An experienced fire tender knows you need all of these items, in the right balance and timing, to have a good fire.
So how does our fire-making go wrong?
- Heavy food offered to your internal digestive fire in excess can overwhelm it and produce indigestion by stifling the fire.
- Insufficient heavy food and too much light food will weaken the fire by starving it.
- Large amounts of strong spices, fried food, or alcohol will cause the fire to flare up, which may scorch the fire-tender. (Excess alcohol overheats and dampens the fire simultaneously.)
The key to tending the digestive fire is to learn to accurately identify the moment of satiation, the first signs of which are feelings of energy, satisfaction, and gratitude. Complications set in because most people, for a wide variety of reasons, take these first signs of satiation as a cue to eat more. In a Hollywood world, the film’s score would loudly alert everyone to the danger approaching in that the next plate of food or glass of wine that will upset the eater’s digestive harmony. In the real world the score, while clear enough if we listen carefully, is sometimes too subtle to detect.
Like most skills proficient tending of your digestive fire is best developed through personal trial and error. Useful suggestions may be found by reading about eating well but even the best theory requires verification. Personal experience and paying attention to how the crucible of your own stomach works are the only sure ways to knowledge. In my opinion, one of the best sources of insight in this regard is to tend an actual fire, from ignition to ashes, and draw your conclusions from direct observation and intuition. As you watch the interplay flame, air, fuel and smoke you may put yourself on a surer course to avoiding gastronomical collisions this holiday season.
Scott Blossom is an Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medical practitioner in the San Francisco Bay Area. Visit www.DoctorBlossom.com to learn more about Ayurvedic food recipes, whole-food cleansing, and health consultations. He wants to thank his brother Michael for contributing to this article.