Conscious Eating of Ayurveda and Best Practices for Daily Routine
Every cell in our body depends on the energy that comes from the breakdown of nutrients in our food. To achieve a state of perfect health and harmony throughout the body cells, a proper functioning digestive system is key. To improve the functioning of our digestive process, practice conscious eating habits.
The Conscious Eating Practices of Ayurveda:
Only eat when hungry. Hunger is a physical signal from the body to the brain and back to the body that says, “I am prepared now to eat.” Otherwise, the body and digestive system is not prepared to handle the intake of food, and will not be able to digest what is eaten. Often people eat to feel nurtured in response to emotions like anger, stress, sadness, or even boredom, and this should be avoided.
Stop eating 1-2 bites before feeling “full.” This allows the body the space it needs in the stomach to properly digest the food you consume, and also assists weight loss. Undigested food is stored as ama (toxins), that contributes to weight gain and/or disease or illness.
Eat sitting down. Then wait at least 5 minutes before getting up from the table. (This includes hopping up from the table in the middle of the meal and returning to your seat.) Anything that creates an upward flow of movement will disrupt the downward flow of digestion.
Focus solely on food while eating. Turn off or put away all electronics, and don’t read while eating. Give the mind a place to attend to by practicing gratitude and sending the food loving, positive energy. Visualize the energy from the food going to all the body cells, filling them with joy and vitality.
Eat in a calm environment. Help the body absorb only good things by avoiding stressful, noisy environments while eating (this may mean eating more, home-cooked meals). Eat in silence whenever possible or listen to peaceful music in the background. Stay in good company, keeping a pleasant, light (gossip-free) conversation. Avoid stressful thoughts or excessive worrying while eating. Don’t eat when feeling emotional.
Carefully chew the food. Give important digestive enzymes the time to function properly so that ama will not be produced.
Lunch should be the main meal of the day. This is when your digestive system (or agni, digestive fire) is strongest. Not eating heavily in the evenings gives the body time to rejuvenate and repair, and allows the body to release stored ama (helping with weight loss).
Putting Conscious Eating into Practice:
Print this handout as a reminder. Place it in a place where you often eat, or in more than one place, to remind you to be mindful of conscious eating habits.
Start incorporating one or two new conscious eating practices at a time. Focus on one or two at first, then once you are consistent with those practices, add in an additional practice one at a time. You may never have a perfect practice, but keep affirming your ability to succeed. Be accepting of exposure to certain circumstances that may interfere with your practice, but try to plan ahead whenever possible to minimize these effects. Remember that proper digestion is the key to health.
Keep a food journal. Research has proven that record-keeping reminds you of your commitment and will make you more successful. Record all the food you eat throughout the day, how much, where you were, and how you were feeling. These notes will help you see what is or is not helping you eat more consciously.
You can also incorporate a hunger scale (1-starving to 10-full), taking note of the number on the scale for how hungry you were at the beginning of the meal and the end. Retrain the brain to be mindful of the body’s natural signals and to listen to them appropriately.
Share the commitment with others. Social support will help increase your success, especially if you have friends or family members at home with you, reminding one another of conscious eating habits. Being in an environment where other people are supportive of your positive changes is always a wonderful gift.
Stay determined. You may face resistance and old patterns that want to keep you from changing yourself for the better.Develop the willpower needed to overcome that negative force and continue to affirm success.
See the body as a temple. Treat it with care and kindness. Be gentle to it by not overeating or eating too fast.
“Slow and steady wins the race.” Be patient and stay focused. Short-cuts don’t provide lasting effects because you never learn to change the habits that have led to your current health status in the first place. Conscious eating is a tool for creating a lifelong, balanced practice for health.
Sesame Seed Oil Pulling
Sesame seed oil has been around for thousands of years, so long that scientists are unable to agree on which country first used it for its many healing properties and health benefits.
Sesame oil originates from the Sesamum indicum plant. It is made by pressing the plant’s seeds to obtain the oils.
Sesame oil contains healthy, unsaturated fatty acids including linoleic, palmitic, oleic and stearic acids. These are easily absorbed and digestable. It also contains vitamins A, B, and E.
There are many health benefits of sesame oil when taken with food. Sesame oil has been proven to:
- Lower the risk of the high blood pressure and reduce plaque in artery walls
- Slow down the aging process (anti-aging)
- Improve immune system functioning by increasing levels of vitamin E, iron, and calcium
In addition, sesame oil is a fantastic tool for getting rid of toxins when used for oil pulling.
In ayurvedic practices, oil pulling is a method of detox recommended to be incorporated into your daily routine. You basically swish your mouth with an oil and allow it to pull out all the toxic waste in your body. Oil pulling with sesame oil has many health benefits including:
- Releasing bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites from the body
- Reducing heavy metals in the blood stream
- Improving the health of gum tissue, including fighting the bacteria that cause gum disease
- Whitening teeth
- Encouraging the blood and lymphatic systems to cleanse by stimulating the production of saliva
- Encouraging the release of toxins from the organs and balances the three ayurvedic doshas (pitta, vata, and kapha). In Ayurvedic Medicine, it is held that dis-ease is caused when the balance among the three doshas in a human body are unbalanced. (Read more about Ayurveda below.)
It is a wonderful alternative to chemical-filled mouth washes or teeth whiteners. And a great every-day cleanser you can add to your morning routine.
How to use sesame oil for detoxing and oil pulling:
The best time of day to use sesame oil is first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, ideally before brushing your teeth. You can do it while you shower, while you cook breakfast, however or whenever works for you.
Place 1 TBSP of plain sesame oil in your mouth and swish for at least 10 minutes, but aim for up to 20 minutes. You will notice the oil turning to a light white color as it fills with residues and toxins from your body. This means it is important to completely spit the oil residue out into the garbage (not down your drains or you will block your plumbing!) and then rinse your mouth with water thoroughly, being sure not to swallow the used oil.
And lastly, sesame oil can also be used for a moisturizing and grounding full body massage. It is wonderful for achieving glowing, healthy-looking skin and protecting skin from the harsh effects of the sun and pollution.
To perform a self-massage (which most people will find easiest to do), apply 1-2 TBSP of sesame oil all over the body, paying special attention to the head, face, and feet, before getting into the shower. These areas are especially sensitive, and are places where we can fully receive the grounding, warming effects that sesame oil massage has to give. (It is helpful for balancing the vata dosha, for example.)
First, massage the body from the head, down, while focusing on sending healing and loving energy to your body. Most of us tend to ignore our bodies, and all that they do for us, so take this time to be grateful for all that it does to support us in life.
Then to stimulate the body’s circulation, you may take a turn rubbing the sesame oil vigorously, paying special attention to areas with cellulite or toxin (ama) buildup that you want to release.
Enter into the shower and allow the oils to soak into the skin by rinsing with warm, hot water for about 5-10 minutes.
You may also want to try ending your showers with a quick blast of cold water. (Switching from hot to cold temperatures has many health benefits, including weight loss, improving blood pressure, balancing the life force flow, and waking you up!)
What kind of sesame oil is best to buy?
The best sesame oil for health benefits, and especially for cleansing is an organic, cold-pressed sesame oil. Refined or unrefined will be okay to use, but refined tends to be lighter.
To learn more about the basics of Ayurveda, visit this article on Ayurveda 101.