This is it! The fourth and final week of our Healthy Digestion Challenge. Of course, just because our challenge will be coming to an end doesn’t mean that all of the 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 the recommendations, while bringing a little focus and intention on which of these changes you plan to adopt as part of your daily life. Setting your goals now will undoubtably help you continue them as you go.
As we move forward this week, I have decided to eliminate all processed foods from our diet. This could be the hardest part of the 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, contains multiple preservatives and additives, and has a higher sodium count than needed. By making our own meals from scratch there are no hidden, unpronounceable, stale ingredients. We will know exactly what we are putting into our bodies 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 our challenge, you may be wondering where to go once this week is over. Well besides setting some longterm goals with your new diet and lifestyle habits, I have a surprise for everyone! We will be adding in a fifth week to our challenge. However, instead of eliminating more food types we will discuss how we can slowly add in some of these eliminated foods and mindfully strengthen and rebuild our systems (as we should always do after any type of cleansing process). So stay tuned next week with the juicy details!!
Healthy Digestion Challenge: WEEK 4
Ayurvedic Dietary Tip of the Week
Avoid all food after 6pm each night.
As our microcosmic bodies follow the rhythm of our macrocosmic world, our systems begin to slow down when the sunsets and evening comes. This means that not only are we more sedentary at this time, but our digestion and metabolism are a bit more sluggish as well. For these reasons it is vital for our digestive health that we honor this transition and eat our final meal at an early hour, ideally before 6pm.
On top of eating a bit earlier than you may be used to, it is also 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, breads, refined grains, and the like. Instead try to prepare lighter meals such as soup, dahls, kitchari, veggie stir-fry, fish, quinoa, and millet. Save the heavy foods and larger meal for the midday when our digestive fire is at its strongest.
*This also means that one should avoid snacking 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 when we are considering our digestion, allowing time to relax our minds and take in deep breaths will undoubtably help our systems to digest food better. When we are stressed out and our minds our occupied worrying about the days events, our bodies naturally will tense up and this includes out GI tract.
By allowing even 10 minutes each day to sit, take in some deep breaths and quiet our minds, we help to reduce our overall stress levels, especially when practiced consistently. Whether you wish to begin your day or end your evening (or both!) with this practice, this will help to calm the nervous system, release internal tensions and allow your digestive fire to flourish (among many other health benefits).
Herbal Regimen of the Week
Spice up your meals! Utilize a digestive spice blend in all or most meals.
A simple and delicious way to boost digestion is to simply add in 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, burning toxins and warding off signs of indigestion, such as gas and bloating.
For this week, try to add in 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 1/4-1/2 tsp 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
Alright, so it is not quite summer. However this light and colorful dish is still 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. Eaten with a rainbow of freshly sautéed veggies you will gladly enjoy the anti-aging, anti-cancerous, anti-inflammatory benefits this delicious dish offers. Click here for the full recipe.
Looking to jazz up your ordinary kale sauté? This tasty recipe offers a great alternative utilizing 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.
Energizing Sweet Potato and Chia Seed Smoothie
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.