Happy Saturday everyone. Welcome to FAVOURRUARY CHALLENGE, where we do favours for ourselves. What kind of favours - all sorts and mostly by letting go - not so good habits, not that pleasant relationships, nasty, toxic stuff what doesn't serve us anymore. So we have space in our bodies and minds for beautiful things to arrive.
Just a quick catch up, we have already let go one bad habit, one toxic item from our beauty routine and the very crappy disease of comparisonitis. How about we let go today one more bad habit? What about a habit of snacking? Do you snack? How often? What do you snack on?
There are lots of opinions about if we should or should not snack. And I will take an Ayurvedic approach, the 5000 years old wisdom of life. According to Ayurveda and tested + proven by my very fussy digestive system, we really should not snack. I have written an article on my blog (press here to read it) about how we should be eating, you can always go back to it to understand the importance of HOW not just WHAT we should be eating. But why not, why it's bad to snack throughout the day? I am someone who has all sorts of digestive issues (thanks to all antibiotics I was fed when I was a baby, STRESS from very early age till pretty much a few years ago being my everyday companion, oral contraceptive pills taken for more than decade, most likely inherited heavy metals and other bit and bobs) and I was always eating very healthy, and literally nothing had a major impact. Yes some temporary improvements, but nothing significant. And I have tried lots of things starting from being vegetarian, pescatarian, vegan, whole food plant based, high card low to almost no fat whole food plant based activist, even tried paleo/keto diet - aka high fat and protein for a while, which btw completely f**ked up my digestive system (although I was not even touching meat and dairy). Whatever I did, I was still getting bloated, flatulated, having diarrhoea, constipation or both, used to have ridiculous skin issues (which to treat I was prescribed even more antibiotics and steroid creams, thanks, NHS).
Nevertheless, I found the solution, which really works, it's ridiculously simple - no snacking and leaving time for the food to actually get digested and stomach acid to built back up before I send another meal down. Additionally not eating or snacking before I go to bed, which means I do not take any food after 6-6:30 pm. I am not saying I never ever snack or have food after 6 pm, but most of the time I don't. I just removed this habit from my daily routine. I do snack if I get hungry between meals and I try to snack on fruits, which are the easiest to digest, the glucose is readily available and quickly absorbed to nourish the brain cells and give the energy till next meal without compromising the timing of it. So I can still be hungry and ready to eat lunch or dinner at the regular time.
I have to confess I was a well-trained snacker. I could just eat throughout the day without having a proper normal meal: a bit of nuts, a bit of avocado on toast, a bit of dates, a bit of bananas with tahini, etc. And I am very truthful here, I wasn't binging on candies and cakes, I was binging very 'healthily' or at least seemingly healthy, but because I never allowed more than 2 hours of the break between foods I was never feeling well. Also because I was binging/snacking all day long in the latish evening I would cook dinner for myself and my partner and eat it not only pretty late but not even being properly hungry. And of course that was causing indigestion, low stomach acid, bloating and other fun stuff.
So here's what Ayurveda backs up on my own story. Ayurveda teaches that we should allow enough time between meals for the food to be completely digested. If we do not, there is a tendency for undigested food from the previous meal to remain in the digestive tract. The undigested remains grow bacteria, which encourage excess gas and bloating. Excess bacteria leads to a build-up of toxins in the body, either in the blood or stored in fat cells. The toxic residue of poor digestion, called ama, can lead to a host of health conditions, including obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes. Remember most of the diseases starts in your gut. Keep the gut, more precisely gut bacteria, healthy and balanced and you will have a great health.
I will not go to the detail about 3 different doshas (your body constitution), but in general, you should allow a minimum of 3 hours between meals (that includes snacks). For some of us it can be as long as 5-6 hours. Just listen to your body and tune in to its needs. So here are a few things to consider:
Snacking is not forbidden per se, have a light snack when you are legitimately hungry and it will never be earlier than 3 or more hours after you had a proper meal, you do not have to count hours in between your meals, I will remind you, again and again, LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. Do not eat out of pleasure, boredom or as a stress relief as it will not help, it will make it only worse in your head and to a burden on to the digestive system.
Have your snacks light: fruits especially mono fruits (one kind of fruit at the time instead of fruit salad) are your best choice because it's digested the quickest, the glucose gets absorbed and used most efficiently and you do not clog your digestive system so you are hungry before your next meal.
Drink lots of lukewarm water between each meal, but not later than 30 mins before your meal and 1h after. Leave all sodas and flavoured and/or caffeinated drinks for people who hate themselves.
When you have a full meal or snack: relax and fully enjoy it, do nothing else but eat.
Do not overeat. Stop eating when you are almost full. Eating slowly and chewing your food properly really helps to achieve that.
Try to make lunch your main meal.
Avoid late night meals or snacks. Take your last meal or snack no later than 7 pm and work your way to 6 pm.
Do healthy exceptions, following anything 100% is unhealthy for your mind. If you going out with your friends and having a late night dinner, enjoy it. Try and have something lighter and have some herbal tea once you come back home to help your stomach and liver: fennel, anise, cumin seeds are great also try ginger juice (not tea, as heat kills the enzymes).
And that's it. These rather simple steps helped to fix my digestive system. I am not fully recovered yet, but I am working my way towards perfect digestion and Ayurveda is a great path to follow.