This is a simple question – but the answer might surprise you. Before we answer the question, reading, hearing and looking around in America gives you hints. It is no secret that obesity has grown in the US. While some of it is heredity and other uncontrollable factors, lot of it depends on what and how much one eats. I got a sense of it only last week. My tummy was feeling full, almost tight even 3-4 hours after lunch. Not that I burped after lunch. I had added a tall glass of Latte to it and my belly never got to rest. How many parents tell their children to ‘eat only enough to keep you going’? We don’t bother to tell them ‘you are eating too much’. We would like them to be satiated and happy. In a way, feeding children equates to keep them happy. After all, in the poorer parts of the world, food is scare and we see pictures and videos of children scrambling for food. It is a unwritten rule not to cut out your child from eating all they want. Now take this same thought to the poorer and less educated families. Routinely fast food is the source of food. Restaurants give you a LOT of food for the price, at least in the US. Case in point. I had dinner at an Indian restaurant last week while I was travelling in Waukegan, IL. I ordered an side dish, bread and a drink. I could only eat 1/2 the bread (naan) and 20% of the side dish. Thank god for the drink (salt lassi), my tummy was full. It was a sheer waste of food. The waiter checked on me and was surprised that I left such a lot of food back. The chef came by and checked if everything was okay. This happens all the time when I eat dinner on business as I am alone and these three items are way more sufficient for me. Coming back to the less educated (about eating habits, I mean). Do all the children know they don’t have to eat all that is served? Do you HAVE to eat the whole burger, all the fries AND drink that big glass (actually termed regular) of shake or soda? It is way too much calories for one meal. Just check after your meal. Does your tummy feel bursting out? Do you feel heaviness even after 2 hours? The human intestines and belly are remarkably designed as the other parts of the body. They expand if needed. The more you feed, the more they expand. Simple. If not, we would all have enviable middles. When such expansion is given, those who don’t realize what is happening will not even think about ending early or foregoing part of the food? Why waste food? It is yummy, by-the-way. I Love to eat, often heard quote, isn’t it? Love for food shouldn’t be the same as gluttony. When the food has to fill all the stomach and has no way to burn (the body doesn’t need extra calories if you don’t need them, right?), the body starts to adapt and conserves the excess. This excess slowly builds and goes nowhere and turns out to be the ghastly, unhealthy middles and bottoms.
So what should we do? First of all listen to your belly.You must feel light in the tummy 2 hours after a meal. If not, you have taken more than you should. Now, this is a slightly adaptable rule. Just use it with common sense. The second, actually the BEST rule, is the yogic rule about eating – 50-25-25. Fill your belly with 50% food, 25% water and leave 25% EMPTY. Yes, a bit of an empty stomach goes a long way. This is hard I understand to follow today. You have to compensate by spacing out eating snacks and eat only when you need. Practice this once or twice a week and you will start seeing the results, least of which is a feeling of goodness. Think about the alternative – carrying a FULL stomach all the time; that never feels healthy.