Elder Paisios of Mount Athos on The Joy of a Light Stomach

The variety of dishes stretches your stomach and fosters your appetite. Besides, it makes people flabby and dilutes their body. If during the meal only one dish is offered, and if it is not especially tasty, then maybe a person will not even finish it. On the other hand, if the food is tasty, one can give himself to gluttony and eat a bit more of it. However, if you see fish, soup, potatoes, cheese, fruits and candies on the table – you just want to eat all of these and you will even ask for more. Your appetite is growing. When you have eaten something, you want to eat another portion standing near. Look, a person cannot stand a simple word from his neighbor. They cannot stand this or that… But our poor stomach has to be humble and accept everything we throw in it. Do we ask the stomach whether he can stand it or not? It means that the stomach, which has no mind at all, outperforms us in virtue! It makes efforts to digest any food we eat. And if the food that we have eaten is incompatible with the other, then when it reaches the stomach they begin to “quarrel”. So, what is left to the stomach? Indigestion.

- Geronda, how can we get rid of the habit of eating too much?

- You have to restrain yourself a bit. You should not eat what you like in order not to whet your appetite because little by little your belly will grow. What is more, as Abba Macarius said, your stomach is like an evil publican: he constantly demands more and more. You take pleasure when you eat something, but you want to sleep then, you cannot keep working because of it. If you eat the food of the same kind, it will help you to restrain your appetite. 

- Geronda, if there is a lot of dishes but divided into small portions, does a person face the same problem?

- E-eh… Well, the problem is the same. The only difference is that political parties are smaller. So, this is why they cannot build up the government. When there is the variety of dishes, it is as if many political parties gathered in your stomach. One party will irritate another party, they begin to quarrel and fight with each other. Then this will cause indigestion.

The joy you get from moderate eating is larger than the joy from the tastiest food. When I was a child, I often went to forest and ate only a piece of doughnut a day. I did not even want anything else. The tastiest dishes could not match the spiritual joy that I felt then. I was happy to do so. However, many people have never experienced the joy of a light stomach. At first, they eat something tasty with pleasure. Then gluttony comes. They begin to eat a lot and fell heaviness in their stomach – especially elderly people. This is how they deprive themselves of the joy of a light stomach.

St. Paisios of Mount Athos,
“Spiritual Counsels IV: Family Life”

Source: http://pravlife.org/content/paisiy-svyatogorec-udovolstvie-legkogo-zhivota