Ayurvedic eating etiquettes are highly evolved. Knowing how to eat is of as much importance as knowing what to eat and what not to eat. According to Charaka’ -ancient Ayurvedic scholar following things should be kept in mind while eating to derive nourishment for body, mind and soul.
1. Warm (Ushnam) Food should always be warm. Warm food is always more tempting and draws all our senses to food. Warmth makes the food digestible by increasing the ‘agni‘ ( fire element ) and it also pacifies ‘Vata’ and ‘Kapha’.
2. Unctuous/greasy (Snigdham)
Anything that we eat should have some unctuous /greasy character. Unctuousness is an integral quality of human body. It gives all the benefits of warmth along with the following:
- Nourishment of the body (anabolic effects)
- Nourishment of the sense organs
- Improvement in complexion
3. Quantity (Matra)
Food should be eaten in appropriate quantity. Heavy foods like cheese,black grams,meat e.t.c. should be consumed half of the satiation levels while light foods like oats can be consumed three fourths. Eating in the right quantity promotes life span ,keeps all doshas in balance ,digests,absorbs and assimilates well and the waste product is expelled with ease.
Food should only be consumed when:
- One is feeling hungry
- Burps are clean
- One is relieved of urge to micturate and defecate
Food consumed in this manner will nourish all the ‘dhatus’ (tissues and fluids) and promote longevity.
5. No incompatible foods (Virya avirudha)
Incompatible foods should not be consumed together. For e.g. fish and milk, yogurt and radish e.t.c. Such foods when consumed together will create imbalance of doshas and block the microchannels.
6. Desirable ambience (Isht deshe)
Eat in a calm and comfortable atmosphere, using proper cutlery . Traditionally gold, silver,copper ,iron (nowadays steel ) were used . Gold and silver were used by the nobility . In today’s setting steel and copper are much better options than plastic and silver foils. Eating in undesirable ambience will result in apprehensive mind.
7. Neither too fast nor too slow (Na atidrut Na ativilambit)
If eaten too fast ,food enters unwanted channels and does not stay in the stomach for proper digestion to take place. Even the best of foods do not give desired benefits when eaten too fast. If we eat too slowly we don’t feel satiated and end up overeating. Moreover the food gets cold and results in ‘ama’ (toxin) formation.
8. Be mindful (Tanmana)
One should be focussed and not talk or laugh while eating.Human mind is supposed to do one work at a time but we have conditioned ourselves in a way that we are busy holding discussions,watching t v,reading e.t.c. while eating. One should use all the 5 senses while eating to make it a blissful act rather than a routine affair.Enjoy the colours,taste ,smell texture of food and the sound of mastication for increasing the urge. All the etiquettes should be adopted in unison to make eating a blissful act .