People often ask, if there was only one food-related rule in Ayurveda, what would it be?
There is one principle that is very simple yet effective. It is now even confirmed by modern science! It is called ‘adhyashana’ – not eating before the previous meal is digested (at least has left the stomach). Snacking or having frequent meals leads to the situation where you still have some food from a previous meal in your stomach at the moment when you decide to have your next mouthful of something. The digestion process will have to start all over again. This will usually result in incompletely digested products that are neither good for building tissues, nor ready for excretion. These products are called Āma* in Ayurveda which is often incorrectly translated as ‘toxins’. They circulate in the body interfering with normal processes in tissues and organs and ultimately lead to disease.
The following paper basically shows that having appropriate intervals between meals is as efficient as using anorectic drugs in reducing obesity and metabolic syndrome. It is an open access paper meaning you can read it for free. It is pretty cumbersome and one could hardly guess from the title what practical outcomes it may contain, but here is the link.
How long is that optimal intermeal interval, you may ask.
It will totally depend on:
- your digestion on that day,
- time of the day,
- type of food.
Many people experience it as heaviness in their stomach if they have eaten too early after the previous meal. Some will mention heartburn and acid reflux, some – bloating soon after eating. Whatever it is, you can find out by observing yourself and learning to see those connections.
* If you are in need of a biochemical analogy here, you can think of Āma as different biomarkers and risk factors, antibodies that are produced in allergies or other autoimmune conditions, and similar molecules that “should not be there normally”.