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Savouring each morsel s-l-o-w-l-y, while you eat, is meditative nourishment for your mind, body and soul.
Eating well is not everything. It is what and how you eat that makes you what you are. When you eat for wholeness, you are filled with the spirit of thankfulness and spiritual union.
This is the basic idea of what may be called as yogic diet – the thought that goes into what we eat and how we eat, while doing as little harm as may be possible.
Today, many of us dutifully eat a diet low in fat, with more helpings of nourishing vegetables, grains, cereals, and fruits. We often talk of this simple diet plan as being highly effective in clearing our arteries. Not many of us, however, realise the many other benefits that are simultaneously taking place when we eat high fibre and nourishing food.
Food is, in essence, a spiritual bond in most cultures – a point that we have insensitively ignored at our own expense.
Experts believe that choosing and preparing food consciously gives us its life-giving properties. This explains why among religious traditions, some orthodox Hindus, for instance, do not eat certain vegetables. Native Americans, on the other hand, to think of another example, speak to the soul of the animal before the killing, and swear not to waste anything.
It goes without saying that animals and other beings can tell us more than something when we practice living with a non-harming attitude. You can also expand on this “Zen” feeling when you prepare food keeping a gentle attitude in mind. Choose whatever you wish to eat by all means, but do it with non-violence in mind and heart.
We are today becoming increasingly aware of what our food contains. But, the fact is – many of us are at a loss to explain how we are affected by it, though we know how our bodies need certain nutrients to maintain optimal health.
Medical research and scientific studies are today co-relating a high fibre and low-fat diet with the prevention and even reversal of heart disease and cancer. This is a concept that has been made famous by Dr Dean Ornish and his celebrated treatment plan for reversing heart disease.
The reason is simple – many of us are becoming consciously aware that we are eating too much fat, sugar, and salt into our bodies. To most, however, the food we eat is more than a combination of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals that our bodies need to maintain health.
One great way to determine if something is nourishing to the body is by knowing how close you are to its natural state. What’s more, one effective way of doing this is by reading the labels on the food you eat. If you, for any reason, do not understand what a given food label says, just do not eat the food. The idea is straightforward – nutritious foods are generally simple. There is no need to add or improve it for any reason.
Besides, it is also best not to go for fancy diets that make you guess what you are eating, or what it will do to your body. There is also a catch – for all the information or awareness we have for low-fat, or fibre, food – we tend to quite often ignore the fact that we are also feeding our emotional bodies. The reason being – food in any form is thought to be physical, not emotional.
This belief is wrong.
Food is as much emotional as it is physical. To illustrate a common example – the moment we don’t feel nourished, we tend to overeat and snack on empty calories to comfort ourselves with high fat. In addition, thanks to our extremely busy life and schedules, we also ease ourselves by eating large quantities of food irregularly, and without much thought. This, in other words, simply means – we are not eating consciously with our mind!
Which brings us to the large question – are we being nourished at all three levels: physical, physiological, and psychological? The answer is a big no!
The problem lies with us, in spite of the fact that many of us are conscious of what makes a wholesome diet.
To bring home the point, with an everyday example. When you have breakfast, you keep yourself hooked onto mind-grabbing newspaper headlines, or TV. A terrorist attack, a bomb explosion, or a building collapse. This is no way to enjoy a breakfast. Lunch, likewise, is a quick bite, at the desk, or car. During the process, you have a sandwich in one hand, and cell phone in the other. The evening supper is a breeze – that is, if you find any time for it.
It is not possible for us to enjoy, digest, and assimilate food when our mind is preoccupied. We also “chew,” automatically, or gulp food so quickly, with our mind focused on the stock market. This is an unhealthy practice.
Enough reason why there is a glut of pills and digestive aids on the market – to help us take care of a bad tummy, gas, indigestion, constipation, and diarrhoea. It forms what may be called a multi-million drug industry, which is capitalising on what we are not doing properly. That is – not being conscious while we are eating!
Another equally bad idea is going out for a business lunch. The idea, in spite of its convenience, is not good. All the more reason to avoid it, if possible, because when the topic of conversation gets difficult, you tend to eat more! Besides, you don’t remember to have eaten anything, at the end of the meeting. Meet by all means; but, don’t meet and eat. Or, better still, either eat or meet. Don’t do both, at the same time.
We all know that digestion begins in the mouth and stomach. Does your mouth not water in anticipation of your favourite dish? It does – because, even if your mouth did not actually taste it, your digestive system is working ahead by stimulating the thinking process.
This means that your digestion really begins in the mind. So, the best thing you could do is – provide your mind food for thought to chew well, relish your food all along the way, and assimilate it, s-l-o-w-l-y. If you practice this simple mantra, day-in and day-out, you will not pop a pill to correct a bad stomach by way of habit.
Another equally important thing to do is to remember the love for food your grandma, or mom, bestowed. This was the magic ingredient that gave you so much happiness, even when you ate foods such as sweets, cookies, and chocolate. So there you are, and the bottom line is – you need to remember that all big food chain stores and jazzy or natural food outlets cannot give you love.
Get the point? When your palate soars with the anticipated joy of wholesome and lovesome food, your heart also pulsates in the delight!