Yoga Diet: This is the second subsection of the Yogic Basic Principles chapter. When we talk of the ‘Yoga diet, we mean nourishing, balanced, and simple food.
Effects of a Simple Diet: Such a diet will always keep your body healthy and the mind will also remain fresh at all times. Moreover, simple, balanced, and nourishing food will not be having any harmful effects on your sentiments as the spicy or intoxicating items.
If you dedicatedly practice the yogic asanas and the Pranayama postures, you will definitely experience increased appetite. So, you will have to consume sufficient nutritive food.
The Determining Factors: Of course, you are the best person to choose what to eat and what to avoid. The factors determining the quantity and quality of food you will have to consume daily are your physical stature, age, size, habits, weight, taste, rate of metabolism, climate, season, availability, resources, lifestyle, occupation, social custom, and cooking facilities.
However, as you advance in age you must adjust the quantity and type of food you are consuming. The other two important factors determining the type and quantity of the food you have are the existing circumstances and above all your medical history.
This chapter is divided into two sub-sections: Food Selection and Moderation.
(i) Food Selection “Yoga Diet”
Here are some broad outlines to select the most ideal food.
The first thing to know is that there is nothing called a ‘total or ideal diet’. Your choice of food will be determined by a varied set of determining factors like your way of life, personal preferences, quality, quantity, and time you have at your disposal.
What matters is how much you can digest and assimilate into your body and not the amount or quantity of the food.
The diet should be able to replace the tissues, build up resistance against ailments and perform vital functions including physical activities.
However, a balanced diet includes adequate and proper portions of proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, roughage, minerals, and fats.
Nutritious, energizing, body-building, and wholesome but simple food should be consumed regularly. They are easily absorbed by the body and are of high quality.
Moreover, such food is non-stimulating.
Your dietary roster must include varied natural items containing all these essential body-sustaining and building items.
The best option is to opt for Lacto-vegetarian food. Ensure that each meal has a varied combination of these items. The lacto-vegetarian menu includes the following items.
Germinated grams, sweet curd, sweet buttermilk, butter, ghee, fresh and green vegetables, tubers, roots, nuts, vegetable oil, oilseeds, gram flour, wheat, legumes, pulses, cereals, and whole-grain cereals.
Go for fruits, vegetables and cereals.
Include in your diet an abundance of roughage (natural fibres). Fibre is easily digestible. Besides roughage arrests and cures constipation.
- Natural food should be preferred to processed ones.
- Avoid chocolates and sweets.
- Sparingly have fried and spicy items.
- Similar is the case with beverages that contain caffeine.
- Don’t overcook. You should cook lightly and prepare the items in a simple manner. Actually, cooked items should be prepared in such a way that they resemble closest their natural states and up to that point when your body will be able to digest them easily.
- Boiled items are always nourishing.
- Steamed food plus buttermilk and vegetables are always recommended.
- If your constitution allows, have milk with honey. Besides being a nutritious and pleasant combination, it is quite nourishing too. But, if you are a diabetic or are suffering from hypertension or high blood pressure don’t have this concoction!
- Unfermented fruit juice is a healthy drink.
- Always have seasonal fruits especially those that ripen on their trees.
(ii) Moderation “Yoga Diet”
- A yogi never eats his fill. Have a little appetite left after finishing the meal.
- Eat enough. Don’t overeat or take too few meals.
- Don’t overload your tummy with food.
- Just fill half of the stomach with solid food. The other one-fourth must be loaded with watery substances. And the remaining one-fourth of the stomach should be kept empty for air to circulate.
- Drink as much water as you can after meals but only after an hour or two hours.
- Overeating means having food more than your body allows. It is not the quantity.
- Hence as you gain in age your body would be requiring lesser amount of food. This is because your metabolism and growth ceases.
- Your eating schedule should be determined by your natural hunger.
- This important eating schedule must never be determined by your palate, habit or the clock.
- Appetite is an unnatural mental condition whereas hunger is a body process. Hence hunger should be addressed. Hunger is the best and the most determining sauce.
- Always make it a habit to have meals happily and moderately
- Adopt a positive outlook prior to consuming anything.
