Boosting the digestive system
The ayurvedic approach to a balanced diet, nutrition and a well functioning body system goes back to ancient times and is interestingly still practiced today, keeping the mind and body free from illness.
It is important to know how to eat properly when ones digestion is not functioning optimally. In this instance a lighter diet is recommended and is most beneficial when one has a fever, flu, cold or diarrhoea, when one is recuperating from an illness, or during a rejuvenation program. Women should eat a lighter diet during menstruation and menopause. Children often need light yet nutritious diets. If you are under the care of a physician, or before making changes to your existing diet, it is recommended that you check with your physician first before embarking on any changes to your lifestyle.
During those periods when internal systems are functioning at less than optimal levels, the fire of digestion becomes weak and one has to gradually increase the strength of the digestive fire to regain energy and health. Neither a heavy diet nor fasting is recommended during these times. When the digestive fires are low, consuming heavy foods and meals can overtax the digestion. Any existing imbalance in body and mind is then further aggravated by the accumulation of, toxic residue from undigested food.
A light diet consists of food that quickly transforms into bodily tissue, creating new healthy cells. These foods are lighter and therefore digest quickly and easily. The single most important food in the light diet from a vital health perspective is split mung dahl. Available at most supermarkets and Asian stores. They are green mung beans that have been split and skinned. They cook quickly and balance all the bodies system, a nutritious combination of rice, mung beans, vegetables, spices, is an excellent one-dish meal for people on lighter diets.
If one is ill and has little or no appetite then a special warm drink may be made from either split mung beans or organic brown rice. 1-2 litres of this nutritious warm drink can be taken through the day in between light meals. This nutritious water delivers instant nutrition to the body. It provides carbohydrates, giving the body energy, and helps build more strength in the body in general. The water is an excellent source of energy whenever the body is dehydrated or depleted from an illness. It is also good if you are trying to lose weight as a satisfying snack during the day. This drink balances the body because it is warm, its watery texture and it balances and because it produces perspiration which releases toxins through the skin. It therefore balances all the body and brings vital health into balance.
To make the vitality and healing drink you will need 14 parts of water, 1 part organic brown rice, a pinch of salt, freshly grated ginger, and cumin. Bring water and rice to a boil. Allow to boil for 1 hour or until the rice becomes swollen and broken. Stir and strain out rice. However it is not necessary to strain out small pieces of rice. Add a pinch each of ginger, ground cumin and salt. Pour into a thermos and drink through the day.
A light diet for breakfast may consist of stewed apples and or pears or hot cereal. Lunch may consist of soupy split mung dahl, basmati rice, cous cous or quinoa, two types of vegetables sauteed with spices, flat bread such as chapati, and a yogurt drink called lassi. Dinner is lighter such a khichri (recipe below) or vegetable barley soup. Or hot cereal such as cream of wheat. When on a light diet, one may eat more frequently, since a light meal should only take about 3 1/2 hours to digest.
Foods to favour: mung dahl, aduki beans, basmati rice, cous cous, barley, quinoa, tofu, cooked vegetables and spices such as turmeric, cumin, ginger, fennel, black pepper and coriander, hot milk with ginger, stewed fruit, fruit and fresh vegetable juices, ripe sweet fruit, chapatti, lassi, ghee and olive oil.
Heavy foods to avoid or reduce: hard cheeses, eggs, fish, meat, chicken. If meat is on your diet then it is recommended having it during the day time in the form of soup that has cooked for a long period of time. Also avoid peanut butter, sprouts, raw vegetables, bananas, cold milk, yogurt (lassi is okay) cold foods and drinks.
¼ cup split mung dahl
¼ cup basmati rice
6 cups water
1 teaspoon clarified butter or olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon or lime juice
2 teaspoons mixed spices comprising of Cumin, ginger, fenugreek, coriander, cardamom, fennel seeds and turmeric
1 teaspoon chopped cilantro leaves
Salt to taste
Rinse rice and dahl. Add water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a low boil and continue cooking for about 55 minutes or longer if you wish a thicker consistency. In a separate pan, heat the ghee. Add the spice blend and saute briefly, about 30 seconds or until aroma is let off. Add to rice and dahl. Add salt, lemon juice and cilantro. Stir well and serve.