This is it! The fourth and final week of your Healthy Digestion Challenge. Of course, just because your challenge will be coming to an end, doesn’t mean that all of your newfound healthy eating and lifestyle habits have to end as well. With this last week in effect, it is a great time to keep going strong with all of your recommendations, while bringing a little focus and intention on which of these changes you would like to adopt as part of your new daily routine. Setting your goals now will undoubtedly help you continue them after the challenge is over.
As you move forward this week, I have decided to eliminate all processed foods from your diet. This may be the hardest part of your challenge yet for many individuals. This will include ANY food type that is not made from scratch, from a whole food source.
What makes processed foods so unhealthy? Most of them have been sitting on a shelf for a long time, contain multiple preservatives and additives, and are unnecessarily high in sodium. By making your own meals from scratch there are no hidden, unpronounceable, or stale ingredients. You will know exactly what you are putting into your body, with no surprises. Even if you must make a large pot of food to eat off of throughout the week, this is a much healthier option than eating out (which we gave up last week) or eating meals with processed foods.
Since this is the final week of your challenge, you may be wondering where to go once this week is over. Well besides setting some long-term goals with your new diet and lifestyle habits, I have a surprise for everyone! I have added a fifth week to your challenge. However, instead of eliminating more food types, this final culmination will show you how to slowly add in some of these previously eliminated foods mindfully (as we should always do after any type of cleansing process), as you begin to rebuild your system.
Healthy Digestion Challenge: WEEK 4
Ayurvedic Dietary Tip of the Week
Avoid all food after 6 pm each night.
As your microcosmic body follows the rhythm of your macrocosmic world, your system naturally will begin to slow down when the sun sets and evening comes. This means that not only are you generally more sedentary at this time but your digestion and metabolism will be a bit more slow and sluggish as well. For these reasons, it is vital for your digestive health that you honor this transition and eat your final meal before 6 pm.
On top of eating a bit earlier than you may be used to, it is important to eat a smaller meal for dinner with lighter food choices. Heavy, hard-to-digest foods should be avoided at this time including meat, dairy, sweets, pasta, bread, refined grains, and the like. Instead, try to prepare lighter meals such as soup, dals, kitchari, veggie stir-fry, fish, quinoa, and millet. Save the heavy foods and larger meals for the midday when your digestive fire is at its strongest.
*This recommendation includes avoiding snacks post-dinner as well. If you are used to a late-night snack, try to replace this with some herbal tea with honey, broth, or if necessary a small piece of fruit (remember to wait 2 hours after other food intake when eating fruit!).
Daily Routine Practice of the Week
Practice 10 minutes of meditation or deep breathing each day (or night).
Although this seems like an unrelated practice in regards to healthy digestion, allowing time to relax your mind and take in some deep breaths will undoubtedly help your system to digest food better. When you are stressed out and your mind is distracted, worrying about past and future events, your entire body will naturally tense up – and this includes your GI tract!
By allowing even 10 minutes each day to sit, take in some deep breaths, and quiet your mind, you will reduce your overall stress level, especially if you are able to make this a part of your daily routine. Whether you begin your day or end your evening (or both!) with your mediation, this will calm your nervous system, release internal tensions, and allow your digestive fire (Agni) to flourish (among many other health benefits).
Herbal Regimen of the Week
Spice up your meals! Utilize a digestive spice blend in your meals.
A simple and delicious way to boost digestion is to simply add some digestive spices to each meal. Luckily, Ayurveda offers a wide variety of options when it comes to digestion-boosting spices. These culinary spices are a great way to add some variety to your meals, while also possessing many hidden healing properties.
Warming spices such as cumin, turmeric, ginger, fennel, fenugreek, coriander, cardamom, clove, cinnamon, pippali, and black pepper are great for sparking the digestive fire (Agni), burning toxins, and warding off signs of indigestion, such as gas and bloating.
For this week, try to add some of these mentioned spices to each and every meal. Since you are already making all of your meals from scratch at this point, it shouldn’t be too hard. If your meal just doesn’t go well with any of the mentioned spices, try to take ¼ to ½ teaspoon of a digestive spice blend such as Trikatu Churna or Agni Churna with some honey before the meal.
Recommended Digestive Spice Blends:
Week Four Recap
Recipe Suggestions of the Week
This light and colorful dish is a great option during this challenge and beyond. As you may have discovered, quinoa is a very versatile grain (although it is technically a seed) and can be used in a wide variety of recipes. Filled with protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber, it tends to be a healthier (and lighter) option than your everyday rice. When eaten with a rainbow of freshly sautéed veggies, you will gladly enjoy the anti-aging, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory benefits this delicious dish offers. Click here for the full recipe.
Looking to jazz up your ordinary kale sauté? This tasty recipe includes some creamy tahini to give it a little more bulk, flavor, and nutrients, along with the healing power of turmeric to give it a beautiful golden color. This is recipe is a wonderful side dish option, although thanks to the protein-rich tahini, it can be a light and healthy dinnertime meal all in itself. Click here for the full recipe.
If you are missing your cold, raw smoothies during this challenge, you may want to try this healthy alternative. This unique smoothie recipe uses steamed sweet potatoes, along with some tasty additions such as coconut water, dates, chia seeds, cinnamon, ginger, and cacao nibs. Together this nutrient-rich smoothie offers an energizing way to start your day, while still being warm, well-spiced, and easy to digest. Click here for the full recipe.