Something interesting has been happening at home for the last few days.
It started off with my sister (who was down with a fever) developing loose motion with a lot of gas, which we attributed to food poisoning. It is Diwali season, after all!
For Deepavali, my mother and my other sister Janani planning a feast for lunch, with dishes ranging from steamed chepankizhangu (colocasia tubers) to baked potatoes to golden baby corn to stuffed chillies to stuffed tomatoes, apart from a range of sambar-rasam-kootu-chutney varieties. We even had a steamed vada, flavoured with dill! All of us enjoyed the Deepavali feast more than we ever had before.
Look what happened after the feast:
The next morning, however, my grandmother complained of severe chest pain and difficulty in breathing. We were a little worried, but in the end it turned out to be a substantial amount of gas formation.
Once I got to the clinic and started the routine consultations, I noticed feeling really sleepy and finding it difficult to focus on what the patients were telling me. This was unusual, because I had slept well the previous night. In the evening, we had our regular group meditation session at the office, I was unable to concentrate and kept falling asleep.
This morning, my parents complained of gas too. It was too much of a coincidence. I sent a message to all my friends asking if they were experiencing the same thing too, and most of them replied saying “Yes, we haven’t been able to eat much, but we’re hogging food nevertheless and walking around gassing the place”. Not my words. Theirs.
Why is this happening?
Diwali is a time of feasting, unlike most other Indian festivals. You would have heard of the Narathri fast, Ramanavami fast, Gokulashtami fast, Vaikunta Ekadashi fast, Lent fast, Ramadan fast… Have you ever heard of the Diwali fast? My mentor, Dr. Shakthi Vijayan, says that feasting during Diwali was probably meant to be a preparation for the coming winter months.
You see, digestion isn’t easy. This is something most of us don’t think about on a daily basis – we plan extensively for our meals, gobble food up in a few minutes but never think about what happens to it once we swallow it. Our stomach, intestines and digestive organs have a LOT of work to do, to digest the food we eat correctly and completely.
Did you know there is a medical term for it?!
How do you feel after a heavy meal? Dull and sleepy? Or fresh and alert? The sleepiness even has a name in medical jargon – postprandial somnolence. The body requires a lot of energy to digest food, and when you’ve more than what your hunger demands, it draws energy away from other functions to concentrate on cooking.
A few days back, weather suddenly changed here in Bangalore. A straw mat and bed spread are no longer enough to sleep comfortably. We have been waking up shivering at night and putting on three more layers of bed sheets to cover ourselves, and shivering inside. Our sweaters have all come out of the cupboards, with all the paraphernalia of socks, gloves and caps being sported – a winter parade!
Just read this part if you are in a hurry:
In cold weather, a lot of the body’s energy goes towards keeping the metabolism up. Your appetite reduces. You’ll find yourself unable to eat as much as you did in the summer months. If you eat more than what your hunger demands, you’ll feel sleepy because your body is forced to put your digestive system into overdrive, compromising other functions. You’ll also end up with gas formation because your stomach and intestines are overloaded. You’ll also tend to feel hungry sooner after a meal, but unable to eat much. This is false hunger, not true hunger.
This is usually a slow, gradual process and take a few weeks as the weather gradually shifts into winter, but because of the sudden cold weather this time, we’re able to sense these changes immediately.
What do we do?
The answer’s simple – increase the amount of natural, easy-to-digest foods – fruits and nuts. Reduce the amount of animal foods, hard-to-digest foods and processed foods proportionately – packaged foods, meat, eggs, milk, cereals and pulses.
Another important thing to do is encourage your body to keep up internal heat, by taking a cold water bath in the morning and exercising daily.
While many people around us are shivering in spite of wearing sweaters, those of us on a raw diet, exercising and taking cold baths, are walking around wearing thin shirts, because our bodies are hot! 😀
Check out ten yummy healing recipes for Deepavali without oil, refined flours, sugar, milk, ghee or butter: