Monday, January 30, 2012

Yoga meal times and health

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Fasting... usually when u do yoga regularly, u eat only two proper meals a day. One in the morning, heaviest with all the stuff u want in -- vegetables, starch, protein etc. And the second one around 6.30 pm(up to 8.30 pm). When u train to become an instructor you become rather passionate about this regimen and it becomes part of your lifestyle. Anything that veers from this, feels `Uhh??!! ' And the fantastic thing about this is that you realise that two proper meals is all the body needs and in between these, u are feeling light, lithe and energetic.

People misunderstand continuously eating (promoted by some dieticians as a way to hike metabolism) as healthy, and that if they fill themselves with healthy food regularly, they are onto a win-win situation healthwise. Actually giving gaps for the tract, so that it can deal with the food u dumped with it, and allows it the time and strength  to clean up the debris of all that. The gaps, more than the food u pile on, help the gut. Think of it as a hardworking machine, think of the stomach as u yourself.. then, answer honestly the question if you would rather be working continuously; or would you be happier with appropriate rest breaks and feel more productive for that... Your gut is you, what you feel... only it does not know how to communicate it to you.. and tries by making you lethargic, heavy, stiff and dull when you overeat..

According to research, when you eat with wise gaps between meals, you allow other things to fall in place: --
  • It has been found that the different actors in your immune health -- the T-cells, the neutrophils, the immunoglobulin levels (apart from a lot of others which will confuse u technically and the only reason I am not listing here) are boosted so you do NOT  fall sick!
  • The removal of  debris from cellular activity and cleansing that happens continuously in your body and which keeps your energy levels high,  happen more effectively when you give wide gaps between meals.
Of course, this meal spacing cannot happen overnight. It comes from a regular yoga practice which then helps you balance your insides so your naturally do not reach for everything around and lead it to your mouth in the mistaken idea that it is healthy!!  A regular (read daily or at least five times a week) yoga sadhana with a strong and sustained pranayama practice ups your energy levels and (your life force, though scientific community may not quite relate to that term:) so that your meal needs are naturally reduced. ...

For many of us genuine yoga-freaks this is a matter of daily experience.


Anonymous said...


I had a few queries regarding the meal spacing. I am a beginner- attending Iyengar Yoga classes only since last 6 months. I began this primarily for my back problems. I also suffer from acidity quite often. Regarding your point of having 2 big meals instead of multiple small ones, I too agree with you and don't agree with the viewpoint that body goes into starvation mode etc. But my only doubt was regarding the fact that keeping body hungry for longer periods can lead to acids building in the stomach and consequently leading to acidity. Am I missing something here from what you said?


Shameem Akthar said...

In the south, when we were kids, and my parents generation, we had a big meal, then we carried home a small lunch dabbha, and when we came home we ate a tiffin (dosa etc) -- one never had a late dinner as far I can recall. The late dinner is a convenience of the contemporary generation because it is commuting further from the home -- since the gap between home meals is so large, there is a tendency to pile on.

When u have a heavy breakfast, and make it the heaviest meal of the day, you will find that you are not hungry at the normal lunch time... Again, the light breakfast is a western import, plus convenient for women who are now working, plus everybody is getting uplate and rushing and do not have the time for a heavy breakfast. If the breakfast is heavy, where is the question of keeping the stomach empty for long.. the stomach is very small-- it lies on the left side of your body, and takes up max space of your palm size (tho is elastic and grow -- which explains the bariatric surgery done on obese people to clip it back to its original size). And the entire digestive tract, from mouth to anus, is 32 feet long. The small intestine is 26 feet long and the food has to be there long enough for nutrients to be absorbed. When you keep eating you are not giving these parts of their body the time to absorb -- so your question is answered here I hope.. if you eat wisely in the morning, you have got the energy for a long haul.. because the energy is right and fit. One feels tired when one overeats...
and like I said, the meal spacing happens automatically,b ecause the body is in an efficient mode, only when your yoga practice is regular. The meal rules do not apply for those with a bad, weak or erratic practice, obviously.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reply. I guess one of the problems I have is my breakfast and lunch are almost the same quantity-- moderate. This means I have a empty stomach (or almost) till I have my dinner at 9/9.30. I have now moved since last 2 weeks to having dinner at 8.00 on days I am home early. But your explanation was quite insightful and demolishes the new age concept of having multiple small meals.



Ananth said...

I agree. I am a regular practitioner of yogaasanas, praanayama and dhyaana and have been on two meals for the past 2 years or so. In fact I think I am consuming 25% of what I used to earlier but am fitter and more energetic.