I love food. I live to eat – as opposed to the other way around. I’ve been this way for as long as I can remember. I’ve eaten at all the best restaurants in every city I’ve lived in. But still – nothing, and I do mean nothing, beats my mother’s cooking. She’s simply amazing in the kitchen.
In Gujarati, there’s a saying – hath ma mithas che. There’s a sweetness in her hands. Her food is delicious and it’s good for you. She uses the principles of Ayurveda: one of the world’s oldest holistic (whole-body) healing systems to cook all her meals. Some of her techniques have rubbed off on me. Others, I’ve picked up along the way.
Eating out takes a toll on your body. The truth is – you have NO IDEA what goes into food at restaurants. I’ve worked in catering. There’s so much junk in restaurant food. Most of it is terrible for you. We know it. We somehow can’t stop eating it. If you’re a foodie like me, you simply can’t resist. You want to try everything – especially when it’s bad for you.
Two years ago, I came to Japan with a broken digestive system. My body was mad at me. What have you been eating? Why are you doing this to me? I’m in so much pain. My mother sat down and gave me a good telling off. I didn’t want to hear it, of course. (She was right, though.)
It was time to heal myself.
1. Warm water with lemon and honey before breakfast everyday
Break + fast = Breakfast. When we sleep, we abstain from all food and drink to let our body rest. When we wake up, a warm beverage perks up the digestive system to get it going. As a teacher, this drink has saved my throat many many times over.
2. Mint tea after every meal
Caffeine-free, rehydrating and delicious – I simply can’t live without mint tea these days. I buy it in bulk on iHerb, since I go through so much of it so quickly. For those of you who’ve visited my house, I always serve it at the end of the meal. YUM!
3. Drinking warm water instead of cold water
In Ayurveda, digestive fire is known as agni. Cold water slows agni. At work, I always sip (don’t gulp!) warm water in the office. I don’t know why, but my Asian elders always yelled at me whenever I chugged down water. I stopped doing it, of course.
4. Eating right for the season
In Japan, the food in the supermarkets is always seasonal. In summer that’s fresh fruits, salads, less oily fishes and ‘cold’ foods: like soba, sashimi and sushi. In winter, you’re recommended to eat more stewed, slow-cooked and warm foods: like nabe, oden and soups. You can apply this same principle to any other cuisine.
5. Cooking for your body type, age and level of activity
This topic is way too long for this humble blog post. So… All I’m going to say is that I only eat out once or twice a week these days. Ever since I started cooking, I don’t like eating out as much as I used to. My body likes it even less. A foodie’s tastebuds are very sensitive. Most food out there is too oily, too salty, too sweet and just meh. It also generally doesn’t give you that feeling of satisfaction at the end.
Somewhere deep down, we all know what to do. Eat right. Eat in more. Eat out less. Take care of your body. Be kind to it. Nourish it, nurture it and treat it well. Life’s short enough as it is. Let’s not make it any shorter.