I talk a lot about Indian food sensibilities, but what exactly does it mean? In India most household still follow their ancient food habits. Indian cooking is one of the most evolved cooking, we still eat the way our ancestors ate, cook the way our grandmothers and their grandmothers cooked. Eat according to season, region, flavour and produce. Mostly know how much to eat, when to eat, what to eat and what not to eat. These ancient food wisdom have been followed for thousands of years after thorough understanding of the pranic value of a food.
Pranic value or prana of food is the energy factor that food provides. In Indian food sensibility food is measured against prana. Does this food provide you with energy? Do you feel satisfied after eating this food? Does it make you feel light and not bloated or lethargic? Do you feel like over eating? Prana the life force of body is a good measure to know how food works in our body. If one eats in accordance with 5 senses your body will have good prana. Taste being one of the main senses that we use for eating is a good one to follow. When we eat something and it tastes good we wanna eat more of it but there comes a point when the same food will not taste any better and doesn't fulfil you and that's when our stomach tells our brain to stop eating. If we listen to this communication we'll never overeat and in fact we'll have the memory about how it felt to eat say more than 2 mouthful of a particular food. And so following this subtle message from tongue to stomach to brain helps in circulating our prana in good form.
Another important aspect of Indian food sensibilities is cooking. Cooking is something that I feel every one should know so we can feed ourselves and people we love healthy, nourishing meals. When we cook from scratch we not only know what exactly goes into that food but we can also control how much of what to put in it. One of the reason why so many people have such warped idea about food especially sugar, dairy, fried foods etc is because they either have spent most part of their lives eating out of jars which usually is loaded with sugar and salt, or they rely heavily on eating takeouts or in restaurants, which we all know is also usually full of copious amounts of oil and intense flavours. When you eat wrong for most part of your life, your coping mechanism is to eliminate everything that you think is bad or eat 'super-herbs' and drink smoothies & hope somehow that'll fix your problems. Elimination of carbs, sugar, salt, fried foods doesn't work in the long run because they are all essential in human function but what works is Moderation. When you learn how to cook you can use the knowledge of moderation in your cooking. You'll add sugar when its needed in dessert, you'll add salt to enhance flavour, you'll make fried food when your body is craving it and you'll use fresh oil to make it, you'll eat carbs in winter because your body will need it etc. So cooking is a powerful tool in keeping us healthy for long term.
Here are few quick pointers on what good food sensibilities are -
1. Eat freshly prepared meals. Avoid eating old, stale cooked food that's been sitting in the fridge for more than 2 days.
2. Eat locally produce food as much as possible. For e.g. don't eat frozen berries that were picked in some other country and refrigerated and imported and then sits in your freezer for months rather buy berries in season and freeze them yourself or best eat them only when they are in season.
3. Eat seasonal food, one of the best thing we can do for our body is give it food that grows in season, because traditionally that's what body craves.
4. Stop taking shortcuts like buying ready made pastes or sauces. Create a balance, if you buy pasta from shops maybe make its sauce from scratch.
5. Sit down and eat, don't have too many distractions. Use your senses while eating so you know when you are full and when you need to stop eating.
6. Eat with gratitude, for the food and the person who has cooked it. When we cultivate loving relation with food we don't see it as our enemy but as our friend that benefits our mind and body.
7. Stop following food fads, rather use old food sensibility. Cutting carbs and eating no sugar is not the answer to great health but eating healthy carbs and enjoying dessert in moderation is.
8. Stay away from packaged, heavily processed food as much as possible. Eat food in their natural form.
9. Avoid too many raw food, salad has its place but eating too many raw veggies or food doesn’t guarantee great health. No ancient culture advocates excessive amount of raw food as a substitute to cooked food for healthier food habits.
Indian food sensibility is not about knowing Ayurvedic terms and eating medicinal herbs, but making food your medicine. Eating with all your senses, eating with love, passion, care. Eating and feeding with understanding of why our ancestors ate the way they ate. Eating mostly organic, colourful food. Eating not from the point of elimination but from moderation. Not complicating your eating but simplifying it by choosing fresh, unprocessed, real food.