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By Nadia Marshall
"Insidious: operating or proceeding in an inconspicuous or seemingly harmless way but actually with grave effect."
One of the most important things we can do for our AGNI is to stop insidious overeating. I'm not talking about hard core binge-fests, Christmas style. I'm talking about that insidious small-scale overeating that most of us do every single day for at least one of our meals, sometimes more. I'm talking about that moment where we've finished our first plate of food.... we take a few moments to decide whether or not to go for seconds because we think we might be full..... and then we go anyway.
This is the moment when the 'Bugger It' seed or voice in our head speaks a little louder than the more sensible, caring seeds of 'Moderation' and 'Restraint'. Those seeds are quietly whispering 'I think you've had enough'... 'If you have more you might feel uncomfortable for the next few hours'. The 'Bugger It' seed on the other hand says 'Ahh bugger it... that is so freaking delicious, have just a little more'..... and so you get up and go for that second plate.
The problem is, you still feel okay at the end of the second plate. You don't need to undo your pants and recline on the sofa for the next 4 hours to recover. So you do it again the next day... and the next. But... you have just put your AGNI under pressure. You've given it more food to digest and less space to do it in. If you do this every day your AGNI is going to suffer. It is going to get weaker. It will become Variable and eventually Dull. Even if you're doing everything else 'right' to look after your AGNI, regular small-scale overeating is going to be your undoing. Trust me.
So the lesson in this little blog is simple... you can enjoy your food... just don't ENJOY your food. That is... stop eating after your first plate/bowl (unless you're still genuinely hungry).
Your stomach is about the size of your fist. When you eat, you want your stomach to be about 1/2 full of solids, 1/4 full of liquids and a 1/4 empty to allow room for proper churning. If you cup your two hands together... that is the amount of food that Ayurveda recommends having in a single meal (this of course varies with how heavy the meal is - have more if it's soup, less if it's mud cake). That's not a huge amount of food. So don't over do it, especially at dinner time.
Ayurveda gives a wonderful measure for this. It says that you should bring your attention to the first belch you do while eating... that belch is the sign for saying you've had enough! Outstanding!
Here are my tips for preventing insidious overeating:
1. Serve your food up on a smaller plate/in a smaller bowl so it looks like more
2. Slow down when eating
3. Chew your food more thoroughly
4. Be more mindful - pay attention to every mouthful
5. Put your cutlery down between mouthfuls
6. Avoid talking too much while eating (this kills your mindfulness)
7. Listen out for your little 'I'm nearly full thanks' burp. That is your AGNI talking to you...
This week, try a little experiment for me. Eat whatever you usually eat. Don't change anything at all except... eat a little less at every meal than you normally would.... and see how that changes your appetite for the week. See how much lighter you feel in the mornings... and less sleepy you feel in the afternoons. And, see if you lose just a little weight. Try it. It is such a simple AGNI-loving thing to do!
I'm not talking under-eating by the way... I'm just talking not overeating!
Let me know how you go!
Love Nadia xx
Agni - the digestive fire.
Ama or Aama - undigested food waste, toxins.
Ojas- the foundation of our immune system and longevity.
Dhatus - the tissues of the body.
Srotas - the channels of the body.
Vata - the air/ether
intelligence in the body.
Pitta- the fire/water
intelligence in the body.
Kapha- the water/earth intelligence in the body.
Sattva- the quality of purity, intelligence, peace and love.
Rajas- the quality of
turbulence and activity.
Tamas- the quality of
dullness, darkness and inertia.
Rasa - the taste of a food (Sweet, Sour, Salty, Pungent, Bitter, Astringent)
Virya - second level of digestion (either Heating or Cooling)
Vipaka - third level of digestion, the deep taste of a food (can be Sweet, Sour or Pungent)
Prabhav - the 'special effect' of a food or herb/spice
Rasa - also the name for plasma tissue
Rakta - blood tissue
Mamsa - muscle tissue
Meda - fat tissue
Asthi - bone tissue
Majja - nerve & bone marrow tissue
Shukra - sexual reproductive tissue