“To eat is necessity but to eat INTELLIGENTLY is an art”
“And he knew that food was Brahman. From food all beings are born. By food they live and into food they return”. – Upanishad 3.2
Manu, Jesus and Buddha exhorted the people to refrain from using liquors, intoxicants and drugs as these are deleterious in their effects. No spiritual progress is possible without abandoning them.
Pythagoras seems to bewail when he says: “Beware, O mortals, of defiling your bodies with sinful food. There are cereals, there are fruits bending their branches down by their weight, and luxurious grapes on the vines. There are sweet vegetables and herbs which the fire can render palatable and mellow. Nor are you denied milk, nor honey, fragrance of the aroma of the thyme flower. The bountiful earth offers you an abundance of pure food and provides for meals obtainable without slaughter and bloodshed.”
Yoga diet principles play an important part in getting full benefits from your yoga practice. Why do sportsmen and pregnant women need special food? Our body requires food for getting energy and this energy sustains life. Food is what builds up our body, we are what we eat. Type of food and its quality affects your physical as well as mental health.
Diet is of three kinds :
Live a natural simple life. Take simple food that is wholly agreeable to your system. You should have your own menu to suit your constitution. You are yourself the best judge to select a Sattvic diet. In the matter of food and drink you will do well to eat and drink as a master. You should not have the least craving for any particular diet. You should not become a slave to this food or that food. Simple, natural, non-stimulating, tissue-building, energy-producing, non-alcoholic food and drink will keep the mind calm and pure and will help the student of Yoga in his practices and in the attainment of the goal of life.
Vegetarian diet has been acclaimed to be most conducive to spiritual and psychic advancement. It has been found that meat augments animal passion and decreases intellectual capacity. While it is true that meat-eating countries are physically active and strong, the same cannot be said of their spiritual attainments. Meat is not at all necessary for the keeping up of perfect health, rigour and vitality. On the contrary, it is highly deleterious to health. It brings in its train a host of ailments such as tape-worm, albuminuria and other diseases of the kidneys. Killing of animals for food is a great sin. Instead of killing the egoism and the idea of “mine-ness,” ignorant people kill innocent animals under pretext of sacrifice to goddess, but in reality it is meant to please their own tongue or palate. What inhuman horrible crimes are being committed in the name of God and Religion! Ahimsa (non-injuring) is the first virtue that a spiritual aspirant should try to possess. You should have reverence for life. Lord Jesus says: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” Mahavira shouted in a trumpet-like voice: “Regard every living being as thyself and harm no one.” The Law of Karma is inexorable, unrelenting, immutable. The pain you inflict upon another will surely rebound upon you and the happiness you radiate will come back to you adding to your happiness. He who knows this Law will not hurt anybody.
TABLE SHOWING SATTVIC, RAJASIC AND TAMASIC ARTICLES OF DIET
|Cow’s milk, Cream, Cheese,Butter, Curd, Ghee, Sweet fruits, Apples, Bananas, Grapes, Papaya, Pomegranates, Mangoes, Oranges, Pears, Pineapples, Guavas, Figs, Vegetables, Coconut, Brinjals, Potatoes, Cabbages, Spinach, Tomatoes.
||Cucumber, Pumpkin, Cauliflower, Lady’s finger, Peaches, Almonds, Pistachios, Raisins, Wheat, Red rice, Unpolished rice, Barley, Oat-meal, Dried peas, Dates, Sugar-candy, Green gram, Bengal gram, Green pulse, Groundnut, Cereals, Dried ginger, Myrobalan, Lemon, Honey, Charu.
||Fish, Eggs, Meat, Salt, Chillies, Chutney, Asafoetida, Pickles, Tamarind, Mustard, Sour things, Hot things, Tea, Coffee, Cocoa, Ovaltine, White sugar, Carrots, Turnips, Spices.
||Beef, Pork, Wine, Onions,Garlic, Tobacco, Rotten things, Stale things, Unclean things, Twice cooked things, All intoxicants, All liquors, All drugs.
Modern fast food items like hamburgers, pizzas, jams, jellies, soft drinks, ice creams etc. have gained control over our eating patterns and are the main cause of obesity we see all around. These fast foods are rich source of sugar, oils and preservatives all of which are not good for our health. People attracted by various types of fast food which are very low in nutrition. In addition, these foods tax our digestive system and body has to do extra work for digestion and elimination of such food. Everyday we are faced with the choice of selecting our food and we must prefer nutritious food rather than going for the taste.
Look Towards Nature
Yoga diet philosophy emphasises on the natural sources of nutrition. Nature has provided us several nutritious edible foods in their natural form like whole grains, seasonal fruits, vegetables, milk, honey and dry fruits.
More people fall sick due to overeating or wrong dietary habits as compared to people who get sick due to non availability of food. Observe moderation in quantity of food we eat. People who keep on over eating without proper understanding of the principles of eating are bound to harm themselves physically and mentally. One golden rule to avoid overeating is, not to have any type of snacks between your meals.
Balanced diet is essential requirement of good health. A balanced diet should include plenty of salads, fresh vegetables, fresh fruits, milk and raw nuts. Include these items in your existing dietary choices.
All vegetables eaten raw constitute salad. Fresh cucumber, tomato, carrots, beetroot, lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower etc are used for preparing salad. Salad should be cut into small pieces with suitable dressing of you choice. Ideally salad should form first course of your lunch and dinner. Eat plenty of salad half an hour prior to your meals in case you want to reduce your food intake.
Quantity Of Food
As a general rule, fill only 50% of your stomach with food, 25% of your stomach for water and keep 25% of your stomach empty. If your stomach is overstuffed, it is not properly digested. You will feel uncomfortable and your body is forced to digest extra food and also work for eliminating it. By overeating, your abdominal system is strained and body becomes sluggish. Finally, it leads to gaining of extra weight. Eat only when you feel hungry and eliminate any snacks in between the meals.
Alcoholic drinks are nutrient thieves; they steal and destroy nutrients available in your system. Alcoholic drinks weaken the individual physically and mentally, if used without restraint. For yoga practitioners, it is best to avoid alcoholic drinks.
Avoid excessive use of spices and salt. Too much of seasoning of food is also not recommended.
Drink 10 to 12 glasses of water everyday. Drink water half an hour before meals. Avoid drinking water with food. Drinking of one or two glasses of water when you wake up is ideal for health.
Coffee and Tea
It is ideal if you can avoid tea and coffee completely. Otherwise limit your tea or coffee intake to 2 cups per day. Excess of tea and coffee leads to constipation, insomnia and nervousness in addition to extra calories each cup of tea or coffee pumps into our bodies.
Method of Eating
Eat slowly and chew your food properly. Eating fast does not allow the time for satiating signals to reach your brain from your abdomen resulting in overeating. By chewing the food properly, saliva can better mix with food and make it easily digestible. Body is able to make full use of food you eat and helps you to maintain better health. Principles of yoga diet are time tested and very easy to follow. To lead a healthy life one has to establish a dietary pattern that will sustain good health. Yoga and diet are essential components of good health and happiness. Eat to live and not live to eat.
Foods to Avoid or Reduce When Following a Yogic Diet
1. Meat and fish of all types, including eggs
2. Processed and/or artificial foods, junk food, artificial sweeteners, soda
3. Animal fats, margarine
4. Fried foods
5. Canned foods, except naturally canned tomatoes and fruit
6. White flour, white sugar
7. Garlic, onions, spicy foods
8. Stale or overly cooked foods
9. Microwaved foods
10. Alcohol, tobacco, stimulants
11. Foods that are genetically engineered
12. Foods that are eaten in a rush or in a disturbed environment