WHAT DOES IT DO TO YOU? HOW CAN YOU MINIMIZE NEGATIVE EFFECTS?
Are you prone to a problem with 'Frequent Leftovers'?
A Fresh Look At LeftoversIt's undeniable - fresh food has a "je ne sais quoi" about it - something special even if you can't detect the difference in a lab. There's something bright, juicy and colorful about fresh food. Classical Ayurveda recommends against eating leftovers, for several reasons. But is leftover food really as bad as Ayurveda claims? There were no refrigerators in ancient India when the Ayurvedic rules were written. Does this rule still apply in modern times? Should you take a fresh look at leftovers?
The majority of people eat leftovers to save time and money. According to an OECD study in 2011, Americans spend only 30 minutes a day on average cooking, thanks to leftovers, the microwave, take out chinese, and pizza delivery.
So what are the pros and cons of eating leftovers? In some cases, leftovers may be healthier than the alternatives. Don't have time to cook lunch on busy office days? Bagging last night's dinner can mean the difference between enjoying a healthy meal versus a mad dash to a nearby fast food chain. Some of my clients are so adamant about following 'no leftovers' rule of Ayurveda that they end up binging on ice-cream rather than day-old veggies. Clearly, eating leftovers is better than fast food and binging on ice-cream. While we can't always make the perfect choices in life, we can strive to make the best ones. At times life is a great balancing act.
Nutritional Value of LeftoversLet's take a look at some of the costs of leftovers. The fact remains that the longer food sits, whether raw or cooked, the less nutritional value it has. Here we should draw a distinction between the medicinal value or a food and the nutritional value. The medicinal value of food evaporates very quickly with the essential oils and breakdown of other unique phytochemicals. The nutritional value, on the other hand, often degrades more slowly.
The nutritional value in cooked food degrades faster than raw, as in the experiments above. Whether lettuce or potato, your food is often still alive until it is chopped or cooked, even after it has been picked. These foods, while living, are still nutrient dense. Once cooked, your food is definitively dead. As cells decompose so do nutrients and phytochemicals. Enzymes within the cells themselves may auto-digest many of the nutrients.
Exposure to heat, oxygen, light, and many other factors further reduces nutritional value of food. Cooked food that sits in the fridge for several days may have very little nutritional value left in it. Reheating food causes further nutritional degradation. For example, vitamin C and all the B vitamins are very heat sensitive.
Digestibility of Leftovers
Some of my Vata clients with weak digestion simply cannot digest leftover food without stomach upset. Overnight, much of the starch in leftover food like pasta, potato, and rice turns into an indigestible starch called resistant starch. Resistant starch is more like fiber than food. These indigestible fibers lead to gas and bloating for Vata individuals.
Resistant starch isn't all bad. Overweight individuals will be pleased to know that leftover pasta, potato and rice has significantly fewer calories and higher fiber than freshly cooked starches as a result of its indigestibility. These individuals may benefit from leftover carbohydrates, i.e. cook your rice a day in advance if you're trying to lose weight.
Meat proteins, on the other, start to break down when left to sit, rendering the meat easier to digest. Therefore, Vata individuals may benefit from leftover meats. Note that meats generally offer few micronutrients, and total protein content remains relatively the same a day later so there are few drawbacks to leftover meat. Take caution as older meats are much more likely to be rancid.
Are Leftovers Toxic?
Ayurveda believes leftover foods contain ama, which basically means toxicity in Ayurveda. The longer leftovers sit, the more toxic they become due to fermentation by bacteria. Cooked foods turns rancid especially quickly. So, between indigestibility and toxicity, eating leftovers can turn an otherwise healthy bowel into a fermenting cauldron of rotten food.
The following guidelines will ensure your food is safe to eat:
The Value of Freshness?
Probably the biggest reason not to eat leftovers is loss of taste. Taste is important in Ayurveda, because taste is how your body chooses and relates to food. Taste is the medicine of the food. Whether you're eating lots of leftovers, TV dinners, or food that comes from a box instead of a farm, these foods have been sitting for a long time, and have lost a lot of their flavor.
Adults may overlook this change in taste. The taste buds of adults are dull, so they may not even notice. Children have far superior taste buds. Kids know intuitively that something in the food has changed - that's why they don't like leftovers. They complain when they have to eat leftovers.
Just imagine day mushy, day old green beans. Wouldn't you say they are tasteless? How would you compare stale bread to freshly baked? Wouldn't it lack aroma? Try the following experiment: Take two sprigs of mint. Cut up one sprig of mint and put it in a bowl. A day later, cut up the other sprig and place in a second bowl. Smell the mint from each bowl. The smell of the newly cut mint will be fresh, vibrant, and alive. The day old mint may hardly smell at all, even though both sprigs are the same age. Try to same experiment with a sweet potato. Cut it in half and cook one half. The next day cook the other half. Smell each half. These experiments illustrate the remarkable difference between freshly cut or cooked food and leftovers.
