How we eat food is as important as what we eat. These 5 simple food tips that look at how to eat properly can serve as a guide and help a person get the best out of the food they eat.
1: How Much To Eat?
Studies have found that the human brain works best when the stomach is empty. Researchers found that an empty stomach produces ghrelin, a hormone that carries the message to the brain that the stomach is hungry. The interesting thing is that this hormone seems to perform other functions as well.
Ghrelin stimulates and heightens the performance of the hippocampus, the region in the brain that handles learning, memory and spatial analysis, keeping us alert, active and focused. This of course doesn’t imply that we should never eat, but rather points to the fact that we should be conscious of how much we eat. Yogi and mystic, Sadhguru, elaborates on how we can get the best out of our day by optimizing our consumption of food.
“You shouldn’t keep eating through the day. If you are below thirty years of age, three meals a day will fit well into your life. If you are over thirty, it is best to reduce it to two meals a day. Our body and brain work at their best only when the stomach is empty.
Be conscious and eat in such a way that within two-and-a-half hours, the food moves out of the stomach bag, and within twelve to eighteen hours, it is completely out of the system. If you maintain this simple awareness, you will experience much more energy, agility and alertness.”
2: Chew On This!
The second of our food tips for healthy eating is something you’ve probably heard your parents tell you a million times as a kid: Chewing your food properly plays an important role in digestion. Studies show that for starchy foods, 30% of digestion happens with saliva. After a meal, give a break of at least two hours before going to bed.
Digestion raises your metabolic activity. If you sleep in such a state, you will neither sleep well nor digest well! Depending on what you ate, a large portion of the food can go undigested if you sleep immediately after eating.
Sadhguru also gives us the yogic perspective on chewing your food.
“In yoga we say, ‘If you take a morsel of food, you must chew it twenty-four times.’ There is a lot of science behind this, but essentially, one thing is your food gets pre-digested in your mouth and will not cause dullness in your system.
Another thing is, if you chew twenty-four times, the information of that food gets established in your system and every cell in your body will be able to start judging as to what is right and not right for you – not in terms of the tongue but about what is appropriate for the whole system. If you do this for some time, every cell in the body will have the education as to what it likes and does not like.”
It is also advisable to avoid drinking water during meals. Drink a little water a few minutes before the meal or thirty to forty minutes after the meal. Drinking water can be left standing overnight in a copper vessel. This destroys bacteria, and energizes the water powerfully. Copper surfaces tested in hospital Intensive Care Units (ICUs) have been found to kill 97% of the bacteria that are capable of causing hospital-acquired infections.
3: The Right Food For The Right Time
Sadhguru elaborates on the tradition of eating different foods in different seasons, and how this practice helps the body cope with changing weather.
“In India and especially in South India, during summer, the food is cooked in one way, during the rainy season in another way and in winter another way, according to the vegetables available at that time and what is suitable for the body. It is good to bring in that wisdom and eat as per the needs of the body and according to the weather or climate we live in.
For example, when December comes, there are certain foods which produce heat in the body like sesame and wheat. In winter, the skin usually breaks because the climate becomes cold and people don’t traditionally use creams and things like that. So, everyone ate sesame on a daily basis.
It keeps the body warm and the skin clean. With lots of heat in the body your skin won’t break. In summer the body gets hot. So, cooling foods were eaten. For example, in Tamil Nadu, they eat kambu (pearl millet). These things were fixed so that the body is able to adjust itself for that season.”
4: A Balanced Diet
Number three among our tips on how to eat properly is a pretty obvious one: maintaining a balanced diet. But you needn’t get caught up in the confusing maze of vitamins, carbohydrates, proteins and what not, and try to balance it all out.
Sadhguru explains a few basics that will help maintain a balanced diet. He looks at the importance of bringing in enough vegetables, lentils, pulses and multiple types of grains in our diet.
“Today, doctors are saying that nearly 80 million Indians are heading to be diabetic. One of the reasons for this is because most Indian people are on a single-cereal diet. People are eating either only rice or only wheat. This can definitely cause health problems. It is important to bring in a multigrain diet in one’s life.
Traditionally, people always ate lots of grams, pulses, legumes and many kinds of grains. But slowly those things have gone away, and if you look at a South Indian’s plate today, there will be so much rice and just a little bit of vegetable. This is a serious problem.
This shift to a total carbohydrate diet that has happened in the last twenty-five or thirty years needs to be reversed because a person’s long-term health will be seriously affected if they just eat lots of carbohydrate and very little of other things. This is a basic conceptual change which needs to happen in people’s minds.
The majority of the diet should not be rice but all the other things. Rice is your choice – whether you want to eat or not, you decide according to your hunger levels.”
5: There Are No Good Food Habits!
In the last of our food tips for healthy eating, Sadhguru reminds us that food is about the body, and the best way to decide what to eat is to ask the body. He explains that rather than developing eating habits which only make us function repetitively, it is better to decide on our food consciously through our intelligence.
Please do note that these general tips on how to eat properly are applicable to most people, but of course, everyone’s body is a unique construct and people with specific health issues should consult a physician before making any changes in diet or food intake.