The ancient habit of sitting on the floor and eating food is no longer in regular practice now as the dining table has become the place where we go to keep the freshly cooked food once we bring it from the kitchen and after that the action of going there to sit and eat has become a kind of daily routine. Although the earlier way of sitting on the floor to eat is considered an old tradition and is mostly followed as a part of auspicious rituals during festivals, it has been shown in Ayurveda and also approved by the dieticians that this method of consuming food has many health benefits. However, some of the families who love following ancient Indian traditions or find the way of sitting on floor to eat as a convenient part of their lifestyle still obey the old way of consuming food. There is no exact mention of the time period when the Indians changed their lifestyle of eating by shifting their food from floors to the dining table. However, it is commonly believed that the Indians have been influenced to follow the custom of eating food in the dining tables after witnessing the British rulers doing the same. Apart from being influenced by the style of eating, the cuisine of India also witnessed much change and the cooking and consuming of food carrying fusion flavours of both the country and Western world came to be much appreciated.
Some of the ways in which you can benefit if you go back to the ancient Indian roots and start eating on the floor again-
While sitting on the floor to eat, we would generally rest in a cross legged position which is known as the Sukhasana yogic pose and get to ready to touch the plate for eating. Although it is believed that the Sukhasana yogic pose indicates our brain to prepare for digestive process, the practical aspect of sitting cross-legged on the floor to eat is that you will have to bend the upper portion of our body towards the plate to eat comfortably. Due to the multiple back and forth movements of our body, the abdominal muscles are activated which in turn increases the secretion of stomach acids thereby helping us to digest food properly.
Peaceful and calm way of eating food
Some of the chief benefits of Sukhasana pose is that it calms the mind and lessens stress, anxiety and mental tiredness thereby making the mind to be in a more peaceful state. With a calm mind, the habit of eating food becomes a joyful activity as we become more conscious of the food we are eating and can distinctly enjoy the flavour of it. Moreover, a peaceful mind helps us in consume the right quantity of food which is necessary for avoiding overeating and promoting proper digestion
Aids mindful eating and good for weight loss
As Sukhasana helps in improving concentration, therefore eating food in this position helps in mindful eating. According to celebrity nutritionist Rujuta Diwekar who has grabbed the limelight for charting out diet plans for various Bollywood actors like Kareena Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Varun Dhawan , the key to losing weight is concentrating on every aspect of food that we consume like the quantity we eat, the smell and taste of the food. She is also of the strongest view that eating in a cross legged position is when we can focus on the food in the most appropriate way. When the brain focuses on the food, we automatically get an idea of when our stomach gets ideally filled and therefore we would then stop eating. Therefore, a calm and focused mind promotes good digestion and prevents overeating which is the foremost practical way of preventing ourselves from gaining the extra weight.
Improves posture and flexibility
When we sit on the floor in a cross-legged position, our spine aligns itself and our shoulders naturally come in the perfect position thereby helping our body in gaining a correct posture. Moreover, the multiple back and forth movements of our body would also make us exercise every muscle in the upper portion of our body. Therefore, in addition to aiding proper digestion, the irritating pains that generally occur due to bad posture would reduce as our body would also undergo a good exercise. It keeps the body energetic and helps build lower body strength and stability.
Proper blood circulation
While eating, the phenomenon of sweating is quite common because the energy in our body is used for the process of digestion. So a good blood circulation is one of the most important function of a digestive process. While sitting on the floor, our heart gets the benefits of circulation as the blood is easily pumped through the heart to all the organs needed for digestion. This is in contrast to the pattern of circulation when we sit on a dining table and chair, wherein the blood flows to the legs as they are lower than the heart. Therefore, the heart can function well only when we sit on the floor to eat.
Some of the good traditions of yore which also forms a significant part of our culture should be followed as it helps us in living a healthy lifestyle. According to Diwekar, most people feel that “ health is built by eating that one super food or following that one exercise program” but it is the “small things that we do daily that come together over a period of time and lead to good health.” One small but daily healthy practice that our elders did was to sit on the floor and eat their meals.