According to Ayurveda, there are two parameters of health – Ahaar (food) and Vihar (lifestyle). These two factors together affect the overall health of a person. Food is obviously the most important parameter for our survival. But, when we talk about the body intake as a whole, it is not only the food that we eat. Our food also consists of the air that we breathe, the solids and liquids that we ingest, the substances that we absorb through the skin. Then there is food for the mind and the soul. The things that we see, hear or think are all food for the mind and the soul. For perfect health, all these kinds of food have to be carefully selected and consumed. In this article, we will discuss a perfect Ayurvedic meal for the body.
According to Ayurveda, food is the most basic and the most effective medicine. Cooking and eating food is considered to be an auspicious process and should be performed religiously.
There are many factors that constitute a perfect Ayurveda meal. They are –
Proper raw material
Good quality fruits, vegetables, grains etc. are the foundation of good food. Following foods should be avoided in order to ensure a healthy Ayurveda meal.
Non-organic food – fruits, vegetables or grains that are grown with the help of pesticides, insecticides or excess use of fertilizers are highly detrimental to our health. They hardly contain the natural nourishment present in organically grown crops. Instead, they present our body with a cocktail of hazardous chemicals instead. Most of these foods are said to cause lifestyle disorders, hormonal imbalance, allergies and even cancer. Organically grown food is the very basic requirement for a perfect Ayurveda meal.
Proper cooking process
Cooking process is almost equivalent to doing a religious ritual in Ayurveda. It is strictly advised that the person who is cooking the food should be in a happy and content. The cook should be clean, well dressed, with tied hair. Normally Brahmin cooks used to have their head shaved off before they would start their cooking careers. Brahmin is not exactly a caste, but it is a state of mind. A Brahmin cook is highly recommended by the ancient scriptures because she/he was supposed to be a peaceful, calm, happy person with good judgement, ability to concentrate and perform work with a spiritual orientation. It is said that the raw material should be put in the cooking vessel with the devotion of putting an ahuti in the yagya just like an offering made to the Lord. The food cooked with a negative mind will have negative effect on the physical as well as mental health of the person consuming it. Whereas, food cooked in a positive state of mind or in remembrance of Almighty becomes Amrit (Divine food).
Ideally, artificial materials like silicone, plastic utensils should not be used while cooking. It is scientifically proven that warm food in plastic creates toxins and can trigger multiple types of cancers. Ayurvedic cooking should be done in utensils made of naturally occurring metals like iron, copper, brass etc., glass or wood. Even earthenware is very good for cooking. It imparts a unique aroma to the food cooked in it.
The food should not be subjected to sudden drastic temperature changes by heating or cooling. By doing so the food might become denatured and create toxins in the body when consumed. Even after the food is cooked, it should be allowed to cool on its own. This helps to retain the natural aroma, taste and nutrition in the food. For example, a hot food should not be put in the refrigerator to cool, or a frozen food should not be thawed by sudden heating.
Healthy meal procedure
A perfect Ayurveda meal has many factors –
First is the mind factor, because mind is the controller of the body. According to Ayurveda, it is not only a tasty, well decorated and healthy food that matters, but also the state of mind of the person consuming it. You should be in a peaceful and happy state of mind while eating. Mentally accepting the food initiates better digestion. But if you are stressed, anxious, angry or sad, your hormones and nervous system will be out of balance and will affect the digestion of the food. For example, by eating food while watching television all the attention is fixed on crime news, family serials or movies and your mood and physiology is directed according to their influence on your body. Crime news might initiate sympathetic nervous system whereas perfect digestion of food requires parasympathetic nervous response. Therefore, if you do not have a peaceful state of mind while eating, you might get more toxins than nutrition out of that food.
GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) food
Genetically modified fruits, vegetables and grains are the most unnatural foods on the planet. They have a high resistance to plant diseases, insects, pests, and changing climatic conditions. They can grow in abnormal climatic conditions. You can observe their unnatural characteristics at your home. GM vegetables and fruits do not rot for days. A normal vegetable will get spoilt in a lesser duration. These durable vegetables when consumed are very hard to digest. Instead of nourishment, they produce toxins inside the body. The GMOs are produced by changing the genes of the original species. For example, GM strawberries have a gene that is taken from an Arctic fish. This gene helps to prevent the strawberries from getting spoilt in low temperature regions as well. The GMOs have genes that our digestive system fails to break down. The immune system considers them as a foreign body and creates antibodies leading to auto-immune diseases. Besides, vegetarian people should take care not to consume GM strawberries, because it is equivalent to consuming fish! GM food is associated with significant rise in more than 22 types of serious disorders. Lifestyle diseases like hypertension, diabetes, thyroid disorders, autoimmune disorders, inflammation, dementia, autism and multiple types of cancer are linked to genetically modified food. Unfortunately, these genetically modified seeds are diverted to the third world countries because of poverty and unawareness. They are being supplied in the name of eradicating food insecurities, but in reality, in countries like India, the market are being flooded with disease causing food that will make our farmers dependent on foreign companies, make our land infertile and make our population sick. Anyone looking forward to a healthy and happy life must eliminate all kinds of GM foods from the diet and stick to organically grown Non-GMO food.
Meal time prayer
Each and every culture has a ritual to pray before a meal. Prayer helps us appreciate whatever food is served to us instead of finding faults with it. It helps us to be grateful and happy for our food which stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system that creates the optimal environment for proper digestion for our food. If you are happy and satisfied with the food, it will become elixir for your body. Gratefulness is a very comprehensive state of mind that includes acceptance, satisfaction, and delight. Therefore, let us all pray before our meals, more for our own good than for the God.