- Thank the Almighty for your meal.
- Never have any pre-conceived notion about the diet.
- Don’t take food more than it is required.
- Consume only that much of food which you will be able to digest and therefore have no problems in eliminating the next morning as waste materials.
- The meal should give you mental and therefore psychological satisfaction and a feeling of fullness besides.
Here are two other adjunct sub-sections: ‘Regularity’ & ‘What Not to do…’
- Always be regular and punctual in the food habits.
- Make it a habit that you take the proper food in proper quantity at the proper time.
- Don’t eat irregularly or too often.
- Space out your meals over the day.
- Since your stomach should not remain empty for long time, avoid long intervals between meals.
- For most people two square meals during the day suffice.
- Don’t have chocolates, snacks or nibble nuts between the main meals.
- Else the digestion process of the food consumed will be hindered and it may even lead loss of appetite.
- Eat early in the night.
- Avoid eating just before hitting the bed or late in the night.
- Remember that there should be an interval of at least two hours between the last sleep and sleep.
- Always go to sleep on a light tummy.
- Bit never sleep on an empty stomach.
What NOT to do…
- Don’t ever use aluminum utensils for cooking.
- Refrigerator food should be used sparingly.
- Refined, seasoned or ‘enriched’ food items must not be taken. They tend to upset the metabolic pace of your system.
- Always choose natural alternatives instead.
- Never have food that is artificially flavoured or coloured.
- Avoid over-processed, under-cooked, instant, discarded, foul-smelling, decomposed, stale, putrid, insipid, and artificially dried dry food items.
- Eschew food that is pungent, salty, sour, acidic or bitter.
- Avoid packaged fumigated, frozen, bottled, canned or tinned food.
- You should not cook food too long or the food will lose its nutritive value.
- Over indulgence in your favorite food items tends to block the body’s capacity to have other nutrients.
- It is always advisable to go for a balanced and varied diet.
- Remember that the palate and the body always need changes in the diet.
- Go for variety in the daily menu keeping in view your lifestyle, the climatic conditions and the customs.
- If you dislike any food items, have it as less as possible. However if it is nutritious do include it in the menu.
- Avoid food items that do not suit your system or if it is hard to digest.
- Similarly, stay away from foods that tend to constipate, or produce wind in the intestines and the stomach.
- Food titillating the taste buds should not be consumed. They include condiments, fancy desserts and hot pickles.
- So abstain from carbonated drinks, candies, chocolates and fad diets.
- You must drastically reduce intake of salt, sugar, fat, synthetic items and chilies.
- Food loses value if it is reheated.
- Unbalanced food combinations should not be included in the menu.
- Fried and greasy food are harmful for the liver.
- Never have food handled or prepared unhygienically
Habits one must do away with…
- Once you are at the dining table, practice self-restraint. Forcefully stay away from any special drink or food item.
- Abstain from having meals if you are emotionally distressed.
- Else you may start having tummy problems due to increased gastric secretions as you are mind is in turmoil.
- Don’t read or chat while eating.
- Eating is an art. Have it in a relaxed mood and when you are hungry. You will relish the meal. Have your meals silently, leisurely and heartily.
- Wait till the previously consumed food is digested.
- There should be a minimum of fours hours gap between two heavy meals or between the times you have any solid food.
- After finishing a heavy lunch, practice Vajrasana for about 15 minutes. The entire energies should be diverted to the digestion of the consumed food items and assimilation of the nutrition by the body.
- It is advisable to stroll for a few minutes after supper. It is beneficial for the body, settles down the food and also induces sound sleep.
- Never slump in a chair or hit the bed immediately after having any meal. Such actions distend (bloats) the stomach.
- Change food habits very cautiously.
- Sudden changes in food habits disturb the tummy and also propel psychological hurdles.
- If you must change any regular food habit, precede it with a short fasting session.
- Never watch the TV while having meals.
- When you have meals, concentrate on eating. This is ideal for digestion.
- Don’t eat standing.
- If you are doing any strenuous exercise or work, rest for some time before consuming anything. Never have anything immediately before or after any hard work.
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