Guidelines For A Balanced Diet
As every person is unique, there will always be variations according to individual needs. A few basic guidelines, however, are appropriate as we seek a way of eating that creates balance and harmony. Frame of mind is of utmost importance at mealtime; relax and slowly chew your food for optimal digestion and assimilation. The dinner table is not the place to discuss the day’s problems. Chewing is a major part of digestion. Remember, your stomach does not have teeth. Digestion, particularly of the starches, begins in the mouth. Foods that are difficult to thoroughly masticate, such as sesame seeds, should be ground before eating. Fruits digest quickly while meats and other proteins will take more time to digest.
The best ways of preparing foods are steaming, stir frying in water, stewing (boiling, as in soups), or baking. Even the best quality oils become hard to digest when heated. So, if oil is desired, put it on after the food is cooked. Foods should be eaten in their wholeness, when possible. Only peel fruits or vegetables if the peel is hard to digest or contaminated with chemical sprays. Search out organically grown foods to avoid the toxic chemical residues of commercial growing processes. If non-organic foods are used, be sure to wash them in saltwater to neutralize the poisons. Also avoid irradiated foods and microwave ovens, if possible. The best utensils for cooking in are glass, earthenware, or stainless steel. One should avoid cooking in aluminum or copper; these metals can easily leach into the food. One’s diet should follow the seasons, eating what grows locally. Nature has the perfect plan in providing the appropriate foods for the given season. The fruits and vegetables that ripen in the summertime tend to be on the cooling side, because their growth period occurs during the cooler months. In wintertime we will tend towards a more warming diet.
Also, one should eat a wide variety of foods for good balance.
Most vegetables should be at least lightly cooked, as raw vegetables tend to be difficult to digest. Foods should never be eaten cold because cold foods put out the digestive fire, so to say. This is particularly upsetting to the female menstrual cycle as the stomach sits right beside the liver, which is responsible for making Blood. Cooling off the stomach can lead to a stagnant Blood condition and a difficult menstrual period. Frozen foods, such as ice cream, are unhealthy, as well as iced drinks. Neither should we consume foods that are so hot that they burn the mouth or stomach.
It is best to stop eating before the “full” point. Also, eating just before retiring is not a healthy idea. One should take the last meal at least 3 hours before going to bed. This will not only result in better digestion, but also a more restful sleep. Late eating also tends to easily be stored as unwanted pounds. One should wake up with a good appetite for breakfast. This is the meal that provides us with the fuel or energy for much of the day, so make this a very nutritious meal.
Nuts and seeds contain a large proportion of oil and should be eaten as fresh as possible and kept refrigerated. Since many people do not chew nuts well, grinding them into a powder makes them more easily digested. Beans should be soaked prior to cooking for at least a few hours; always discard the soak water and cook them in fresh water. The small beans like lentils or peas are easier to digest than large beans like kidneys. For a person with particularly weak digestion it is best to cook grains “soupy”, with additional water and cooking time. You may use up to 10 parts water for 1-part grain. Always avoid highly processed foods and keep meals as simple as possible.
I leave you with this quote from one of the highly achieve ones:
“The sages of ancient times emphasized not the treatment of disease, but rather the prevention of its occurrence. To administer medicine to disease which has already developed and to suppress revolts which have already begun is comparable to the behavior of one who begins to dig a well after he has become thirsty or one who begins to forge weapons after he has engaged in battle. Would these actions not be too late?”