Friday, August 5, 2011

Kindle Life – Food Management – Episode:5

Why Food Management?

Ever since we have born, the body is with us and hence we find extremely difficult to identify this entity, taking it for granted and often neglect it. There is a famous saying “The Fish finds the water the last”. The fish is born in water, lives in water and dies in water. This means that only when the fish is out of water, it realizes how important water for its existence. Extending this wisdom, I wish to quote “Human beings find health last when it is Lost!”

We are healthy by default which means that in a life span of 70 years, we are healthy almost 99.99% of the time leaving certain exceptions. The data shows that the nature’s plan is to keep us healthy unless we chose to be un-healthy. My presumption is reinforced by looking at all the species except human being who are healthy all the time. If that is the nature’s plan then why we see so many diseases in the modern world? All those killer diseases like stroke, heart attack, diabetics etc not seen a century ago. As the so called civilization progresses, we see more and more health issues while the animal kingdom is free from all those we experience as they are not yet “Civilized”.

Once Rajneesh said “We recognize our head only when we get headache” and all other circumstances we don’t even recognize that we have something called “Head”. Similarly we recognize our body only when it starts giving trouble. It is not prudent to recognize something when it is lost! There is a proverb in Tamil which says “You need the wall to draw a picture” which is said in the context of the human body which is needed to achieve anything in life, whether material or spiritual.

I wish to refer an incidence reported in the life of Lord Buddha:
Lord Buddha left his princely abode at the age of twenty nine in search of an answer for his quest; why human beings suffer? He went in search of several masters one after the other hoping someone will show him the way. At last someone suggested to him to go without food for several days as the body denied of food will transcend the mind and hence he can get enlightened. After staying away from food for nearly 80 days Lord Buddha became nearly a skeleton and could not even walk across a shallow river. The thought came to his mind that when he cannot even cross this shallow river, how he is going to cross the Samsara Samudra (Ocean of life). That is the moment Lord recognized that this body is needed to support a healthy mind to attain spiritual abode.

There is a famous saying that “We destroy our health to amaze wealth and spend them all over again to recover the health”; whether material or spiritual pursuit we need the temple-the body where the divine soul resides.
The Body – the miracle!
The nature created this whole universe as a “spontaneous organization” which means that it is a self-sustaining mechanism like a rain forest. No one manages a rain forest since it manages itself; the food chain ensures that all animals are under control including the Lion which is the highest rung of the food chain. The unbounded universe with millions of galaxies, creation and destruction of stars are all happening without anyone orchestrating it. In this self-sustaining wonderful universe, human body is also a wonder with millions of sub-systems working in a complex manner without we are not even knowing about it.

For example, are we breathing? No – It is happening! Are we digesting? No – It is happening! Are we beating our heart? No- It is happening! If you go deep into all functions of the body, all are “happening” and none is “doing”. If you see deep into all “happenings”, it is all miracles as we don’t know how? It appears that if these systems are left to the nature they will function in harmony as per the creator’s plan. If that is true why do we see so many diseases in the mankind these days?

What is Disease? – A new Insight:
If you examine the word “disease”, it has two parts “Dis & ease”; which means not in ease with something - It means “non-alignment” with the nature. Disease is the outcome of non-alignment with the nature. The non-alignment could be in the basic instinct of the species – hunger, procreation, relaxation and self-preservation. I wish to cover few tips about this precious gadget called body under this topic of “Food management?”

Tips-1: Food for survival & not indulgence:  
In the ancient days people ate food for survival only but in the modern world, food is in the top of the list of indulgence. In the early Roman Empire, the aristocratic people used to eat full stomach and stimulate vomiting using peacock feather in their throat and get back once again to fill their stomach! This is the pinnacle of human greed for indulgence and food is used to abuse human body. Let us examine how this “dis - ease” leads to disease. In the modern world we don’t eat for survival, but for fulfilling our mind and not body. Obesity is one of the modern killers, the result of over eating. Often, we overeat due to stress and there is no dearth of stress in life and most of them are created by ourselves. It is important to recognize that abusing our body in the name of over eating is foolishness. Let not food become the means for filling our empty feeling of the mind.

