Are you what you eat…. or is it the other way round? Whatever it be, there is no denying that food habit plays the most important part in the constitution of our body. Ancient Yogic texts as well as modern research have time and again confirmed the fact that food governs mind and thoughts. A healthy food habit keeps one physically fit and mentally alert.
Yogic texts and the Bhagwad Gita classify food into three groups, Sattvik, rajasik and tamasic. It’s not just the food; even a person’s life is governed by these three qualities – sattva, rajas and tamas. Of these, tamas is the principle of inertia; rajas, the principle of mobility; and sattva, the principle of knowledge.
An average person’s temperament depends on the predominance of one or other of these qualities or energy states. When ‘tamas’ predominates indolence and stupor follow and one is stiff, listless and unyielding; when rajas predominates one is active, restless and impatient and when sattva predominates one is peaceful - the mind is clear, unruffled and full of serene thoughts. During the course of the day, each one of us shifts through various moods under the influence of these 3 qualities. These fluctuating moods as we make a transition from one energy state to the other often throws us out of alignment. How then do we control this inner turbulence? The answer is - Yoga, Pranayam and a wholesome diet which will help us to combat the pressures and disturbances of life with equanimity.
Do we then eat food according to our temperaments? Don’t know for sure. But let’s just glance through the classification of sattvik, rajasic and tamasic foods.
Sattvik foods are completely natural and wholesome. It includes fruits and vegetables in their natural form. Grains, legumes, dairy products, fresh herbs, honey etc. This kind of diet brings calmness and purity to the mind and is easily digestible. It increases endurance and vigor.
Rajasik foods are mostly stimulating on nature. It includes coffee, tea, onion, garlic, excessively hot or pungent food etc. They arouse animal passions and bring in restlessness in nature. They may bring in a sense of over activeness also.
Tamasik foods are best avoided in a yogic diet. It includes meat, eggs, alcohol, pickles, and other rotten or putrefied food. Tamasik diet makes a person dull and lethargic. Chronic ailments and depression follow. Overeating is also considered tamasik.
A yoga practitioner can look at having three servings of carbohydrate and proteins daily. This would mean a large breakfast constituting of cereals and natural foods. A moderate lunch consisting of carbohydrate, protein and roughage. A light and early dinner is a must. Roughage comes from vegetables and salad. Keep tea, coffee to a minimum and minimally sugared.
Tamasik foods must be consumed sparingly and if possible eliminate it from the diet. Salad is a must and may be consumed as much as you wish. Restrict salt intake. Fatty foods should be kept to a minimum for all. Drink at least 8-10 glasses of water daily.
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