Mindful Eating, Mindful Cooking
Have you ever asked yourself how you feel before choosing what to eat?
By taking a moment before each meal to check in with your body, you can make better food choices that are tailored to your body’s immediate needs. Before you eat a meal, take a moment to get in touch with yourself to see how you feel. Are you feeling sluggish, tired, excited, energetic? Are you gassy or bloated? Are you too hot or too cold?
Knowing how we feel can help us determine what to eat, because food can help bring balance to our mind, body, and soul.
For the past several years I have been studying Ayurveda and living an Ayurvedic lifestyle. Part of the philosophy of Ayurveda includes living life in balance. Food plays a big role in how we feel every day and can help us achieve a balanced life. By understanding the metabolic effects and healing properties of spices, herbs and other ingredients you can cook foods to help balance out your being. Food is delicious. Food gives us fuel. But food can also ground us when we are feeling anxious, give us energy when we are feeling lethargic, cool us down when we are feeling fiery and emotionally unstable. The key is to find out how you feel and use specific ingredients that promote the effects you need to help balance you out.
For example, when I have low energy and I am feeling sluggish, I tend to use herbs like ajwain seed, ginger root, and black pepper because they stimulate digestion and help amp up my metabolism. They wake my system up and get me going. I also tend to eat cooked foods instead of raw foods because our bodies are able to break down cooked food much easier, enabling the nutrients and vitamins to absorb quicker. The result is that we receive the energy much faster. I also tend to drink warm water with cinnamon and cloves when I am feeling sluggish since this combination aids digestion and gives a boost of energy that leaves me feeling satisfied and complete.
Understanding what to eat to achieve a desired effect is important but it is equally important to know what kinds of foods to avoid in order to keep your body functioning optimally. If I am feeling sluggish, for example, I make sure NOT to eat raw kale salad because it requires my body to work very hard to break it down. Additionally, I avoid cooking with coconut oil because coconut oil tends to be heavy on the digestive system. I also avoid using avocado and taro root because, although both foods are very healthy, they are heavy and tend to weigh me down.
Knowing and understanding how to utilize food for how you feel and understanding the healing properties in ingredients is a skill that I like to teach. I believe it can have a transformative effect on how we live our lives and how we see food. Maintaining our energy levels is something that very few of us pay attention to but it has a tremendous effect on our lives, our interpersonal relationships, and our productivity.
As an Ayurvedic chef, I work with individual people that want to cook for themselves and I teach them to see food in a new way. By reviewing ingredients that suit our goals as we chop, saute and have fun in the kitchen, we transform the way we approach food. By being mindful, honoring our bodies, and choosing ingredients that give the body what it needs to feel its best we nourish our entire being.
Be connected to your mind and body. Maintain balance with nurturing foods. Cook for how you feel, feel your best, and live your best life.
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Ryann Morris is passionate about food and nutrition. She strives to inspire others to be more mindful of food and the effects it has on their bodies. She is a graduate of both the Ayurvedic Nutrition And Culinary Training (ANACT) program at Bhagavat Life and the Institute of Integrative Nutrition (IIN) where she was certified as a holistic health coach.