In digestion, we have a sensory experience of sound, touch, sight, taste and smell. Each of these perceptions allow us to determine if the food we are eating is both safe and pleasant. We may hear the sound of steam or the light popping of a warm garnish on a soup. We will touch the bowl, the silverware and napkin further engaging us in the action of eating. We see and note the color and texture of the food and how it appears in the serving dish. We will smell the food, perhaps bringing our nose slightly closer to discern individual scents that are competing for attention. Our brains will intercept all of this before we reach the final sense of taste. Here we will place the food on our tongue determing if it is sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent or astrigent? Most of the time we will be able to make out just a few of the six tastes, but if we are lucky, all six tastes will be present and help to balance our digestion well before the food reaches our stomachs. Ideally, the majority of our food choices will pleasant, but not overly sweet. Foods such as cooked grains, ripe fruit and sweet vegetables matched with spices, a pinch of salt and accompanying condiments will allow most, if not all, of the tastes to come through. This type of food is flavorful but mild, without one predominant taste (hot chili peppers as an example). It is not extreme and therefore gentle and allows for your Agni (digestive fire) to work so as not to burn too hot (acidity digestion challenges) and not too cool (lack of full digestion causing gas & bloating).
How we eat and later digest greatly affects our sense of mental peace. Anyone who has eaten "on the road" or hastily scarfed down a lunch, may notice that the remainder of the day feels irritated or rushed. Particularly if we ate a heavy, salty or an overly sweet meal choice, we may feel dull in our mind and/or energy. This is due in part to the pancreas working overtime to keep our blood sugar levels up after they come crashing down from the overload spike of quick sugars. What happens next? Usually, a sense of fatigue, moodiness or other emotional imbalances. We may have felt this way already, but our food choice affected our chemistry to the point of disrupting the balance of the brain.
We crave sweet for that loving feeling, especially if we feel lonely or needing emotional support, but an overabundance of that taste does the opposite. One of the focuses in Ayurvedic Wellness is to be in a Sattvic state. Sattva (to be sattvic) means to be in a state of being which keeps the mind & body happy and at peace. Sattva is the quality of intelligence, harmony, goodness and stability. Being in a state of peaceful contentment has a cascade of positive side effects for our body and mind, including calming the fight or flight response of the nervous system. This in turn supports improved digestion. This cycle of bringing sattvic qualities to your food and routines will bring such qualities to your mind. It is a beautiful cycle once understood and made an intention for your daily life.
Mashed Potato Peaceout:
2 large or 3 medium potatoes (scrubbed clean/no green on outside/fresh)
Pinch or two of sea salt
1/2 tablespoon ghee
1/4 to 1/2 cup milk (more milk, silkier mash)
1/2 tsp dry ginger
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tablespoon basil
Rinse potatoes and scrub any residual dirt. Set a medium pot to boil with 4 cups water or vegetable broth (enough to cover tops of potato). Place potatoes into boiling water and continue to boil on medium/high heat until potatoes are soft when you place a fork through the potato.
Drain potatoes and place in bowl. Add ghee, milk and then mash or use a mixer until potatoes are at desired consistency. (lumpy or more fluffy)
Add spices and pinch of salt. Place in pretty bowl, add garnish of cilantro or parsley. Enjoy in quiet or with pleasant company.