There are multitudes of diets suggested by fitness experts everywhere, but not all of them fall under one-size-fits-all category. However, yogic diet is one such diet that help in attaining the balance of nutrition content in the body. Also, ensuring the proper functions of each organ of the body.
For an agile mind and a healthy body, it is essential to have a well-planned healthy diet. That’s not all. Having the right diet also keeps your emotions in check. So, if you have been feeling jittery and anxious most of the times your food is also one of the factors to blame.
Yoga diet focuses on three “Gunas”, transliterated as “Qualities” of humans and everything else present in nature. These three Gunas are:
- Sattva, meaning “pureness and goodness”
- Rajas meaning “passion or confusion”
- Tama, meaning “ destructive or disorderly”
A yogic diet mostly consists of raw foods like fruits and vegetables. It is devoid of using any form of oil to fry foods. Since yoga follows the path of “Ahimsa” (path of nonviolence), it discourages the killing and eating of meat.
Furthermore, yoga believes that the human body consists of “Agni” (Fire), which helps in breaking down food to make it easily digestible. However, if the food consumed on daily basis is toxic or heavy, then after a while this fire burns out and causes instability in the body’s function. Thereby, resulting in problems like illnesses, obesity, and mental instability.
Yogic diet plan categorizes diets into three categories – Sattvic, Rajasic and Tamasic. Below is an elaborate description to understand these three types of yogic diet.
Foods in their purest form or those which require the least amount of processing for consumption fall under this category. These foods are naturally grown and even if cooked, use the most minimal amounts of additives for enhancing the taste. Sattvic foods are usually vegetarian and free from chemicals and stimulants. It is light, nourishing, unctuous, sweet and tasty.
Sattvic Food List
- Whole wheat, grains, and legumes
- Fresh raw vegetables and fruits
- Sprouts and nuts
- Fresh milk and unprocessed fats like homemade ghee and butter
- The spices commonly used in sattvic cooking are ginger, turmeric, coriander, cinnamon, cardamom and fennel (saunf). These spices do not heat the body. Instead, these balance the acid level in body and help internal organs to function properly.
Effects of Sattvic Foods
- Increases the energy of your mind and produces serenity, cheerfulness and mental clarity.
- Better decision-making abilities
- Allows positivity in life and let go of all negative thoughts, feelings, and action.
- Person will become more socially active. Better relationships with family and friends.
- Fewer chances of falling ill or getting into any type of serious medical conditions.
- Person will become spiritually aware and clear-minded.
This food category is named after the lavish feast that kings and royalty were served in olden times. These foods are salty, bitter, pungent, sour, hot and dry. Rajasic foods are high calorie and heavy foods that cannot be easily broken down by the digestive system. You can say that other two types of foods are not as tempting to the taste-buds as Rajasic foods.
Rajasic Food List
- Non-vegetarian foods like meat, chicken and fish.
- All whole dals and pulses
- Hot spices like pepper and chillies.
- All vegetables (including garlic and onion)
- Fried foods, alcohol, caffeinated and carbonated drinks, and tobacco.
- Acidic Foods like fermented bread, pickles, preserved foods, sausages and other similar products
Effects of Rajasic Foods
- Created feeling of greed, jealousy, sensuality, sexuality, anger, fantasies, delusion and irreligious feelings.
- Causes weight gain and even obesity.
- Leads to stomach ulcers, acidity, and gas problems.
- Causes emotional imbalance, leading to depression, anxiety, ADHD, and other mental issues.
Tamasic diet is the worst type of yogic diet for the human body. As the name suggests, these foods generate negative effects and the source of destructive behavior in human beings like anger, envy, jealousy, and the likes. It includes food items that are not fresh, processed, overcooked and stale. All sweet, spicy, salty and fatty foods come under tamasic diet.
Tamasic Food List
- Food items generating heat – Ginger, garlic, onion and chillies.
- Fried foods – Chips and french fries
- Food made from refined floor – Pastries, burgers, pizzas, chocolates and naan.
- Non-vegetarian food – Egg, meat, becan and fish.
- Preserved and canned food – Pickles and jam.
- Sweet Food – Ice creams, puddings and sweets
- Caffeinated and carbonated drinks – Coffee, tea, coca cola, soda.
Effects of Tamasic Food
- Causes intense mood swings, insecurity, uncontrollable desires and cravings.
- Tamasic personality has problems in dealing with people. They tend to be self-centered and having little regard for other’s welfare.
- It brings stagnation leading to aging and degeneration of health.
- Leads to weak nervous system and weak heart
Benefits of Sattvic Yogic Diet
Looking at this classification of yogic diet it can be clearly understood that Sattvic diet is the most preferred and recommended type of diet amongst the three. Though most people refrain from it as it promotes vegetarianism, which most believe is devoid of proteins that are largely found in meat.
Nevertheless, people forget that protein found in dead meat contains toxins and uric acid, which is hard for the stomach to digest. While only some amount is broken down, a large part of it is stored in body areas like joints and body tissue, later resulting in chronic diseases like diabetes type 1, cancer, or heart problems.
Sattvic yoga diet provides protein without all these complications by consumption of legumes, nuts, leafy vegetables, and dairy products. Additionally, these items have no toxins and can be easily digested since their only residue is cellulose, which is easy for digestive system to break.
The human body requires food which should be digested within 18 hours. All vegetarian foods are easily digestible with 10-15 hours. Meat takes approximately three days to digest. This is the main reason why most non-vegetarians suffer from indigestion or constipation problems. It also leads to blockage of the arteries and quick aging.
In every yoga teacher training in Rishikesh, great emphasis has been given to follow a proper yogic diet. A yogic diet is pure and aims to detoxify the human body of any impending impurities that may have layered up from years of wrong eating. It works to revive the Agni (fire) present in the digestive system. Power of Agni may have diminished down the years in attempts of breaking down heavy and resistant food items.
The elaborate descriptions mentioned above are guidelines for you to understand yogic diet and its impact on health. It explains things you might be lacking in your dietary requirements, which are making you act the way you are every day.
Yogic diet doesn’t ask you to make drastic changes all at once, but to rather implement them slowly one step at a time. You have to be kind and gentle in your dealings with your body, both inside and out. So, the last word of advice is to watch what you eat, eat healthy, and live life with no regrets.