A lot of Ayurvedic nutrition is about getting the perfect poo.
If you walk down the aisles of any drugstore in this country, you will see a testament to our collective indigestion. From antacids to stool softeners, we take for granted how unnatural it is to need a pill to help our body release its toxic waste. Here again, we can call in the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda, which believes in the reflection of the macrocosm in every microcosm, even our individual poos. As the Earth herself shows us her ever-increasing inability to digest the toxic overload of the landfills and chemical pollutants we throw onto her body, why are we surprised when we suffer from very similar imbalances, such as constipation, increased intolerance, and sensitivities to foods? Whatever happens to Mama Earth is gonna happen to her children.
Modern research supports ancient Ayurveda’s understanding of the importance of daily bowel health. Truly, physical health or imbalance can be traced back to the quality of our elimination. It’s hard to feel happy (much less reach enlightenment) when we aren’t having what I call “poophoria,” or the contentment that comes from having a wonderful poo on a regular basis. You may currently feel so disconnected from your poo that you don’t know that poophoria feels like. How often should it happen? What should it look like? When I ask women, “So, how is your elimination?” some immediately giggle nervously and answer, “Oh, it’s normal.” But what is normal? “Normal” for some of us means having a BM once every three days! Or one day having tough, dry stools and the next day diarrhea. This is not poophoria.
In the perfect world of delectable poos, we would be going to the bathroom once a day. If we have a more pitta constitution, we may go twice a day. Normally, this should occur in the morning, without the need for a laxative. Normal poos do not require a cup of coffee to get things moving. After your morning motions, you should feel light, energetic and that the evacuation has been complete. You shouldn’t feel strain nor hurried through your elimination rituals. There should be no burning, gas, smells other than a food-like odor, and most definitely no pain. In essence, your morning poo should be something you look forward to, because it feels good.
The ideal poo should also be solid but soft, well built and minimally smelly. Your poos should look similar every morning, regardless of what you ate the night before. If sinkage occurs, it only happens over time, not immediately. The perfect poo is easy to wipe, does not stick to the toilet, and is brown color, like a tanned banana that smiles up at you.
Simple tips for the perfect poo:
- Check in with your poos. Avoid the foods that you see showing up undigested.
- Follow the doshic and seasonal guidelines, as well as the general rules for food combining.
- Spice up your meals. Doshic-appropriate spices are our poos best friends.
- Stop the graze-fest. In general, snacking on foods before the last snack has been digested leads to sinking, toxic poos.
- Eat freshly prepared foods. Leftovers lead to less-than-perfect poo.
- Eat fiber-rich foods to improve stool quality.
- Say “yum,” and mean it. When we love what we are eating, when it smells and looks good, our bodies are listening and we digest better. Eat while sad or angry, and you can see the emotion in the “motion.”
- Watch what you do while not eating. It blew my mind to find out that energy-wasting habits, seemingly unrelated to mealtimes, also dampen the metabolic fire. Gossiping, watching the news or gossip-loving TV talk shows, engaging in arguments, talking for the sake of filling the silence, or obsessively checking email are all examples of agni killers.
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