GT: The act of eating is a form of self-respect and is important for physical and mental health. Over 90% of Americans suffer from digestive problems, including bloating, gas, constipation, stomach pain, heartburn, etc. What we eat, the way we eat, and what time of the day we eat all effect our digestion.
Along with the foods we eat, there are several other ways we can improve our digestion through our eating habits. According to Ayurveda, we can improve digestion by stimulating the agni, or digestive fire, before we begin to eat. Weak agni results in fatigue after a meal and can cause an imbalance in digestion. Think of digestive fire this way: if a fire is too hot, it can burn easily, and if a fire is too low, it won’t burn enough. It needs to be just right to be balanced and we can do that through certain practices.
- Eat mindfully – Make sure you’re concentrating on the taste and texture of the food rather than just eating it because you’re hungry. Be mindful of the food going into your body. You also want to have a seat and relax while you eat. This will help you be mindful and really focus on your meal. Being mindful is also important for noticing when you’re full. If you eat standing up or while you’re driving, you just don’t pay the proper amount of attention to how full you are, causing a greater risk of overeating.
- Small, frequent meals – You want to leave at least 3-4 hours between meals throughout the day so you’re body has time to digest each meal. You only want to eat when you’re hungry. Eating more frequently than 3 times a day can help keep your metabolism and digestive agni going throughout the day.
- Drink liquids at room temperature – Think about this – you don’t want to throw ice-cold water on burning logs because the fire will go out. This is just the reason why you don’t want to drink ice cold water. Water should be consumed at room temperature because the cold water is too harsh on the digestive system and the body has to work harder to warm it up.
- Stay active – Exercising boosts your digestive fire. There are yoga poses that you can do to boost your agni and promote digestion. Talk a walk after a meal! Exercising also makes us happy and decreases our stress levels.
- Ginger tea – Sipping on ginger tea throughout the day can be wonderful for digestion. Ginger is great for digestion because it helps relax our digestive muscles. It also helps with bloating and gas!
- Eat fresh – Stick to fresh fruits and vegetables! They include complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. All of these are great for digestion. Below is a recipe I would choose to make to promote digestive agni!
Strawberry, Cucumber, & Mint Salad (serves 4-6)
- 2 cups strawberries, diced
- 2 cups mini seedless cucumbers, diced
- ½ cup feta cheese
- 2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- Add everything to a large bowl
- Carefully mix together
- Enjoy the freshness!