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Eat according to the needs of your body

Watching some people, it would seem that they live to eat, that it is their greatest pleasure – isn’t it strange! Some even say, “Eat, drink and make merry, what else is there in life?” Very poor philosophy indeed! The body is made from stuff that comes from the five basic elements (ether, air, fire, water and earth). In order to have a sound body and thus a good health, those elements should continue to be given to the body in the appropriate quantity.

Our body and mind perform a wide range of activities. These, however, can be hampered if we do not take the right type of food at the right time and in the required amount. But it seems obvious that most people overlook this basic fact and have improper or unbalanced diet. The main reason is that they have made eating a habit. How this has come about is very simple. People derive much pleasure from food or by eating. The pleasure is sensual, that is, it is a reaction of the food with the sense of taste and that reaction soothes the brain and the mind in a certain way. Since the mind is always seeking bliss and also since bliss is its essence, it gets stuck to eating, which becomes a great source of pleasure. Indeed, well-prepared food is very appealing and tasty.

Being mostly unconscious, we get carried away by the pleasure we derive from food and thus eating becomes a habit that inflames the senses and the mind, and we end up asking for more. We look for food mostly for their taste and less for their nutritional value. Consequently, we disturb the harmony of the body, which is so refined and delicate. A very strange fact is that, even in the third millennium, many people consider it very natural to eat mainly for the pleasure of the palate.

Human beings are supposed to be more intelligent as compared to animals, yet the latter do not have the serious problem we have with regards to bad eating habits. Most of us know what is good and what is bad for our body, yet we are as if drawn by an irresistible force to keep consuming things that are harmful to our body. Who can deny that cigarette is a poison to our health and that much alcohol, fat and so on is not good for our body? Yet, we do not refrain from them. Why? There is carelessness, ignorance, habit and the overwhelming desire for pleasure. Right, the key word here is pleasure! But is it really pleasure or is it an illusion that leads to a nightmarish life?

Food is not the problem, contrary to what some people believe. They say rice is very bad for the tummy, and oil is a great poison for the heart. How can that be? Of course, if we consume too much of anything, it becomes harmful to our health. Hence the problem lies within us. There is absolutely nothing wrong in seeking for pleasure. It is very legitimate and natural. One of the four basic natural aims of life is kama (pleasure) and food is one of the most pleasurable things after sex. The trouble is that we are not conscious enough to avoid making a habit of it. Just like everything else, pleasure too should have its limit. Of course, here I am referring to pleasure that we derive through our senses while performing certain activities. My proposal is that we increase our awareness and the rest will come by itself. That applies to all habits and evils arising from unconsciousness. A little more awareness will do the work.

Presently, we are like slaves, nay, we are slaves! We need to become masters and it is only when we are awakened that we can become a master, not before. It is an irony that man’s real nature – his soul – is paramanand (supreme bliss), yet he seeks for pleasure from a utilitarian activity like eating. Eat according to your needs, not according to your sense of taste. The way to it is simple: be more alert whenever the desire for eating for things that could be harmful to your body arises.