Are We Eating Right?

Chariot & Fuel

Body is a chariot. Journey called life is travelled through this chariot, body. Condition and health of the chariot is one of the parameter on which journey depends. If it has all the potential then journey can be beautiful and destination can be reached.

And this chariot gets strength by the fuel that is Food. So most importantly fuel we are providing should be of good quality, right quantity and at the right time. A balanced diet is required to run the body in proper way and for long. Similar is the case of food we are feeding to body. What we take is going to impact on body as well as mind. That is why it is said ‘What we eat we become‘. So choose wisely! But are we?

“What we eat we become”, so the question is what we want to become? Sattvic, rajasic or tamasic are the choices, choose according to that.

Sattvic, Rajasic & Tamasic – Choice is yours

What is in the diet, how it is cooked, how it is served and how it is eaten, all is of great importance. If the food is full of prana, pure, fresh, nutritious, sattvic, cooked & served with love, eaten mindfully, aware of each single bite then for sure, it will be fulfilling to stomach, satisfactory to tongue and nourishing to thoughts.

For example, rotten stale food or overeating makes us sleepy, lazy, less in action. On the other hand spicy, sour, saline food is going to make us more aggressive and will keep us in action etc. But if we eat balanced food which is easily digestible, has spices in right measure, delicious in taste and looks and moreover in right amount then that is going to make us joyous, happy and disease free.

Sattvic Food

Thus the balanced food is the Sattvic food. Easy to digest and keeps the body healthy and nourished. This is the pure food which increase the purity in body and mind, enhance energy, develop a clear vision, and calm mind. Sattvic food items include cereal, fresh fruit and vegetables, milk, butter, nuts, seeds, lentils, rice, grains and honey.

Rajasic & Tamasic Food

While stale and heavy food items are tamasic. And food items which stimulate are rajasic. These type of food items affect us creating the imbalance in body and mind. As a result few symptoms like heaviness, laziness, burning sensation, restlessness can be observed on intake of these foods. Sour, spicy or pungent foods, like onions & garlic, fish, meat, eggs, deep fries, stale food, alcohol, coffee and teas are some of tamasic and rajasic food.

Physical and Mental Health

What is Balanced Diet

The diet which lacks in nutrition will lead to various sorts of diseases like intestinal diseases, less immunity making one more prone to infections, lack of energy etc. A well balanced diet having nutrition in right measure will keep one in good physical and mental health. A diet with extra nutrition which may not be needed by the body will also give birth to many diseases, extra load to liver and intestines. So a nutritious balanced diet at right time in right amount is the right choice.

Anatomically food we eat is not going to stay in the state we have eaten. This will break, provide energy and leftover will go out of body. This energy not only forms new cells, repairs old one, and helps in other body functions but also it is going to impact our mind. Thus in addition to body our thoughts too are going to get influenced by the diet we are having.

Guidance by Yogis & Masters

In order to do achieve anything in spiritual or material world we need to have a focussed mind and disease free body. This is the reason Yogis, practitioners, meditatiors, seekers or the one who wants a happy and meaningful life needs to take care of the food. Since ages our masters and sages are giving guidelines about balanced diet.

How to stay fit, what is right food for individuals according to their goals and for many more questions we have answers in our sacred texts. Ancient yogic & ayurvedic texts, scriptures enlightens us about the right kind of food. Like

Bhagwad Gita chapter 6 says

yuktahara-viharasya yukta-cestasya karmasu
yukta-svapnavabodhasya yogo bhavati duhkha-ha

युक्ताहारविहारस्य युक्तचेष्टस्य कर्मसु |
युक्तस्वप्नावबोधस्य योगो भवति दु:खहा || १७ ||

The first word of the shloka ‘Yukta Ahara’ (balanced diet) is the answer to how should be the diet. Yuktahara = Yukta + Ahara, ‘Yukta’ means the right one, regulated, which is meant to be. Ahara means the food. Yuktahara means the food which is meant to be eaten, in short the regulated food. Regulated means neither too much not too less. Because food is for survival not for the gratification of senses.

In another words in Sutra Sthana Charaksamhita Atreya ji says

What is hitkara (favourable-beneficial) and what is ahitkara (unfavourable).

समांश्चैव शरीरधातुन प्रकृतौ स्थापयति विष्मांश्च समीकरोति त्येतद्धितं विद्धि, विपरीतमहितमिति; एतद्धिताहित लक्षणमनपवादं भवति ||

The food which keeps the balanced prakriti in the balanced form and keeps all dhatus in balance. And the food which balances the imbalanced dhatus is ‘hitkara’.

The opposite of that is ahitkara, the food which disturbs the balance of the dhatus and which keeps the imbalance of imbalanced dhatus intact (means which does not cures the imbalance of dhatus) is ahitkara.

In another sutra maharishi talks about the food which is good and should be consumed (here i am writing the vegetarian part only).

