How To Cook Healthy Food - As Per Ayurveda
Broccoli is healthy but what if it is coated with a cheese sauce? and what if we fry it? It is clear that how we cook food and consume it matters a lot. As life has gotten busier with increasing workloads and stress, the art of healthy cooking is also getting lost somewhere under the shade of ready-to-eat meals and fast food takeaways. The trend of dual-income is rising and both partners often lack the energy and time to prepare any meal at home which makes takeaways an easy option for these people with this rising trend a new trend has followed which is the trend of diseases as these food items are rich in fats and contain 65% more calories than a normal home-cooked meal which leads to degradation of health and lots of health issues. In this article, we will have a look at how to cook healthy foods, what impact cooking has physically, mentally, and emotionally on the cook and the consumer, and why a homemade meal tastes different than the one consumed at a restaurant.
What Is Healthy Cooking?
- Cooking at home - Not only cooking at home is healthy but it also saves a lot of money.
- Avoiding cooking at high temperatures - Cooking food at high temperatures can lead to the formation of toxins like heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.
- Careful measurement of ingredients - Ingredients shall be used in adequate amounts to avoid overuse and excessive calorie intake.
- Avoiding frying foods - This leads to the collection of carcinogens in the food which leads to cancer.
- Low-fat cooking methods - Boiling or steaming prevents the formation of chemicals and toxins in the foods.
- Avoiding sweeteners and sugars in foods -This leads to weight gain and an increased number of calories.
- Processed meat for flavouring shall be avoided - It leads to an increased risk of cancer when taken in even small amounts.
- Reducing the consumption of animal fats - As animal fats are rich in saturated fats, it is better to avoid taking any kind of animal fat for cooking as it leads to an increased risk of diseases.
- Switching to whole grains instead of refined grains - Whole grains are rich in fibre and lead to decreased risk of colorectal carcinomas. It also keeps the stomach full for longer which leads to less frequent consumption of meals.
- Lesser salt intake - Salt is better taken in lesser quantities as it leads to hypertension and stomach diseases.
- Addition of fruits and vegetables to diet: - fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants which keep the body healthy.
- Canola oil or olive oil for cooking - Addition of canola or olive oil to cook food has a very good impact on bad cholesterol as it clears out bad fats from the body and is rich in omega - 3 it keeps the heart and overall body healthy.
Why Home Cooked Meals Better?
No one is unaware of the fact that home-cooked meals are better than take-out and fast foods and there are multiple facts as evidence to support this statement. These are as follows:-
- Home-cooked meals retain their nutritional value as they are not indulged with unnecessary spices, butter, and oils.
- Home-cooked meals are free from preservatives and additives that are harmful to health.
- While dieting, calories can only be controlled if the meals are made perfectly with the perfect amount of ingredients.
- Home-cooked meals are economical as the ingredients can be brought in bulk and can be stored and used for a long time.
- A great scope of experimentation with flavours is there in home cooking.
- Proper portion sizing can also be observed with home-cooked meals which leads to lesser wastage of food.
- Cooking at home is time-saving and can be of much use when one is in a hurry.
- With home-cooked meals, it is easier to stay away from food items that cause allergies.
- In home-cooked meals, there is the surety that the ingredients are fresh and the food is not stale.
- Home-cooked meals provide a sense of emotional satisfaction which no other meal can provide.
- Home-cooked meals also bring us close to our friends and family as home-cooked meals are prepared with love and affection.
Impact Of Food On Mental Health
Food is having the power to affect someone's mind, heart, and overall self. It is believed that food can affect mood more than other things. The gastrointestinal system is considered a second brain as it contains several bacteria that release substances known as serotonin and dopamine that carry messages from the gastrointestinal tract to the brain. Consumption of healthy food leads to good bacteria growth which helps in the release of positive chemicals that reflect mental state and consumption of unhealthy food leads to bad bacterial growth which leads to a disturbed gastrointestinal system and a bad mental state as well. A great example of this can be considered - the consumption of sugar that leads to the release of dopamine which for once temporarily makes the person feel good and later makes them feel depressed. With healthier diet routines, mood swings get diminished and there is improvement in cognition and behaviour. With food, "there is no one size fitting everyone" and everyone can have a different effect of a particular food item on their minds. What brings out positivity for one is not sure to be bringing out the same for another as well.
Ayurveda And Cooking
In the Ayurvedic system of medicine, not only a proper prescription is focused but diet and the way of cooking are also important. Consumption of a type of food, time of consumption, and way of consumption affect overall health directly and in the state of disease, this effect doubles. The following rules are to be followed in Ayurvedic cooking:-
- The food items to be consumed should be easy to digest and easy to cook,
- The use of herbs, spices, and oils shall be limited as in excess they can have a vitiating effect on doshas.
- The combinations made shall be appropriate and only suitable ingredients shall be combined.
- Choice of ingredients shall be based upon the Prakriti of an individual as well as the season ongoing. For example: - Vata predominance during the months between October and February, Pitta predominance between July and October, and Kapha predominance between March and June.
- The activity of the digestive system is at its peak during the hours between 2 am and 6 am and therefore, it is vital to consume a light breakfast after this period. Between 2 pm to 6 pm, the consumption of heavy/main meals can be done and between 6 pm to 10 pm, heavy diet shall be avoided strictly.
- During Kapha months i.e. March to June fasting can be done as appetite is diminished, during Pitta months i.e. from July to October cold and moist foods shall be consumed, and during Vata months i.e. from November to February high-fat dishes can be consumed.
The Concept Of Agni
Whatever we consume has the power to impact the agni (digestive fire) in the digestive system. Fire is important for the human body to perform various bodily functions efficiently. Agni is of various types:-
- Jataragni - This means fire in the belly, the one which impacts our digestion metabolism. This fire influences how the food will be absorbed and used by the body. Any high or low in this fire will lead to disturbed metabolism and digestion which in turn leads to multiple health issues. If this jataragni gets disturbed all the other agnis will also go out of balance and start creating issues within the body like attacking the immune system and disturbing the immunity which leads to the collection of toxins that is ama and forms autoimmune conditions in the longer run.
- Bhutagni - This agni is responsible for the digestion of small components of foods and provides nourishment to the cells but if this agni gets vitiated then the nourishment gets disturbed and the cellular functioning also hampers which can lead to further blockage of microchannels and collection of toxins or ama in the body which ultimately has made its way to diseases.
- Dhatagni - This agni is found inside the tissues and has the function to receive nutrients and use them for cell nourishment and cell formation. If the jataragni gets disturbed, this agni will also get disturbed and cell growth will get out of control or there will start cellular damage which causes multiple health issues.
The way of cooking and the choice of ingredients as evident from the above information regarding the agni is clear to be impacting the agni and further formation of diseases.
In this era of fast food and takeaways it is very important to adopt a healthy lifestyle and to stay healthy it is necessary to cook healthily and eat healthily. It is necessary to select healthy ingredients over unhealthy ones as consuming healthy impacts both the mental and physical health of an individual and helps in keeping the body disease free. Cooking at home is not only healthy but also easy on the pockets. Switching to healthier ingredients can help a lot in staying healthy in the long run. Ayurveda provides various guidelines regarding the time and way of consumption of food and its preparation as well.
"Choose Ayurveda and Live Happily"