The aroma and unique flavor in food comes from the essential oils. Along with the flavor, much of the medicinal value of food is contained in the essential oils. These essential oils rapidly evaporate from food as it sits. Therefore as food sits, the fresh flavor and medicinal value evaporate, even if the nutrients do not. Moisture also evaporates from food as it sits. Despite dryness, leftover food may also be soggy.
In Ayurveda, like increases like. Stale foods make you feel stale, while fresh foods restore vibrancy to your step. Food that lacks taste causes you to eat more because it all tastes like cardboard, and fails to satisfy you.
Leftover food is yesterday's news - a day late and a dollar short. Just because your body was craving red meat yesterday doesn't mean you have a red meat deficiency today. Your body may have a new deficiency. It's better to be in the moment with food, instead of one day behind.
How to Save Time and and Stay Vibrant
Now let's talk about some solutions. One way to avoid leftovers is by using a crockpot. Start your crock pot the night before, so your food is ready to take to work the next morning. Simply toss in some veggies, vegetable oil, salt and your favorite protein. In the morning, remove from heat and toss in your favorite spices. Bring a garnish of plain yogurt, fresh herbs and nuts to complement your afternoon crock pot meal.
For a quick meal that night, start by steaming some frozen veggies. Frozen vegetables often have more nutrients than produce left to decay on the shelves. Organic frozen corn, peas and other veggies are non-GMO and easy to cook quickly. Pre-boil 3-4 eggs so you have a reliable protein source, sautee chicken breast, or crack open a can of organic, canned beans.
Drizzle the ensemble with olive oil, garnish with fresh herbs, and sprinkle on some chopped nuts. Buy or pre-make sauces and dressings to have on hand to add to your pre-cut steamed veggies and rice. Sauces, fresh herbs and nuts make it easier for you to create something enjoyable on the fly with a variety of tastes and textures. Whip up a salad, toss in nuts and fresh herbs. This is a great way to get a fresh lively dinner every night.
As a final option, you can always toss a sweet potato in the oven and bake it. For a side, try steamed greens with tahini dressing. Put miso in a warm water for a quick miso soup, so you don't have to think too hard after a long day.
Note: However tempting to throw in some fresh food to liven up leftovers, Ayurveda recommends against mixing new food with old.
Leftovers are healthier than fast food, ice-cream, vending machines, and most processed food. Leftover carbohydrates may have fewer calories, while leftover meats are easy to digest. However, there are some important drawbacks to leftovers as well, including loss of taste, nutrients, indigestibility, and potential for toxicity. For practitioners, the following table summarizes the properties of leftover foods from an Ayurvedic point of view:
ARE YOU NEW TO AYURVEDA?Are you wondering what Ayurveda is and how to use it for 'Frequent Leftovers' and health in general? LEARN MORE
DIET FOR IMBALANCES RELATED TO 'FREQUENT LEFTOVERS'Augment your diet with these specially chosen ingredients below which may be useful for 'Frequent Leftovers'. Individual results vary depending the cause of your imbalance and by constitution. Please research the ingredients below to find which are most helpful for you, and check with your doctor before making any changes to your health and wellness routine.
PRODUCTS FOR IMBALANCES RELATED TO 'FREQUENT LEFTOVERS'
FIND MORE DIET RELATED PRODUCTSSee our herbs & products in these categories. Or, click here for general Diet Tips.
DISCLAIMER: The pathogenesis of each person's condition is unique, and so the diet must be fit to the individual and the unique root causes of the condition in your body.
WHAT IMBALANCES CAN IT CAUSE?
AGGRAVATES THESE DOSHAS & QUALITIES 'Frequent Leftovers' is likely to aggravate the following doshas and qualities. If you have a systemic imbalance of one of these doshas or qualities,
Ayurveda would generally recommend removing, substitute or lessen the frequency of 'Frequent Leftovers'.
Imbalance AccumulatesImproper food and lifestyle causes balances to accumulate. Ayurveda shows you exactly which doshas and qualities will accumulate in your body. Once these doshas and qualities accumulate too much, they will begin to cause disease. You can reduce an imbalanced dosha or quality by removing things that aggravate it from your diet and lifestyle.
V = VATA, P = PITTA, K = KAPHA
To learn more about the symbols above, click on them.
FAVOR DIETS, LIFESTYLES & HERBS WITH THESE MEDICINAL EFFECTSEverything you eat has an effect on your body, which Ayurveda categorizes in a simple and easy way, using gunas. Gunas are qualities (like cold and hot) that describe the effect a food or herb has on your body. Cooling foods like cucumber, decrease metabolism. Heating foods like chili pepper, stimulate your body and increase metabolism. For 'Frequent Leftovers', you should select foods with the following qualities (gunas). Individual results will vary, based on your body type and the root cause of your imbalance.