These are Rakthashali (Laal Shaali) Rice, Moong, rain water (air and water were pure in ancient times), saindha namak (rock salt), cow ghee, cow milk, til oil, ginger, grapes, khaand (खांड) (sugar made from cane). These are few food product one can eat.

Food products to be avoided.

Udad, river water in rainy days, sheep ghee, sheep milk, potatoes and more.

Vegetables to be avoided: Vegetables which became dried because of worms, air and sun’s heat, too much dried, old and which are not grown in the same season.

Fruits to be avoided: The fruits which are old, too much ripened, half-ripen, eaten by snakes, not grown in good land and in very bad state.

However we cannot fix the food and quantity for all individuals as we all are different. According to our daily routines, work styles, body constitutions we have different needs. So we cannot stay rigid on the particular diet, room for change is always there.

Likewise Hathpradeepika has given the concept of MITAHARA

सुस्निग्ध-मधुराहारश्तुचर्थांश-विवर्जितः |
भुज्यते शिव-सम्प्रीत्यै मिताहारः स उच्यते

susnighdha-madhurāhāraśchaturthāṃśa-vivarjitaḥ |
bhujyate śiva-samprītyai mitāhāraḥ sa uchyate ||

susnighdha-madhur does not literally mean oily and sweet. What it represents here the food which is fresh, has its juices intact, has pleasant taste and which is not dried. The diet which is according to ones metabolism and body type.

chaturthāṃśa-vivarjitaḥ keep the stomach 1/4 empty. In other words one should not overload the stomach. Infact at other places it is said stomach should be half filled with food, 1/4 filled with water and 1/4 with air. Hence giving space to food for churning properly.

bhujyate śiva-samprītyai eat as an offering to please shiva. Offer the food to God first and eat it as the prasad (the food given by god). Our sacred texts says body is temple and God (Lord Shiva) resides in this temple. So be in the feeling that the food is being offered to the God residing in the body called temple. We always offer good and beautiful things to those we love.Be in that state, offer moderate, right, sattvic and delicious food. And as a result of prasad this body and mind will be strengthened, pure and healthy.

This is mitahara in other words ‘the balanced diet’.

In another shloka it says what should a yogi eat and what not

सौवीर-तैल-तिल-सर्ष्हप-मद्य-मत्स्यान |
पिण्याक-हिङ्गु-लशुनाद्यमपथ्यमाहुः ||

sauvīra-taila-tila-sarṣhapa-madya-matsyān |
piṇyāka-hingghu-laśunādyamapathyamāhuḥ ||

Furthermore another verse says bitter, sour, saltish, hot, green vegetables, fermented, oily, mixed with til seed, rape seed, intoxicating liquors, fish, meat, curds, chhaasa pulses, plums, oil-cake, asafœtida (hînga), garlic, onion, etc., should not be eaten.

भोजनमहितं विद्यात्पुनरस्योष्ह्णी-कॄतं रूक्ष्हम |
अतिलवणमम्ल-युक्तं कदशन-शाकोत्कं वर्ज्यम ||

bhojanamahitaṃ vidyātpunarasyoṣhṇī-kṝtaṃ rūkṣham |
atilavaṇamamla-yuktaṃ kadaśana-śākotkaṃ varjyam ||

In addition again and again heated food, dry, having too much salt, sour, minor grains, and vegetables that cause burning sensation, should not be eaten. Fire, women, travelling, etc., should be avoided.

कष्हीराज्य-खण्ड-नवनीत-सिद्धा-मधूनि |
मुद्गादि-दिव्यमुदकं छ यमीन्द्र-पथ्यम || ६५ ||

kṣhīrājya-khaṇḍa-navanīta-siddhā-madhūni |
mudghādi-divyamudakaṃ cha yamīndra-pathyam || 65 ||

Besides wheat, rice, barley, shâstik (a kind of rice), good corns, milk, ghee, sugar, butter, sugarcandy, honey, dried ginger, Parwal (a vegetable) the five vegetables, moong, pure water, these are very beneficial to those who practise Yoga.

A Yogî should eat tonics (things giving strength), well sweetened, greasy (made with ghee), milk, butter, etc., which may increase humors of the body, according to his desire.

What goes wrong in general

  • Wrong eating habits
  • Eating when not hungry
  • At the wrong time of the day
  • Eating wrong food combinations
  • Overeating
  • Too much fasting
  • Eating hurriedly
  • Emotional eating
  • Eating food one cannot digest
  • Eating when constipated
  • Drinking cold or chilled water, especially during meal
  • Too much water or no water at all during a meal
  • Preserved, frozen and stale food
  • Too much of any kind of food… to much spices, salts and sour items
  • Eating in wrong posture
  • Wrong sleep patterns
  • Improper Sleep

Above mentioned reasons could lead to many health issues yet we can correct them easily just by being more disciplined and aware. Listen to the body and eat accordingly. Eat mindfully, and stay fit !!!

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