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Upayoga samstha - ayurvedic guidelines on how to eat

Ayurveda reveres fire or agni - it is the metaphor for all metabolic functions in the body. Agni plays a vital role in our digestion, perception, taste, touch, hearing, sense of vitality, mental clarity and alertness. When agni and the functions it supports are balanced, it brings about a beneficial state of health. We are sharper, clearer, more energetic and strong and feel more cheerful, confident and optimistic. When agni is imbalanced we typically feel an imbalanced state of health – heavy, slow, congested, sluggish, dull and experiencing frustration, anger, and fear.

To support agni, ayurveda has guidelines on how to eat, a philosophy called upayoga samstha. The thinking here is that the healthiest of food holds no value if it is consumed in a way that agni cannot receive it, such as when we are rushing, stressed, and eating at the wrong times (e.g. at midnight).
 
Some of these guidelines we would have heard of through the years, but may have not stopped to think about. We also may not have the luxury to practice all of the guidelines at every meal such as sitting down after a meal, or eating freshly cooked meal three times a day. Start small, pick one or two habits that are easy to adopt and make observations of any changes you may feel. Once these become habits, pick a couple more. These are little shifts that bring benefits incremental benefits over time.  

  • Eat warm food

  • Try to eat freshly cooked as much as possible

  • Eat the right quantity of food

  • Chew food thoroughly

  • Eat at a moderate pace

  • Give your body a break in between meals

  • Eat around the same time each day

  • Eat when you’re hungry

  • Don’t eat when you are emotional – e.g. upset/sad/angry/ecstatic

  • Eat in peace

  • Sit down to eat

  • Pay attention to your meal

  • Sit for a few minutes after each meal

Look out for a workshop on this topic coming up later this year, please contact us here here if you wish to attend.