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Ever wonder if we are supposed to feel hungry? Like what if you feel hungry all the time? Or what if you never feel hungry at all? How hungry should we feel?
Sometimes we're taught that we're actually not ever supposed to feel hunger so we should eat five to six meals a day to avoid getting hungry.
Years back I saw a nutritionist and was told to eat five or six meals a day to never get hungry. And what happened? I gained some pounds within two weeks! My pants were tight and everything was tight. I felt heavy. I felt just really overall kind of awful. I knew it wasn't working for me.
It wasn't until I discovered Ayurveda that I figured out why eating all those small meals left me feeling so terrible.
So, what does Ayurveda say about hunger? It is good to feel hungry! Yay!
1. It is a signal from our digestive fire that the previous food has been digested and it's time for more. Agni, our digestive fire, is essentially saying, hey, I'm ready for a project now. I'm ready to digest the nutrients and use them appropriately because I'm hungry. I need a job to do. And so it is our signal to eat. If we are not feeling hungry, we need to wait until we actually do feel hungry because our bodies, our Agni, might still be processing some old food that was harder to digest, so sometimes we need to give it a rest. So that's number one. If we feel hungry, it's a signal to eat.
2. We should eat at the right time. So, it's not just, "I'm hungry all the time so I'm just going to keep eating and eating." It is, "Am I hungry at the right time?"
The right time is breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
We do not want to be eating wonky all day long. We don't want to eat dinner at 9:00 at night or lunch at 3:00pm. We want to keep it to a schedule.
So, breakfast is early-ish in the morning around 7:00 a.m. and it should be a small meal. Lunch should be around noon, anywhere between 11:30 and 1:00 is good. And that should be the biggest meal of the day. Dinner should also be small.
3. Eat according to your dosha.
Vatas do really well with like four meals a day actually because Vatas can't eat a whole lot at one time. They tend to munch and want to snack a lot. They can't eat a whole lot and then they burn through it and they're hungry again.
But! You don't want to munch like a little munchy goat all day long. We want to have the three meals. Now, vatas sometimes need a fourth meal a little bit later (like 8 or 8:30pm) like a little small bowl of rice, or a little handful of almonds, little handful of raisins, so that they can actually sleep the whole night through. Sometimes Vatas wake up in the middle of the night because they are hungry. So for Vatas, three or four meals a day.
For Pittas, three meals a day, and they will probably be hungry for all the meals at the right time. Pittas have no problem eating, that's for sure. They have strong fire, they're ready to eat, and they're excited to eat! Those three meals a day is good for a Pitta. Pittas have the fire element in them, might be hungry for a snack at like 10:00 a.m., or they might be hungry for snack in the afternoon if they've burned through their food. If you need a snack, my suggestion is having a piece of fruit.
Kaphas, will likely only be hungry for 1-2 meals a day. They don't have strong digestive fire, they have a slow, low burn. They digest their food a little bit slower and they don't get hangry like a pitta, they remain pretty happy-go-lucky. They don't need a lot of food. When kaphas eat too much it can cause weight gain, and other Kapha problems.
If you're feeling hungry, that's good! Eat at the right times, and specifically for your dosha if possible.
If you don't feel hungry, then you might not have fully digested the previous meal. So, skip a meal and don't eat until you feel hungry again. Let the digestive fire catch up and digest the food. Old food stuffs can become a problem and create what's called ama (toxins), which can cause a myriad of health problems. Give agni a chance to catch up.
Along with skipping a meal, sip some ginger tea. It's my go-to super favorite, and a great way to digest the old food because it gives strength to agni.
I hope this helps you. Chat your questions below in the comments. And I'd love to hear what you want to know "Ayurveda says about...fill in the blank!"
Meantime, keep bringing Ayurveda to life!
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They are easy, within your own power, and won't cost you anything but a little discipline.
Life is too short to go through our days energy-less. Regain your gusto with these practices.