Making Truly Tasty Meals

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by Morgan Webert

Does your food satisfy your tastebuds?

Accoding to Ayurveda, the traditional medicine system of India, the sense of taste is a natural guide map towards proper nutrition. Our tastebuds do more than just simply identify if something seems yummy or not; they open the body to receive the nutritive value of foods by providing the initial spark to the digestive process by stimulating salivation and enzyme secretion.

Ayurveda categorizes all foods into six tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent. The tastes, just like everything else in nature, are comprised of the five elements: ether, air, fire, water and earth. The wisdom of understanding food based on its taste comes from this elemental connection.

When we identify the taste of a food and know what elements create it, we then also know how it will effect us and we can tailor our eating to draw in the elements we need.

Ayurveda recommends two simple principles for achieving a balanced diet through the Six Tastes.

Include all 6 Tastes in each meal.

Each taste nourishes us in a different way. The brain speaks to the body when it requires nourishment in the form of food. When we incorporate all 6 Tastes into each meal, we’re making sure these signals are properly met, thus avoiding food cravings or the over consumption of certain foods.

One of the greatest nutritional issues in western society is subclinical malnutrition. This means someone may consume a large amount of food, but because the food lacks in nutritional quality their tissues are malnourished. This creates a vicious cycle of the brain signaling constant hunger because the body isn’t getting enough nutrients, stimulating cravings and overeating until the nutrients are provided.

By including all 6 Tastes we incorporate the various ways in which our body needs nutrients and thus it feels satiated.

Determine the proportion of tastes you eat based on your unique constitution.

We each have a unique constitutional make-up of the five elements. Some people are more fiery and hot, while others are more light and airy and other dense and solid.

The body often naturally desires tastes that balance it and reject tastes that aggravate it. If we observe our natural tendencies, and which elements we’re dominated by, we can choose tastes that balance our constitution rather than aggravate it.

The typical modern diet has an excess of sweet and salty tastes and lacks the balancing effects of the other four tastes. This is a primary cause for the epidemic of obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease in the West.

Which tastes do you mostly eat? Which tastes do you need to eat more of?

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Throw the Results out the Window with Karma Yoga

by Morgan Webert

Have you ever felt like someone gave you the perfect book or information just at the right time for what you’re experiencing?  Or, you finally decide to read or listen to something that’s been accumulating dust, and low and behold, it is exactly what you needed to hear?  Well, this week I felt just like that when I finally decided to listen to a reading of the Bhagavad Gita given to me by a friend a few weeks ago.

The Bhagavad Gita is one of the most famous stories out of the Hindu epic Mahabharata, in which krishna_arjuna_2Prince Arjun must lead a battle that divides his family and teachers.  As he steps up to the front lines of the battle field, he goes through an existential crisis wondering why he should fight at all, and calls on his chariot driver, who happens to be Lord Krishna, for guidance and advice.  The conversation that follows expounds upon the many forms of yoga and Krishna delves into the philosophies of each, beginning with Karma Yoga, and boy did I need to be reminded about Karma Yoga.

Karma Yoga is known as the yoga of selfless action.  Krishna tells Arjun to act with awareness but without attachment to outcome, without fear of success or failure and learn to act correctly in the present moment.  At the core of the teachings of Karma Yoga are acceptance and no expectation.  Acceptance allows us to get over our past and no expectations detaches us from the future.  This attitude frees us from feelings of guilt (the past) or worry (the future), and helps us to live in the present moment.

imagesBy living in this moment we connect to our true selves and the animating life-force running through us.  Krishna teaches Arjun that all work and action done with this state of mind shows us that we, or the ego self, is not the one doing the work.  Rather, we are simply vessels and the animating universal energy (prana, atman, paramatman, god etc) works through us.

I find this last idea very reassuring, and am reminded how supported we are by this universal energy, we need only make space for it to flow through us.  The idea of non attachment to results, however, really challenges me!  But as I worked this week to release expectations of outcomes, and revalue the moment for the moment, I noticed I gradually became more energized in my work, felt lighter, and santosha (contentment) began to permeate my days.

Now the challenge becomes remembering this lesson!