I had a friend in college whose dad was a researcher who played in a rock n roll band with other scientists. They were a bunch of Yale professors who wrote songs about science, one of them making fun of nutritional science. There are so many contrasting theories in nutrition and the advice seems to change seasonally. And it all depends on who you ask – everyone can make a good argument. Below I’ve given mine, informed by my studies in Ayurveda.
Ayurveda is an ancient healing science whose specialty is digestion. Western and modern science is now recognizing and confirming a lot of what Ayurveda has been saying all along – the root of all disease begins in the gut. Therefore, to optimize health, you’ve got to get your digestion in good working order.
Now obviously as a culture, we aren’t because degenerative and autoimmune disease is only increasing. Digestive disorders are so commonplace that most people don’t think twice if they’re bloated, constipated or have heartburn – just pop a tums and keep on keepin on!
The problem is that while indigestion or gas is often tolerated as a normal inconvenience, it’s actually our body trying to signal that something is off and we need to pay attention. But, it’s so much easier to just pop a pill then actually look at how, when and what we’re eating – there’s too much baggage around that.
However, that discomfort down in your belly might be a warning sign and precursor for something much more serious and life-threatening down the road. Something that might not be so easily alleviated with a Band-Aid relief. Pill now, pay later.
A common diet recommendation is to eat 4-6 small meals a day to stave off hunger and keep you going like the energizer bunny. However, most people don’t feel like they’re running on full batteries. How can you if you’re turning on the digestion button every few hours – of course you’re going to run out of juice!
Low energy is one of the biggest health complaints I get. In Ayurveda, low energy is a sign of ama, or toxic build-up. Ama literally means “uncooked”, and refers to undigested food or experiences that adheres to weak tissues in the body and makes us sick. It’s said to have the consistency of yogurt. Ew.
It’s like this – imagine that you want to cook some rice. You take one cup of rice and 2 cups of water. Now, instead of waiting the 15-20 minutes until it’s done, in 10 minutes you add another cup of rice and 2 more cups of water. Then in 10 minutes you do that again. After 30 minutes you have a bowl of half overcooked, half uncooked mush that is unpalatable. That is your body on 4-6 small meals a day. Instead of allowing your body to fully digest your previous meal, you load another one on top of it. Your poor digestion is working overtime and not leaving any energy for what you really want to be focusing on! Not to mention your blood sugar is being put on a virtual rollercoaster!
What does this mean for you? It means no snacking. It means 2 or at the very most 4 square meals a day, depending on your constitution. If you have slow, sluggish digestion, eat less meals, if you have a stomach of steel and can eat anything, 3 solid meals will do the trick. It you’re slight and small framed – you might need 4 meals daily.
It comes down to honoring your body and your digestion. If you keep abusing it or ignoring its needs, it will retaliate eventually – it’s just a matter of time. Changing your eating patterns takes time and dedication. But you efforts will pay off with increased energy and even shedding unwanted pounds!