Ayurveda is an ancient and holistic system of health care, with its origins in the Vedic tradition of India. It emphasizes prevention through natural modalities, including diet and lifestyle. Ayurveda offers many “prescriptions” for maintaining optimal health that are easy to include in our daily routine. Here are a few you can adopt during these stressful times.
- As much as is possible, eat food that is local, organic and fresh. Food that is fresh and local has more flavour and is more nutritious, and organic food is better for your body and the environment. Winter is not the best time to get local produce, but most stores sell some local vegetables such as squash and sweet potatoes, both of which are very nutritious foods. You can also usually find local honey, milk, and grains.
- Sit down when you eat, and choose a settled atmosphere—including a friendly conversation with friends or family, if possible—to support digestion. Eating standing up at a fast-food stall, at your desk doing work, or in front of a TV is hard on your digestion. Also, mealtime is the time to unplug and leave your devices elsewhere. This may be a struggle with the kids, but it is well worth the effort to establish that habit.
- Plan your main meal for noon, when digestive strength is strongest. Eat more lightly at breakfast and dinner. Allow three hours to digest your evening meal before going to bed.
- Eat your meals at the same time every day. Avoid snacking between meals unless you’re very hungry, as this disrupts digestion and can cause gas and bloating.
- Include plenty of roughage in your diet, including freshly cooked veggies, whole grains, and legumes. Roughage binds to toxins and carries them out of the body.
- Use spices and herbs such as cumin, coriander, ginger, fennel, oregano, basil, and rosemary to stimulate digestion.
- Drink plenty of pure water throughout the day. Your digestive system needs water to work properly—dehydration is not only the leading cause of sluggish bowel movements but also contributes to low energy and mental fatigue. Sipping hot or warm water from a thermos throughout the day is best.
- Exercise daily according to your need and level of fitness. A workout need not be long or arduous. Even a 15-minute walk outdoors or using exercise equipment indoors a few times a day is sufficient. These days we can’t go to the gym or attend a spin class, but there are many other safe ways to exercise at home or outdoors.
- Be sure to get enough rest. Ayurveda recommends being in bed by 10 pm and up by 6 am. It has been found that the body gets a more profound rest if we sleep during these hours. Going to bed late and getting up late, even if we get the same number of hours of sleep, does not give the body as much rest.
- For a really profound rest, add the Transcendental Meditation technique to your daily routine. Just 20 minutes twice a day will allow us to experience a deep level of physical rest and inner stillness. The result is that we can face new challenges with more resilience and equanimity. It is important during stressful times to get sufficient rest and manage stress effectively. TM has been proven to be one of the most effective tools for managing stress and maintaining balance and joy.
If you are having problems with digestion, Ayurveda has a few suggestions:
- Eat in a more settled environment.
- Eat slowly – take the time to eat and enjoy your food.
- Try incorporating more ginger into your diet. Besides cooking with ginger, here are two way to consume more:
Sip on ginger tea. To make this stimulating drink, peel a 3-inch piece of fresh ginger and place in a saucepan with 2 cups of water. Boil for 10-15
minutes, turn off the heat and let it steep until the water is warm. Add ¼ teaspoon of lemon juice and pour it into a cup or a thermos to enjoy during the day.
Eat some raw ginger before meals: Within a half hour of your meals, eat a small slice of fresh peeled ginger with a bit of salt and lemon or lime juice.