The amount of food we consume is just as important as the type of food we eat.
“The amount of food which, without disturbing the equilibrium (of dhatus and doshas of the body), gets digested as well as metabolized in proper time, is to be regarded as the proper quantity.” [Sutra 4]
Charaka is suggesting that if you eat a meal where the quantity is appropriate for your digestive capacity, you will experience smooth running digestion and metabolism, then get hungry again at the appropriate time for your unique body type and current levels of activity. My experience is that when my activity is regular, and my eating habits are stable, the more my hunger pattern becomes reliable and predictable. Daily variations aside, I believe that someone who can practically tell the time from their own level of hunger is someone who is showing signs of health, at least in terms of basic digestive harmony.
Many factors influence whether or not our doshas maintain composure while we digest a meal: quality of food, nature of food, emotional state while eating food, and the act of eating itself. But probably the most important factor is the quantity of food consumed, especially if we overeat. So if you often experience indigestion, look first at how much you are eating, and how often. Ask “am I hungry when I eat?” Find out if you are overeating. Normally, if you overeat, you will feel heaviness and perhaps sleepiness after meals. You may also get a feeling of chilliness after eating, reaching for another layer of clothing as your body is not able to allocate sufficient resources to both fuel digestion and periphery circulation.
It is not so, that the proper quantity of food does not depend upon the nature of food articles. If the food article is heavy, only three fourths or half of the stomach capacity is to be filled up. Even in the case of light food articles excessive intake is not conducive to the maintenance of the power of digestion and metabolism.
Stay tuned, tomorrow I will continue discussing the nature and quantity of food to eat for optimal digestion!