HEALTH AND HUNGER
Having a healthy appetite is a sign of good health. And it’s important to be aware of hunger signals and satisfy them appropriately to stay healthy. The Indian system of medicine, Ayurveda places maximum emphasis on good digestive health. Known as Agni or the digestive fire, health is considered dependent on the healthy functioning of one’s agni.
In our busy lives, many of us have actually forgotten what it feels like to be hungry. Instead, eating simply happens “on the clock” with no proper awareness of hunger. Breakfast, lunch and dinner, food gets shovelled in to maximum capacity. This prevents food from being digested properly. And according to Ayurveda, this is the root cause of ill health which maybe manifested as acute illness, but equally over a long period of time, it may result in chronic illness.
In many religious traditions, fasting is included as part of their religious practices. Spiritual benefits aside, it is actually very good for the body to have periods when it is not processing food. It allows the body to focus more on eliminatory and excretory processes than digestion. Fasting needs to be done sensibly. Improper fasting can be highly detrimental. Simply going on a water diet if you have never fasted before is a bad idea. Do your own research on fasting and incorporate it periodically.
Additionally, the way in which hunger is satisfied is important. One needs to be mindful of all the sensations whilst eating to ascertain what and how much our body truly needs. This maybe different to what our tongue may want! In the yoga tradition, we recommend eating silently and mindfully sitting in the cross legged position. One of the biggest problems all over the world, is overeating. Do you know studies have been conducted on mice which are either overfed or underfed? The overfed ones die faster! Overeating, digestive unawareness, obesity and chronic disease is the progression that you want to avoid. I have not even touched on emotionally based eating, but that is another topic altogether!
The way to do this is to come back to the very basic sensation of hunger. Don’t be scared of letting your hunger become deeper and stronger. See what happens when you don’t instantly gratify the sensation. See how you feel when you eat just half of your normal quantity. See how you feel when you fast on fruits for a meal. You need to become aware of your own body so that you know what it truly needs. Use this year to start tuning into that and watch your health improve. Energy, sleep, happiness, everything will be influenced by paying attention to this.
In Health and Wellness