I remember the day I got the lowdown on leftovers from one of my Ayurveda teachers. “They’re a no-no”, he said, if we want optimal digestion. And let’s face it, Ayurveda is all about digestion.
Truth be told, I already knew this. I just didn't want to believe it.
This still makes me a little sad. Reheated lasagna or pizza for lunch or dinner back in the day used to be a treat. No meal planning or cooking meant less time in the kitchen, which is always fine with me.
Unfortunately, once food has been cooked, cooled and then re-heated, the prana (life force) has left the food, and our bodies have to work much harder to digest it.
The same goes for frozen, canned, microwaved or packaged food. The fresher the food, the greater the prana and its healing properties.
I can’t say I miss my microwave - I ditched it years ago and never looked back. But when I moved last year I was greeted by a gigantic one in my new kitchen. What a waste of space! It just stares at me now, reminding me not to use it.
When our food is not properly digested, ama (undigested food particles/toxins) builds up and begins to clog the channels in the body, setting the stage for disease.
If you practice yoga then you might know about the 72,000 nadis or subtle energy channels that exist in the body. Ama even clogs these subtle channels, so you can easily see the potential for a lot of health problems to arise.
For most of us in this fast-paced culture that we live in, the thought of cooking each meal from scratch seems laughable and next to impossible. Especially if you're a city-dweller without a garden in your backyard.
But the truth is, it just takes a little more thought and effort – learning proper portion size to eliminate waste – and the rewards are great.
Most cities now have farmer's markets, so this shouldn't be an excuse.
Mother Nature is wise and provides us with just the right foods we need during each season.
Cooking for one can be really challenging. It’s not my favorite thing to do, but I've managed to figure it out (for the most part).
I visit my local farmer's market at least twice a week, trying not to overbuy (This is the challenging part for me - everything looks so good!), and I compost any leftovers. I've even made an arrangement with a friendly farmer at the market to take my compost.
Many communities now have composting programs. Believe me, once you start this practice, it will be hard to go back to throwing food scraps in the trash or garbage disposal.
People often remark to me that they eat their leftovers because they can’t stand to throw away food. Neither can I. We just need to learn how to make less.
Give this a try for a few weeks and see how you do (and more importantly, how you feel).
Even cutting in half the amount of frozen food, leftovers, or microwaved food you eat will have a significant effect on your health.
Believe me, I struggle to follow my own advice. Leftovers are so easy! But each day I get better and better at the process of cooking smaller amounts with fresh ingredients, and you can to! Your body will thank you.