed.
4. Use Ayurvedic supplements for digestive aids
- Drink warm water between meals. Do not drink water immediately before, during or after meals
- Drink ginger or cumin tea 30 minutes before eating
- Eat a thin slice of fresh ginger with a little lemon juice, honey and a pinch of salt before eating to help stimulate Agni
5. Avoid leftover food and drinks
Leftovers is said to produce tamas or dullness in the mind and toxins in the body. Freshly-prepared food is easier to digest and contains more life force.
Other foods that decrease the strength and balance of your digestion:
- Heavy, deep-fried foods
- Food eaten cold from the fridge
- Iced drinks
6. Minimize or avoid too much sweets
Of course it's tempting to snack on chocolate, cake and sweets that seem to be everywhere during the holidays. However, a bit of moderation can save you from weakening your digestion, gaining weight and accumulating toxins.
Most sugar in these treats is highly refined and gives you energy, only to lead you right to an energy crash.
Create your own homemade cakes and sweets! This allows you to use cleaner, healthier ingredients.
7. Include all six tastes in your meals
Ayurveda identifies six tastes: sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter and astringent, and it's best have all six in every meal. Having all six tastes in your meals will improve your digestion and your overall health, ultimately leading to fewer cravings for sweets.
8. Eat balanced meals
Along with all six tastes, make sure to include a balanced combination of fats, carbohydrates, fiber and protein. Olive oil, coconut oil and ghee are excellent sources of healthy fates and be sure to include them.
9. Exercise daily, including Yoga
It's best to get at least thirty minutes of daily exercise to improve your Agni. A walk after a meal is a great way to aid digestion and improve the detoxification process. Yoga asanas are the best way to stretch your body and exercise muscles, joints and tendons and balance both mind and body.
All views and information shared here is only for the sharing of Ayurvedic knowledge. Please do not try or prescribe or take any of the remedies and suggestions here without talking to your regular, qualified doctor. Kottakkal Ayurveda and no other person associated with Kottakkal is responsible for unwanted side-effects or contraindications in your health.