In terms of creating internal vitality, our diet creates every physical foundational block. The food you eat defines your vitality and physical function. If you eat poor quality food, your body has to work harder, and your body will lack nutrition which causes more food cravings, which causes over eating.
For the first time in history, younger children are more unhealthy than their parents. We are seeing young people with health problems like high blood pressure, diabetes, child obesity, and sleep apnea. How is that happening?
The major point I want to make is: have your calories count. All calories are not created equal. A carrot has more nutrients than a slice of bread. Some calories come with revitalizing and energizing nutrients. So eating the same amount of calories of carrots is more nutritious for your body than the bread.
The "Western diet" is a diet high in refined food. This came about in the 50's and 60's as a convenience. Fats and flour were processed to make them last longer. But through our manufacturing ingenuity we have tricked ourselves into diminishing our health.
Common refined foods:
- High fructose corn syrup
- Refined white flour
- Refined white sugar
Refined foods cause inflammation, and changes in the body that not favorable in the body... ever. I won't say never to eat them, but think of them as treats, and use in moderation.
Majority of the snacks you find in Gurdwara have these refined foods as the top ingredients. This makes me question if we are nurturing our spirit, because the these nutrients contribute to us having the capacity to meditate deeply.
In the Ayurvedic system we think of these processed foods as creating "amma" (sludge) in our "srotas" (channels of circulation in the body corresponding to the internal organs). These channels open us up to higher intuition, and spiritual knowledge, so when there is amma, our channels are being clogged by the thickness of these processed foods.
Our ancestors ate naturally. They ate seasonally and what was naturally and locally available. We had an intuitive process of eating. But now our whole way of relating to foods has changed, and we can get any kind of food in the grocery store. We often don't think about the lengths the food industry goes to transport and preserve the freshness of these foods. Remember this when you go to the grocery store, especially when shopping with your kids.
A tremendous amount of the marketing goes towards getting your kids into unhealthy products. Parents may know this all too well when their kids throw temper tantrums in the grocery aisle to get that sugary snack that they just "need". It's a very corrupt system, and it makes it harder for us to know what is healthy. Because of the age we live in, intuitive process of eating is no longer present.
1 - Prepare your food fresh. Avoid eating from a can or prepackaged meal. Learn to make your meals from scratch.
2 - Avoid white flour, use whole grains instead.
3 - Avoid high fructose corn syrup. Read the ingredients before you buy something because this is in a lot of food products.
4 - Avoid refined white sugar. Try your Chah without sugar, or just drink water instead.
Basmati food is satvic. Deep fried foods, meat and alcohol are tamasic.
Everyone has their own journey to take with their health. Don't be intimidated thinking that you have to know everything. Start with small steps towards better health. Try out the 2 fundamentals mentioned above and see if it improves the meditative quality of your mind.
- Dr. Siri Chand Kaur Khalsa
Medical Doctor & MS in Ayurvedic Medicine