‘Dieting’ has been the buzzword for a decade now. A lot has been spoken about what to eat and what not, how to eat, and when to eat. But exactly ‘how much food should you eat is never spoken.
How much rice, wheat, fruits and veggies, pulses, and grains do you need every day to live a healthy body? Well, the resources are scanty. An elaborative personalized description of the food scoops ceases to exist.
I have often received this question from many of my patients. Sir, should we stop eating rice? Sir, at my age, do I need to eat 2 rotis or 3, 3 idlis or 4? How to know how much is required by the body and how much is overeaten?
Well, our ancient sages exactly how much to eat and when to eat!
Centuries of experience came down in the Vedas. It elaborates on the details of how, what, and when to eat for optimal health! The Vedas say a person should only eat to satiate his hunger. He should neither eat more nor less.
The sole purpose of food is nourishment, it should not be a source of temptation.
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Does your scoop make a difference?
An extra scoop eaten every day does more than one can imagine. It causes trouble in digestion and results in poor sleep, concentration, and mood. It also causes lethargy and poor performance. But that’s not it!
Most modern ailments are rooted in obesity which is the cumulative result of overeating. From diabetes to arthritis to depression to cancer, obesity is a cruel killer.
Today, more people are dying because of overeating than undereating. Obesity not only increased the mortality rate but also deterred the quality of life thus adding to the global healthcare burden.
So, a tiny scoop can actually cause big trouble.
People should eat only as much as is needed for the body to function properly. But how to calculate – ‘how much food should you eat’?
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How much food should you eat?
Every person is different and so are their bodily requirements. That’s why there is no single scoop to satiate everyone’s needs. The portion on the plate should be customized and personalized. And Ayurveda is the only stream of medicines that has a personalized approach to healthy living.
The quantity of the meal depends on several factors. Apart from your body type (dosha) and hunger, it’s the mood, the previous meal, and the gap between two meals that should be considered.
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The hunger meter
The answer to when and how much to eat comes from your own hunger meter. Ayurveda says that one should only eat when they feel the natural urge of eating. And they should eat only till their hunger is completely satiated.
Hunger indicates that the previous meal is completely digested and that the enzymes are ready to digest more. If the system does not receive food to digest when hungry, then the enzymes will cause acidity.
For your main meals, you should eat until your hunger satiates. The portion of food should match your digestion strength. If you eat even after your hunger satiates then some food will remain undigested thus resulting in an accumulation of ama in the body.
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But, when to stop?
You should not eat when you wake up with little sleep left in your eyes (stop sleep eating). The stop should not come when you are completely full to your capacity. You should stop while still having some space left for water.
As for snacks, never indulge in too much. If it’s just for your taste buds then limit it to a bare minimum. Trust me, the body does not extract any useful nutrients from unhealthy snacks. It’s just a burden that burns the fuel. So, the least is the best.
For healthy snacks like dry fruits, fruits, seeds, and nuts. You can find the recommended portion of each for daily consumption. Check it before binging.
The voice of your mind!
Sometimes when you come across your favourite dishes, you might instantly feel the urge to eat. But that’s not the voice of your digestive system. It is the voice of your greedy mind fooling you to eat more.
This happens especially with foods rich in carbohydrates. Sweets, chips, and all such foods are hard to resist because the brain fools you into eating more. So, whenever you hear that voice in your mind suppress that with the logic of your stomach.
One more problem in our Indian traditional system is that extra spoon which people love to force on others. Just like you can’t wear an oversize dress, you should not eat an oversized meal, no matter how much they force. Resist, politely!
The gap between the meals
Ideally, you should have a fixed time for every meal that you follow every day. Like breakfast at 9 am lunch at 1 pm, snacks at 5 pm, and dinner at 9 pm. If you are an early riser then you should start your day with lemon and honey or green tea.
You can also tweak the timings at your convenience. But be sure to leave gaps between each meal and to take the meals at the same time every day.
If you feel any in-between urges then it’s best to drink water or eat juicy fruit, but refrain from using any packaged products like cookies and biscuits, chocolates, and chips. Also, if you are a night owl, then have dinner by 9 or 10 pm and take a glass of haldi doodh before bed.
The big question: How much food should you eat?
The key to healthy living lies in eating right and eating light. Eating what’s required by the body – neither more nor less. Keeping up with a variety of pulses and veggies, while limiting the intake of carbs is the key!
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