Eat wisely!

'In future I want to cut down a little'

When bad eating habits put a strain on the body, planning to eat less in the future is generally among  the top of the list of good intentions. However, the answer often doesn't lie in a reduced menu or strict fasting since the problem generally only arises when unhealthy eating habits are not the exception, but rather have increasingly become the rule. 'Concepts based on limiting food selection are too one-sided in the long run and are difficult to sustain,' says Dr. Karin Pirc, Medical Director of the Maharishi Ayurveda Private Clinic in Bad Ems, Germany. 'Your metabolism can be weakened and the body can be deprived of important nutrients.' Instead of the expected improved sense of vitality, the exact opposite happens and we become frustrated and discouraged.

The concept of nutrition in Maharishi Ayurveda is based on thousands of years of experience. Apart from the quality of the food, the functionality of the digestive system in particular must be considered in order to best supply the body with important vital substances. Only food that can be properly digested and absorbed impacts your physiology positively. If your metabolism is disturbed, metabolic residues and waste are deposited, thus weakening the tissue, disrupting the inner balance and possibly causing abdominal fullness, tiredness, headaches, indisposition or weight problems.

A stone in the stomach

'Avoid heavy food in the evening.' That is the most important recommendation of the American Ayurvedic doctor and book author Dr. Nancy Lonsdorf. 'This really cannot be said often enough, as most people who are watching their diet and resort to special slimming products still make the mistake of eating food that is too heavy in the evening', explains the Medical Director of The Raj Ayurveda Health Centre in the US state of Iowa. Ayurveda believes that the digestive power decreases towards the end of the day. 'Because we are moving about less and go to bed a few hours after eating, the body has no opportunity to process the food properly. A factor that can disrupt sleep, stress the body's functions and negatively impact weight', Dr. Lonsdorf stresses. The main meal of the day should instead be taken at noon when agni, the digestive fire in Ayurveda, is at its strongest.

Another useful tip, as Ayurvedic practitioners know, is to drink hot water at each meal time or throughout the day. This helps to loosen metabolic waste and satisfy feelings of hunger between meals. The frequency is far more important than the quantity of liquid. Two or three sips hourly or half-hourly should suffice. 'Boil the water first for ten minutes so that it loses its heaviness and is energised', Dr. Lonsdorf advises. To avoid having to prepare fresh water continuously, simply keep it hot in a thermos flask.

Eat fresh, feel fresher

According to Ayurveda, the body absorbs nutrients from freshly prepared, hot meals. Reheated or precooked food is taboo. 'Food imparts energy and life force, which is referred to in Ayurveda as Prana. The level of Prana is reduced when food cools down and is destroyed by reheating. The individual nutrients become difficult to digest and cannot be utilised optimally,' explains Dr. Nancy Lonsdorf. The Ayurvedic diet plan therefore includes mainly light, easily digestible, naturally left foods that are spiced in a well-balanced manner. Not too cold and not too hot, dishes should ideally contain all six flavours, i.e. sweet, sour, salty, spicy, bitter and tart. For this you can also use the Maharishi Ayurveda spice mixtures.

Making headway in a fun way

'Keep moving' is the final recommendation of Ayurveda expert Nancy Lonsdorf. Yoga and gentle sports like hiking, cycling, Nordic Walking, golf or swimming stimulate your metabolism, are good for your mental equilibrium and optimally balance the stress of everyday work. 'Simply leave the car behind and use every additional opportunity to get moving,' Dr. Lonsdorf adds.

So, first take a lovely meal, and then take a walk in the open air.