Food matters

Food, as the elders used to say "We should eat to live, not live to eat."

The question before most people is:

What foods should we eat?

Our food should be fruits, vegetable and grains that grow within a 200 km radius of where we live. This is because the topography of our land changes approximately every 200 km and this affects what is grown and hence what is consumed in the region.

This also means that our eating habits are linked to the seasonal produced of the land. so during the summer months we will get food like melons, mangoes, cucumber, jack fruit which have high content of water to help to stay cool in summer. In the rainy months you get a different crops of vegetables and fruits which provide heat to the system and during winter months you have grains that are used in a varieties of ways again to heat up the system. This is the broad pattern applicable to all region with variations in the type of food and fruits available.

For example, in the late summer you get ripened jack fruits, which are preserved for chips candies, happala's for the rainy season, particularly along the coastal belt. Jack fruits are not available inland, so inland you get a variety of foods like grapes, and vegetables like cucumber which serve the same purpose as the coastal region, but, in a different way.

So, we need to eat what is available in the correct season. This point needs to be emphasized because due to improved methods of agriculture products, transportation, preservation, it is possible that water melon during the winter brought from outside 200 km radius and so if we eat watermelon in winter invariably we open ourself to attacks of cold and fevers. That is why, given a choice, always insist on seasonal fruits and vegetables from within 200 km radius.

Which food should we eat is a controversial question to be discussed. Though there has been an argument for vegetarianism and a counter argument for a non-vegetarianism, it is up to an individual to decide which food suits him/her well.

Yogic way of explaining this is, one should always eat that food which has Prana (the life force) in it. Vegetarian foods have ample of Prana in them. So Yoga always emphasizes for vegetarianism. Pure, fresh, organically grown seasonal and local foods and fruits are good. Here we would like to introduce you to the work done by an American Naturopath, Dr. Richard D'Adamo who in his path breaking words "Eat Right for '4' your type" proposes that a person diet should be linked to his or her blood group.

Vegetarians argue that human intestines are too long to merely digest meat, when compared with the carnivorous animals. Carnivorous animals have short intestines.

The non-vegetarians argue that humans are predators because they have eyes in front and all the predators have their eyes in front like the lion, tiger, owl, etc. Whereas, the prey, which are herbivorous, have their eyes to the sides like deer, cow, elephant.

They also say that humans by Nature were designed to be a hunters.

How much quantity of food should we eat?

Most of the argument has centered around the so called balanced diet of "X" amount of Carbohydrate, Protein, Fat which together measured in terms of calories of output and this again is fixed or is related to the type of work you do. Where a calorie intake of "X" calories/day is considered to be the minimum for a person involved in physical labor. On closer examination, we find that most of these charts, figures and experiments has been done in the West and transferred to Indian condition without any alteration. This means that the generally smaller physique of the Indian is not considered, nor are the climatic factors are considered. The west is normally in a temperate zone, whereas Asia and India particularly is in a tropical zone. These factors needs to be considered when we consider the question of the quantity of food.

Traditionally the Indian pattern of eating has consisted of a main meal in the morning, tiffin in the afternoon, evening and second meal at early night. But with the change in lifestyle we have tended to move in to a different pattern altogether. Given all this it is always good to remember what the elders use to say "Eat 1/3 of your capacity, let 1/3 of it be for the liquids and the rest for the air". This is still a good principle to follow. The question how much should we eat has not been seriously considered by modern dieticians and nutritionists.

How should we eat our food?

While eating you must eat mindfully with total involvement. These days, with the busy schedules that people have, most eat while working, walking, watching television, discussing etc. This must be avoided as it interferes with act of eating and also digesting. One must always select a peaceful place to eat, without hurrying he/she must chew the food well. The process of digestion begins within the mouth, the saliva in the mouth has a digestive enzyme - ptyalin - that aids in digestion of carbohydrates, so one must chew the food well and mix thoroughly with saliva and then swallow the bolus.

With all above details we would like to conclude: "Eat the right, energetic, pure, organically grown, freshly prepared food that suits you well".