Ayurveda, based largely on subjective self-observation, and the observation of others, finds that foods can be usefully categorized in terms of their heaviness. Heavy foods (guru) take longer to digest and more easily create a sensation of heaviness compared to lighter (laghu) foods which digest more quickly.
The following list gives a rough idea of relative heaviness of foods in increasing order from lightest to heaviest:
Nuts & Seeds
Clearly, a meat based meal is heavier than a plant based meal. So some adjustment has to be made to accommodate for the relative heaviness of the meal you are eating and the quantity you eat. Again, the onus is on you to listen, to be tuning in while you eat, so that you don’t go past the point of satiation. The notion that we ought not go past half to three-quarters stomach capacity is a good starting point. I find that providing I sit still, don’t talk too much, and chew my food thoroughly, my first burp tends to reliably indicate that I have eaten sufficient quantity. However, if that was a plate of steamed vegetables, I would expect to get hungry sooner than if I had eaten a plate of chickpea curry, rice, and poori.
A side note worth mentioning is that if the nature of food you eat is not adapted to your prakriti, you will not find a balanced hunger pattern. For example, if you are a pitta type (hot, oily type) and you eat too many sour, salty, pungent, or oily foods, you will be feeding fire too much fuel and it will cause you to feel overly hungry. Knowing what tastes and other qualities of foods best suit your body type is a separate subject.
Taken in appropriate quantity, food certainly helps the individual in bringing about strength, complexion, happiness and longevity without disturbing the equilibrium of dhatus and doshas of the body. Take a look at how your body weight is doing, the quality of your skin, your overall energy levels and physical stamina. If you are overeating or under-eating, the result will be apparent: you will lack vitality and most likely be either over or under weight.
It is all well and good laying this groundwork, but how does it help in practice. This is where ayurveda comes in handy, as a way of life, we are encouraged to get to know ourselves on a deeper more intimate level and learn to listen to our innate wisdom, our bodies generally know what is best for us, providing we supply them with a natural context of space, time, whole-foods and nature.
Unfortunately, society is not always moving in a conducive direction when it comes to health and well-being. You have to take action for yourself. Self care and self love is always something to practice!