Tips-2: Eat only conducive Foods:  
The ancient Pathanchali sastra says that the food we eat either enhances or suppresses our pranik energy – the life energy in our constitution. If you develop an ability to listen to your stomach, it will tell you the moment you eat a samosa or potato wada which are killers of our pranik energy. The stomach will tell you “Oh Gosh why have you sent this down?” On the other hand, if you eat a fruit or salad and listen to your stomach, it will tell you its pleasant experience! The simple measure – what is tasty to your tongue is bad for your pranik energy and vice versa.  

Tips-3: Vegetarian vs non-vegetarian Food:
I am not covering this topic on religious angle but only on scientific angle. The nature created food for different species which are generally not interchangeable; tiger cannot eat grass and what a crow can eat will be poison for other species. In essence, the nature had created conducive food for all living species in a very well balanced way. One simple fact is all creations except human beings eat the food assigned for them irrespective of taste; the snake eats the rodents, the cow eats the grass and so on. The famous adage “One’s food is another’s poison”  fits well with the plan of the nature.

The creations are classified as carnivores and herbivores based on their food either meat or vegetables and very few are Omnivores which eat both. The carnivores which eat meat are found to have canine teeth, intestine less than 16 feet and stomach acids which are capable of melting raw meat. The herbivores which are grass eaters found to have long intestines more than 40 feet and stomach acids which are not capable of melting meat. Human beings belong to herbivores by design and we have found many ways to make the tasteless meat as palatable. When we eat meat it rots in the longer intestine causing health issues.

“I was eating non-vegetarian food for many years from childhood till late thirties and switched over to vegetarian food. I am able to see the difference in my texture of thoughts and actions with both types of food habits. In addition to quality of thoughts, I am able to see a vast difference in my health while I switched over to vegetarian food. Few years back I suddenly started eating non-vegetarian food to quench my professional stress. My whole constitution started rebelling, forcing me back to vegetarian food once again. I recognized the fact that food cannot quench my stress – only the mind can!”

Tips-4: Right quantity at right time:
The corporate lifestyle has totally screwed up our healthy eating habits namely to ignore the breakfast & lunch and “eat like a pig at night”. How petrol for a motor car, food is for our body. I like the suggestions by Rijuta Diwekar in her popular book “Don’t lose the mind – lose your weight”. I have been following her tips since last 2 years; here are her tips for healthy eating:
·         Meal-1: Immediately after brushing teeth – one plantain fruit and a cup of milk.
·         Meal-2: simple breakfast – no tea or coffee
·         Meal-3: 11.30 – a fruit or dry fruits or chenna
·         Meal-4: 1.00pm – simple vegetarian lunch
·         Meal-5: 4.00pm – same as 11.30 snacks
·         Meal-6: 8.00pm (2 hours before sleep) – simple vegetarian meal
The underlying principle in the above formula, never make your body to feel deep hunger which is one of the causes of over eating.

Tips-5: Learn to listen to your Hunger:
My pet Maximus (we affectionately call him Max) refuses to eat a gram more than what his constitution needs. Animals have the ability to sense when their hunger ends and stop eating immediately. This faculty of sensing our hunger is lost by human beings and many time our mind eats and not stomach. When Max has stomach trouble it refuses to eat till it is back to normal and feels the hunger. In Sanskrit there is a famous saying “Langanam Parama Oushadam”. This means “fasting is the best medicine for stomach upset”. There is a merit in observing the animals in eating habits as they have no “Dis – Ease” with the nature and hence have least disease.

Tips-6: Follow Pathanchali Sastra:
Benjamin Franklin followed eleven principles in his life and tallied a checklist everyday to remind him to follow them till it becomes his second nature. One of them is “Eat not to fullness and drink not to elevation”. This was told by Pathanchali Muni (Muni is the name given to seers) 5000 years ago. He said that you must half fill your stomach with food, quarter with water leaving the balance with air. This space is needed for when the stomach squeezes the food for digestion so that it does not hit your throat!

In summary,

1.    Food is the fuel for our survival only and not a means to indulge and alleviate our stress – It is not a stress buster.
2.    Figure out the food which enhances your pranik energy – rest of them are junk food.
3.    You are designed as a herbivore – Vegetarian food is your nature’s plan
4.    Eat small meals more frequently and keep your stomach empty while you sleep
5.    Learn to listen to your hunger and don’t eat a gram more than fulfilling your hunger.
6.    Eat not to fullness and drink not to elevation. 
            God Bless you with a long healthy life

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