It is really a difficult question to answer . The quantity of food that we take varies based on mood , what we had eaten on previous meal , what is the nature of present meal , whether the previously taken food is completely digested or not etc. Though there are uncertain factors , there are a few general rules that help to answer — how much food to eat per day
Time for the food to get digested
The quantity of food should be such that it gets digested before we take food next time. So. if you are taking only two meals per day , then relatively the quantity of food can be more , so that it keeps you energized throughout the day , till the second meal is taken at night . If you are accustomed to 4-5 meals per day . (which is recommended in diabetics, certain type of gastritis patients etc.), the quantity of food should be smaller. It sounds more like defining the upper limit of food quantity . But it also defines the lower limit as well. Meaning – the food quantity should be not so high that when the next meal time arrives, you are still not hungry and it should not be too low that before next meal time, you already start feeling hungry.
Based on Guru Laghu
Ayurveda classifies foods into two main categories .
Guru – heavy , those foods that impart heaviness to the body , those , after taking which , you feel heavy , those which take longer time to get digested .
Example wheat , Fresh wine , black gram , cow pea , lablab bean , mutton , Fish , ash gourd , dates , Jamun fruit , onion , garlic , cow milk , buffalo milk , jaggery , honey , sesame , dairy products , sweet products , fried foods, etc.Laghu – light , those foods that impart lightness to the body , those , after taking which , you feel light , those which take shorter time to get digested . They are pretty easily digested. Example: old rice, green gram, goat milk, camel milk, chick pea, lentils, grass pea, lemon, old wine, moringa (drum stick), pomegranate, curnin seeds, hot water, coconut water, butter milk etc. Foods that are heavy, should be had less in quantity. – About half to one third of stomach . Foods that are light , can be more than those with heavy , up to one third of stomach . How to decide if one third of stomach is filled up or not? – It is left to your own observation It is that point of time while you take food, that you no more feel comfortable.
Time of the day Usual rule is to have good amount of breakfast, moderate amount of lunch and less amount of dinner. Makes sense , because , you will require more calories in the moming , moderate in the afternoon and lesser at night .
Select the quantity of food according to the strength of digestive fire
When the digestive fire is of severe strength , one would take large quantity of food because there is severe hunger When the digestive fire is of moderate strength , one would take moderate quantity of food because there is moderate hunger • When the digestive fire is of less / feeble strength , one would take less quantity of food because there is less hunger The quantity of food also varies in different seasons. This is because the digestive fire is severe in Hemanta season i.e. early winter while it is less in Varsha season i.e. monsoon. Therefore the person eats more food in early winter season and less in monsoon season. Similarly the quantity of food also varies in accordance to age. This is because the digestive fire is severe in youngsters and teenagers while it is less in old aged people. Therefore the youngster eats large / good quantity of food while the old aged person eats less quantity of food. Thus , depending on the strength of digestive fire , the quantity of intake of food will vary in the same person
Ideal quantity of food
definition Ideal quantity of a given food for a given person is that which gets easily digested in proper time without causing hindrance in the constitution / personality and normal functioning of different parts of the body. This definition is different for different kinds of food in the same person. This means to tell that the ideal quantity of a particular food is different from the ideal quantity of another food in a same person. The digestive fire responds and digests different foods in different types. Example , in a person having moderate digestive fire. 200 grams of food x may get easily digested without causing any discomfort in proper time. On the other hand, another food y in the same quantity may take long time to get digested, may produce mild to moderate discomfort or pain and hamper few functions in the body. So food y should either be used less often or avoided or used in lesser quantity. One may observe that food y when taken in 100 grams quantity may get easily digested in the same time as food x gets digested when taken in 200 grams quantity
Examples of diseases due to over nourishment
- Urinary disorders
- Skin diseases
- Ama and Kapha diseases
- Edema etc
How much food should one eat ?
Acharya Charaka gives a simple mathematical solution to solve the problem of right quantity of food to be consumed ‘ .
He tells that kukshi i.e. belly should be divided into three equal portions .
- One third of belly should be reserved for solid foods.
- One third of belly should be reserved for liquid foods.
- One third of belly should be left vacant for action of vata, pitta and kapha.
If one consumes food in this pattern, he will not become victim of diseases and other bad impacts caused by improper consumption of food. This shows that one should consume foods , including solid and liquid portions to three fourth of one’s capacity . Solid foods should be consumed to one third of one’s capacity and liquid foods to one third of one’s capacity . This capacity differs from person to person and between different body types