The past two weeks we have delved into the subject of nutrition. We’ve talked about taste, post digestive effects, potency, seasonal eating…the subject actually continues on from here and goes deeper and deeper.
Since the subject of what to eat is so complicated, it can be extremely difficult to stick to a healthy diet. Everyone is unique. All food is unique. There is so much to consider, even when simplified.
But what is most important when it comes to eating? What should I prioritize above all else?
As should be no shock to you by now, I’ve said it before:
It’s more important how you eat than what you eat.
Basically, in this order:
– Eating properly and in accordance with the healthy eating guidelines.
– Choosing the right foods.
When those two things are done correctly, 90% of all digestive issues you have will be cured. It’s all the other complicated stuff that makes up that 10%.
But if all one has to do is pick some relatively fresh and authentic foods and prepare and eat them with mindfulness, then why is it so hard for everyone?
The truth is, there are inhibiting factors when it comes to patient compliance.
When we have a person come to our practice and ask us for help with an issue, the vast majority will want a solution that involves little participation on their part, and is line with what they are used to.
So if I tell them to sit down at a meal, say grace, prepare the body for digestion, avoid distractions, chew the food slowly until it is a paste, and then swallow…most people will not have the time, faith, or courage to do so.
So they will then ask for some meal plan they can have. But then there will be many items on that plan that they are reluctant to give up or try.
So then we will have to go to teas or herbs. Even then, still some people will not be willing to change.
Without your compliance as the patient, there is little Ayurveda can do for you. This is the most important part of nutrition: Your willingness to be healthy.
We have this idea in our heads as a society that we are somehow separate from nature. That we are not subject to the same rules as the plants and animals and environment. But if we just change our lifestyle to be more in accordance with the laws of nature, then we won’t experience disease. But we want to believe that we are special and different from all of existence.
Tired? I don’t need sleep! I’ll just have caffeine.
Feeling weak? I don’t need more nutrition! I just need supplements.
Sick? I don’t need to change my habits, just give me a pill!
But regardless of whether or not we create it or nature creates it, we are a part of that nature. So anything we create is natural. It just may not be naturally occurring. And where mother nature has had millions of years to evolve conditions for life, we tinker for a few decades and believe we can do better, without causing harm or side effects.
We may even be successful from time to time, curing diseases and saving lives! But our priorities are all skewed. The vast majority of the nature we manipulate is not to make existence more healthy for us. We manipulate it to make it more profitable. To lengthen it’s life but not the quality of life. To shave as many hours as we can off of the things we need to do to survive (eating and sleeping) in order to be more productive in society.
We continually sacrifice our health in order to create things that can then rectify that health.
It seems a bit backwards.
This is why Ayurveda is a science of personal responsibility. In order for it to work, you have to put in the work. Ayurveda has outlined the causes of disease. We know that by knowing your nature, the nature of the disease, and the nature of the medicine, we can help you. Ayurveda has categorized things into Doshas and Gunas, to make it easier to understand. It offers a model to view the world and based on that model, we can find the most harmonious ways to live.
But you always have a choice.
If you don’t have time because you are too busy – then you have to reevaluate your priorities and make time for yourself to practice healthier habits.
If you are afraid of being present, being still, being mindful – then you have to have faith that it will all be okay, and trust that it is the right path.
If you are afraid of what others will think – you need to let go of that desire to be socially acceptable, and hope your example will help them to be healthier too.
Finally, if you afraid of being healthy – Talk to a CAS. Everyone feels this way. You are not alone in this. We all must find courage, but you don’t have to start by doing it alone.
If you come to a CAS with an open heart and mind, and are willing to change your diet and your lifestyle, you can find a level of health that few in today’s society have. But if you come in with reluctance, then I challenge you to practice being more open.
Ayurveda will only ever take you as far as you are willing to take yourself.