Acharya Charak, the father of Ayurveda has said that a wise person should always take the right food, in the right quantity, at the right times. Such control over dietary senses nourishes the mind, body and soul.

The ancient wisdom encompasses everything about the best dietary practice. The three-pronged principle of right food, at the right time and in the right quantity although looks very simple, but is somehow difficult to understand and follow. In fact, right food at the right time and in the right quantity rule itself may vary according to every individual. It varies according to a person’s age, sex, activity, medical condition if any and the lifestyle. A single and simple repetitive mistake can make a huge difference in one’s nutritional status and wellbeing.

Right Food

Right food is the basic factor of healthy eating. To make it simple, we can saythat one must always include vegetables in meals, eat fresh fruits and sprouts as snacks, eat seasonal and local fresh fruit and vegetables and eat a variety of fruit and vegetables. Limit the consumption of baked and fried foods, packaged/ processed snacks and foods as they contain large amounts of trans-fats and salt. They increase the risk of high blood pressure and heart ailments. We must limit the consumption of foods and drinks containing high amounts of sugars, such as sweetmeats, candies and sweetened beverages. Added sugar causes weight gain and it increases the risk of type 2 diabetes as well. Instead of fried food or sweets, we should eat fresh fruit as snacks. Drink plenty of water.

Breakfast – Should be a blend of quick and slow absorbing carbohydrates and protein. Milk is the best thing. It provides muscle-building proteins and also carbohydrates, which provide slow but steady energy. Simple carbohydrates like fruits can also be added. Our traditional breakfast, whole grains and oatmeal make excellent food choices for breakfast.

Lunch– This is the most important meal of the day which provides sustained nutrition and calories to conduct all the day-long activities. As there is a long gap between lunch and dinner it should also help in avoiding sugar cravings during the late afternoon or evening. Our metabolic rate is at its highest during the afternoon hence it is easier to break down raw foods. That’s why our lunch must contain a lot of vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower, leafy vegetables and sprouts, which are high in fibre. For a steady and good supply of energy, include low GI carbohydrates like whole wheat, jawar, bajra, ragi, quinoa etc. Lunch must include a rich portion of protein like curds, sprouts, pulses, dals, eggs, chicken, fish, etc. One must include good fats.

Dinner – Dinner should be more or less similar to our lunch but in reduced quantity.

Right Time

When it comes to eating, the timing of meals is the key. Our body’s physiological clock plays an important role in determining the right time. That’s why it’s tricky to find out the right time of having food.

Breakfast – After an overnight sleep and 8 to 10 hrs of fasting our body is in intense need of energy so we must have our breakfast within 2/3 hrs of waking up. Don’t skip breakfast or delay it beyond 10 am.

Lunch – Lunch is the most important meal of the day, which keeps us running for the day. We must keep 3 to 4 hrs gap between our breakfast and lunch. Lunch should always be taken at noon and not later than 3 pm.

Dinner – Ideally, we should have our dinner by 7 pm. We must keep 3 hours gap in our dinner and bedtime, else it interferes with digestion and sleep.

If you are doing workouts, then the pre-workout meal is also necessary.

Right Quantity

In a healthy diet, what matters is not just the serving size of a meal but the quantity of nutrients like carbohydrates, proteins, fats, etc also matters. When we say a balanced meal then half of the plate should be vegetables and fruits, proteins should be 20% and cereals should form the remaining 30% of it.

The quantity of food to be taken depends upon one’s digestive strength. More the metabolic rate of the body more will be the calories required and burnt.  Any imbalance results in weight gain or weight loss. Quantity also depends on meal timings. The body’s metabolic rate is high during the day and low at night. As per Ayurveda, lunch should be the biggest meal of the day as this is the period when the Pitta is strongest in the body. It enables us to digest food in larger quantity. During the night our body is in resting mode with a lower metabolic rate hence it requires lesser food. That’s why our dinner or supper should be light. It helps in better digestion and sound sleep. 

We all know how important it is to eat a healthy balanced diet. But right food, at the right time, in the right quantity makes all the difference. To have a healthy meal, doesn’t require you to give up your favourite meals entirely!  Even changing the serving size, time of eating, accompaniments and cooking method can help…. Let’s try and adopt a healthy dietary practice!!!!


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