In Ayurveda, food is medicine. Both food and spices can be used vis-à-vis the person’s pathology and constitution, age, psyche, place, time and strength of the body. The general guidelines and concepts are rooted in the ancient texts of Ayurveda and are observed still today by modern Ayurvedic doctors. For a food or a drug to be considered a good medicine it must have the following attributes:
a) Availability – The substance must be available in sufficient quantity.
b) Suitability – The substance must be suitable for both the condition as well as the tolerability of the client/patient.
c) Multiple possibilities in preparation – The substance can be prepared in multiple ways.
d) Enrichment – The substance must possess quality, taste, potency and postdigestive effect and be fresh. There are a few exceptions – clarified butter, honey, cereal, long pepper and others are exempt from the rule and should instead be used when old.
Substances used can be of plant origin, animal origin or mineral origin. The general Ayurvedic rules of good eating habits stem from the following verses:
One should eat warm, unctuous, in proper quantity, after the previous food is digested, non-antagonistic, in favorable place, with all favorable accessories, not too fast, not too slow, not while talking or laughing and with full concentration after due consideration to the self. (Ca. Vi. I vs 24)
As we are all provided with just a specific amount of digestive fire we should:
• not disperse the digestive fire by overindulging in food
• not create toxicity by eating in between meals if previous meal is undigested
• not have our psyche fall victim to disturbances by being in loud environments or dirty/distracting environments while eating as digestive fire gets dispersed
• not allow food to enter into the wrong passage by eating too fast
• not allow food to get cold by eating too slow
• not allow the mind and digestive fire to go and digest thoughts instead of food.
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