“A Balanced Diet, in Moderation, Is the Best” (Yoga of Eating Part IV)

Geeta Iyengar, in Yoga, A Gem for Women, sums up the proper diet according to Ayurveda as follows:

“A balanced diet, in moderation, is the best.  Ayurveda says that the stomach should be filled with two parts of solid food and one part of water, and that one part of the stomach should be kept free for the movement of air.  Food which is not congenial to the system should be avoided.  Too oily, dry, spicy, and sour foodstuff are not good for the system.  A diet which is balanced, light, varied, and well cooked is ideal for health.”

In other words, to be healthy, we should eat fresh, varied, well-prepared, tasty food.  We should eat with sufficient awareness to know enough the effects of what we eat on our energy level, sleep, digestion, and ability to move and think that we know what is good for our system in small, large, or any quantities (and eat mindfully in accordance with that knowledge).  We should not eat to the point of fullness and beyond (this is a common suggestion in the West for losing weight, i.e., stop eating when you are full or right before — think getting away from the unrealistic American portion size).  Any other dietary practices should serve to find this place of moderation and enjoyment, the two real keys to health and happiness with and in eating.  Diets that take us away from balance will be hard to follow, unhealthy, and cause all sorts of other shifts in our mind-body.  What is best for you depends on your own knowledge of yourself and your environment.



  1. Jess

    Two ideas keep me in a place of mindful eating. I am a very firm believer in “all things in moderation, including moderation”. It does me no good to completely deny myself the things I want, just as it does me harm to overindulge. The other idea is taking time to enjoy what I am eating. Rushing through my meal dishonors the people who took the time and energy to grow, harvest, and prepare my food (even if it was me).

  2. Sandie

    Dear Elizabeth and everyone,

    You may know the verse chanted by Hindu monks before meals:

    Brahman is the ritual,
    Brahman is the offering,
    Brahman is he who offers
    To the fire that is Brahman.
    If a man sees Brahman
    In every action,
    He will find Brahman.

    (from the Gita translation by Christopher Isherwood and Swami Prabhavandana)

    “The fire” is hunger. When I say this silently before meals, I substitute:

    “Brahmin is *she* who offers…
    *She* will find Brahmin.”

    …and so on.

    Isn’t this lovely?

    All the best,


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