Updated: Oct 6
A Yogic diet is a balanced diet that has huge influence not only over our physical well being , but also over our thoughts, and ultimately, over our emotional and spiritual well being. This diet can also be called lacto-vegetarian, which means it is made up of non-animal foods, other than dairy and honey. With continued awareness about the body through yoga, you may find that vegetarian foods become a natural choice for your routine. It will help you maintain that same light and energized feeling that you get through yoga.
Categories of a Yogic Diet
In yogic literature, food is separated into 3 categories, which is also known as Three Gunas in yogic diet. The beneficial ones are grouped under Sattvic(pure). The Sattvic foods form an ideal diet, keeping the body nourished while being easy to digest. They create new energy, clarity and a calm mind. Impure foods can upset our physical and emotional balance. They are grouped under Tamasic(stale) and Rajasic(stimulating). These are foods that can cause a change in mental state or physical body. Excess of any of these foods can cause restlessness, agitation, indigestion and a distracted mind. However, some items may be used in small amounts to maintain a correct balance.
Why choose a Sattvic Diet
Modern science tells us that you can gain all the nutrients you need from a lacto-vegetarian diet, without needing supplements as long as proper quantities are consumed. It also makes clear the harm in eating Tamasic/Rajasic style foods. We have attempted to list some below.
Onion - Contains low amounts of vitamins and minerals that you can get in much greater amounts from various sattvic sources like leafy vegetables and seeds. Also contains allium, a sulfenic acid that converts to sulfur in the human body and harms many of the good and bad bacteria in the gut. It cannot distinguish between the two.
Garlic - Garlic is a nutritional powerhouse when consumed at 100 gm/daily. But that is around 30 cloves per day! It also contains allium in much larger proportion than onions and has been known to affect GERD(gastrointestinal reflux disease). The bad outweighs the good on a general diet if a large amount is consumed daily. However, garlic is used by Ayurveda as a medicine because of its potent anti bacterial properties.
Fish - Contains good amounts of phosphorus and protein. A basic 75 gm serving contains 19 gm of protein and 368 mg of phosphorus. A full cup of cooked lentils will give you 14 gm of protein and 264 mg of phosphorus. Fish are also famously known to contain Omega 3 fatty acids. A 75 gm serving size of fish has about 2 mg(EPA+DHA) of omega-3 acids. EPA and DHA are 2 types of omega-3 which are readily usable. Another kind is ALA which must be converted by the body to be usable. Most plant based sources of omega-3 are ALA, however there are numerous such sources like chia seeds, hemp seeds, flaxseeds and if you can get edible seaweed then you can get plant based EPA and DHA right there.
Meat - Provides a great source of proteins and vitamin B12. A sattvic diet that is rich in legumes, lentils and milk will provide these nutrients to the body without the increased risk of various cancers that are associated with high concentrations of meat in diets.
Eggs - Eggs have a combination of saturated and unsaturated fats inside. They also have high concentrations of Riboflavin and vitamin A and vitamin B12. Dairy products, soy and vegetable/nut oils will supply all of these nutrients in sufficient quantities.
Alcohol - There are no nutrients in alcohol.
Coffee/Tea - Though loaded with antioxidants, both coffee and tea contain caffeine, which can be harmful if the intake is not controlled. The body has no nutritional need for caffeine.
Overly Spicy Foods - Spices are often powerful concentrations of natural ingredients. If used thoughtlessly, they can cause active harm to the human body. They also have tight cooking tolerances and can be damaged easily making them useless if not even more harmful. Mild spices for flavoring is okay and a lot of spices that are made from leaves are actually sattvic in nature. However, care must be taken when using spices(including sugar and salt).
HOW TO START
Eat as many fresh fruits and vegetables as possible. Cooking destroys much needed nutrients so try to eat these raw as much as possible. Whole grain products are a must for the fiber they contain, that keeps our metabolism healthy. Drink plenty of water. There is nothing better to flush impurities from your body. Respect the food you eat. Take your time and enjoy the meal. Even if you're alone put out the good cutlery. Treat yourself as you would a guest.
We have attempted to show why a Sattvic diet is the right diet to follow. Since, they are too many ways to cover here we will link a separate article on how to cook Sattvic here.
Many believe that is it difficult to switch to a yogic diet. The thing to remember is that it is a gradual process like all of yoga. Let your taste buds slowly lose the taste for red meat by slowly cutting down. Make the process so gradual you don't even notice it, then do the same for poultry and and then fish. Eating the right kind of food is essential to maintaining a healthy balance. A true yogic diet may seem challenging and strict. Not everyone wants to follow all the rules, but even applying a few of these suggestions to your diet will enhance your well-being. Even dedicated yoga practice will show limited improvement with an improper diet.
Eat sattvic diet, you will control mind..eat tamsic and rajsic diet, mind will ruin you..