Eating ought to be enjoyable and enlivening, as it is literally a life-giving act we take every day. When we talk about “eating healthy,” we aren’t talking about it solely so that you can have the “right” amount of calories or nutrients; we’re talking about it because eating foods that make your body feel good and that support your digestive system allows you to live a happier, healthier life over time. No one actually feels good on a diet of donuts and coffee, or soda and packaged foods, or even just on salad and juice. We need a variety of whole-foods grown from the earth, some raw and some cooked, with different spice combinations and colors, so that we can be inspired, excited, enlivened, and satiated. So that we can feel good as we cook, as we eat, as we go about our day with fuel our bodies know how to use. Be mindful of how much packaged and processed food you consume; how much sugar and artificial sweeteners are in your beverages and snacks; and how much caffeine and alcohol you have in a week. Not because it makes you a better person, or because it’s the “right” thing to do; but because it’ll help you on your way to health, to knowing what actually nourishes you (and what doesn’t!) and then choosing what truly nourishes you more often.
Ayurveda tells us that each plant, vegetable, fruit, flower, herb, animal (food) holds within it certain qualities—like elements, tastes, functions, actions, etc.—and that the more we understand about nature, our nature, and how they work together, the better our relationship can be with food, digesting that food, assimilating it, and feeling healthy and clear and vibrant throughout the day. Ayurveda is a wealth of knowledge, so going into the details would take more than one article; however, we will say this: approaching anything (including food and health) from a philosophical standpoint of balance, wholeness, integration, energy is basically what Ayurveda encourages us to do.
So rather than counting calories or comparing our bodies to the bodies of other people, or looking at nutrition facts on labels, Ayurveda encourages us to slow down. To spend time in nature and observe the world around us. To understand that our bodies are more than just physical meat-suits walking about the earth. To recognize that food—nourishment—comes from the earth, and the sun, and the wind, and the rain, and the bugs, and the animals, and literally every single part of life, as a whole. No plant grows as an isolated sprout. No field of herbs or wildflowers or orchards of fruit grow without the help of, or interactions with, thousands (if not millions) of elements, minerals, insects, bacteria, sunlight, water, etc.…
Ayurveda reminds us that we are interconnected beings. And that we are most nourished by what gives us pure energy: clean water, fresh fruit, locally grown vegetables, sunlight, time in nature, rest, supportive and honest conversations with the people in our lives; time for creativity, self-expression, and then service to and support for others in their creative expressions in return. If you’re needing support with digestion, figuring out which foods are best for your body, and some recipe ideas that will work for your schedule, taste buds, and energy, reach out; we’re here to support you in feeling and being your healthiest, most vibrant self!
The Santa Cruz Ayurveda Team