ADDRESS ISSUES IN STAGE OF DISEASE 0FREQUENT LEFTOVERS IS IN STAGE OF DISEASE 0 - POTENTIAL CAUSE
Potential causes increase and disturb your imbalanced doshas and qualities, causing them to accumulate and spiral out of control. For example, if you're overheated and eat a chili pepper, heat may become excessive and cause disease. As a dosha or quality accumulates in your body according to your dietary and lifestyle habits, it is more and more likely to cause disease. You can reduce an imbalanced dosha or quality in two ways, by removing, or lessening the frequency of aggravating causes from your diet and lifestyle, as well as by favoring balancing diet and lifestyle practices. For example, try eating something as cool as a cucumber when you're overheated, instead of a chili pepper.
REDUCE THESE RELATED SYMPTOMS & HABITSThe following symptoms & habits may be related to 'Frequent Leftovers'. See your quiz results for a computerized assessment of your body type. Please click on the symptoms below to learn more about them.
DO YOU WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT YOUR UNIQUE BODY?
What aggravates it? What heals it? Then get your Personal Ayurvedic Body Book! This book, written by founder and director of Joyful Belly, John Immel, is individually formatted for your unique body and will help you confidently choose food that restores your healthy glow to get you feeling like your best self. Just $19.99!
HOW AYURVEDA WORKSARE YOU WONDERING HOW AYURVEDA CAN HELP YOU?
WHY IS AYURVEDA THE RIGHT SOLUTION?Ayurveda strengthens the body, in addition to addressing the disorder. It take a holistic, systemic approach, instead of myopically focusing on the disorder in question. Ayurveda shows a person how to interpret signs and symptoms of imbalance, and how to address them using materials from home, so they can optimize their health on a continual basis. You can't take the doctor home with you, but you can take Ayurveda home with you. Ayurveda is the most advanced and easy to use home system for self healing with an exceptional focus on digestion.
HOW DOES AYURVEDA WORK?Ayurveda starts by identifying your body type, which identifies certain tendencies in your body to get sick (as well as identifying your strengths). It uses body type to determine the likely root causes of your disorders. Next, Ayurveda analyzes the nature of your disorder. It fits all your signs and symptoms into a pattern, expressed as a combination of gunas / qualities. For example, you may have a heat disorder, a cold disorder, or an oily disorder, etc. This simple categorical approach shows you how to correct systemic imbalances and strengthen your body as a whole.
On Joyful Belly, we've created an extensive categorization of food so you can easily match food to your imbalances (gunas). By eating an optimal diet that balances your gunas, your whole body is strengthened and the conditions that created the disorder are removed. Once the root causes of the disease are removed, the disease lessens in strength or disappears altogether. Additional remedies - such as herbs and lifestyle practices - focused on the specific disorder, can greatly enhance your healing.
Want to learn more about Ayurveda and its step-by-step approach to healing? Click below.LEARN MORE
GET STARTEDTo get started on your Ayurvedic journey, we first recommend that your find your body type by taking our free quiz. In Ayurveda, every solution is based on your unique body type, so by taking this quiz, you’ll get the best results.
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About the AuthorJohn Immel, the founder of Joyful Belly, teaches people how to have a healthy diet and lifestyle with Ayurveda. His approach to Ayurveda exudes a certain ease, which many find enjoyable and insightful. His online course Balance Your Ayurvedic Diet in a Week provides tools for gracefully healing with Ayurveda to thousands. John also directs Joyful Belly's School of Ayurveda , which specializes in digestive tract pathology & Ayurvedic nutrition. John and his wife Natalie recently published Explore Your Hunger: A Guide to Hunger, Appetite & Food.
John's interest in Ayurveda and digestive tract pathology was inspired by a complex digestive disorder acquired from years of international travel, including his public service work in South Asia. John's commitment to the detailed study of digestive disorders reflects his zeal to get down to the roots of the problem. His hope and belief in the capacity of each & every client to improve their quality of life is nothing short of a personal passion. John's creativity in the kitchen and delight in cooking for others comes from his family oriented upbringing. In addition to his certification in Ayurveda, John holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Harvard University.
John enjoys sharing Ayurveda within the context of his Catholic roots, and finds Ayurveda gives him an opportunity to participate in the healing mission of the Church. Jesus expressed God's love by feeding and healing the sick. That kindness is the fundamental ministry of Ayurveda as well.
Comments & Personal ExperiencesWhat are some of the reasons why you include 'frequent leftovers' in your life? Is there something you'd like to know about 'frequent leftovers'?
(4.75 out of 5 stars) 4 reviews, 15 likes
So why cook ur food at all then, why not just eat RAW?
Well this article was disconcerting because with my work, its physical/mental/emotional demands, the hours and how utterly exhausted i often am plus the demands at home as my husband is limited in how much he can do (but his emotional support is priceless), i rely on healthy leftovers to make sure i am not eating out or take-out, not fixing meals with processed foods at home. I just have to have it as easy as it can be to stick with it 75-80% of the time. I guess i am going to have to pick between better of 2 evils.
Raw food is considered difficult to digest - especially for Vata types.