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How Hungry are You?
The most important principle in achieving your ideal weight is to gauge your healthiest state by personal measures, not by comparing yourself to others. We are constantly bombarded with artificial messages from the media about what the human body should look like, and it’s easy to forget that there is no need to create a “new you” in order to solve a weight problem. As long as you are not clinically obese (defined as being 25 percent above normal weight for your height), what you should weigh is really a subjective matter.
Your ideal weight is unique to you and your physiology. It cannot be expressed as a three-digit number on an insurance company’s chart. When you feel healthy, energetic, vital, and comfortable with your body, you are at your ideal weight. You are the sole person who can determine this.
Eat only when you are truly hungry
In the traditional Indian science of health known as Ayurveda, counting calories, depriving yourself of foods you enjoy, and extreme physical exertion have no place. In fact, 98 percent of all weight-loss program fail, and the weight of average Americans is increasing in spite of the fact that Americans spend more than $30 billion each year in efforts to lose weight or prevent weight gain.
In terms of weight control from an Ayurvedic perspective, one of the most helpful steps you can take is to cultivate attention and awareness around this simple precept: Eat only when you are hungry. This may sound obvious, but in fact many people use external cues that have nothing to do with hunger and end up eating out of habit, stress, social influence, or emotional need.
Find your level of hunger
To increase your awareness around your body’s true hunger signals, use this technique: Whenever you are ready to eat, place your hand on your abdomen and bring your awareness to your stomach. Then ask yourself the question, “How hungry am I?” Use the following levels as your guide:
0-1 You have no remnant of food in your stomach, and you feel a definite sensation of hunger. Most of us don’t reach zero—the level at which we are famished. Under normal circumstances, you are at level 1 approximately four hours after a meal. This is the point at which there is no food left in the stomach and you have completed your digestive activity. Begin eating at level 1.
2-4 At levels 2, 3, and 4, you are eating comfortably or have just eaten and are digesting food. You do not feel hunger at these levels.
5 As you are eating and begin to feel satisfied, you reach level 5. Waiting until you are hungry before eating and then eating about two cupped handsful of food will fill your stomach approximately two-thirds, leaving you at a hunger level of about 5 to 6. This is the optimal level at which to stop eating.
6 At level 6 you are at the point of maximum comfort and should be done eating. You feel completely satisfied; you feel neither hunger nor discomfort from overeating.
7 If you continue eating past the point of feel...
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