It might not be the first time you've read about Ayurveda, or maybe it is. Some of our previous blogs talk about an Ayurvedic lifestyle and its benefits for yogis, especially regarding nutrition. We are entering the season of office parties, traveling, family gatherings, mile-long grocery lists, and over-indulging. Unfortunately, there are so many unique tempting delights over Christmas that it is hard not to overdo it and accumulate Ama.
What Is Ama in Ayurveda? In Sanskrit, Ama means toxin or undigested metabolic waste. It is an umbrella term for all sticky, slimy, aggravating, and toxic substances accumulated in the body. In a nutshell, Ama is the toxic waste product of incomplete digestion. Festive meals and an abundance of tempting sweets can lead you to over-eat, snack irregularly, and promote Ama's build-up. If this process is unchecked, your body can get clogged up and weaken your immune system. The first symptoms of Ama are lack of energy, bloating, stiffness of joints caused by inflammation, weight gain, and occasional constipation.
So, what is the Ayurvedic solution for conquering Christmas-time Ama? First, keep your digestive fire burning! When that precious digestive fire, which breaks down food to nourish cells and purifies metabolic waste, gets weakened, so does the rest of your body.
The following tips will help:
1. Make Lunch Your Most Important Meal of the Day
A good lunch keeps your metabolism running at its best and can make you snack less in the afternoon or eat a big dinner. Traveling and visiting can be exciting, exhausting, and energizing. The food you enjoy can be delicious, memorable, and heavy. When you want to control what you eat, it can be challenging to stay on a routine when you're not the one cooking. It doesn't mean you can't have that nice warm slice of cornbread but adding more raw vegetables than cheese and crackers from Aunt Melba's beautifully prepared cheese and veggie tray might fill you up faster and keep your digestive fire going. Proteins, vegetables, and fruits ensure you're using all the energy from the excellent food you consume.
2. Only Eat When You Are Hungry
To keep Ama-free and healthy, only eat when you are genuinely hungry. Hunger is the signal that your body has completely processed the last meal. It may be challenging saying "no" to the second slice of your cousin's famous fruit cake, but practicing discipline and intention is key to keeping your digestive system happy. For all the digestive fire to do their work, a large meal can take 5 hours or more, and a smaller meal can take at least 3 hours. Eating before this process disrupts your system, and the partially processed food that remains becomes Ama.
3. Use Herbal Digestive Aids
Let's be honest; you will break the above rules - it happens, especially over Christmas. To give your digestive fire some help: drink warm or hot water between meals, not immediately before or after meals, though sipping warm or hot water during meals is recommended. As a digestive stimulant, before a meal, eat a thin slice of fresh ginger with a bit of lemon juice, honey, and a pinch of salt.
Ginger or peppermint tea after your meal is excellent to aid in digestion.
4. Watch Out for those Sweets
When energy levels are low, it's tempting to snack on those pesky sweets that seem so abundant over Christmas. Although this self-medicating energy boost can be lovely, moderation can save you from dampening your digestion, creating Ama, and gaining weight. Most shop-bought confectionary contains high sugar levels that can give you instant energy, but it only lasts for a while. Eventually, it diminishes your body's ability to metabolize food effectively into energy. The result is an energy crash. If you have a sweet tooth, try creating homemade cakes and sweets. Making your own allows you to use better ingredients, such as coconut sugar, a more complex carbohydrate that releases energy slowly and offers many valuable nutrients.
5. Exercise daily
A minimum of thirty minutes of daily exercise will keep off the extra pounds and improve your digestive fire and burn off Ama. Something as simple as a short walk after a meal is a great way to aid digestion and help the detox process. Yoga is also a great way to keep the body balanced, both mind and body, aiding digestion and removing Ama.
Wishing you many healthy, happy meals, Happy Holidays, and a Happy New Year.
For more information on Ayurveda, sign up for our Ayurveda 101 workshop with expert Tesia Love on Saturday, January 14, from 3 pm - 4:30 pm.