The Yoga Diet (con’t)
What to Do About All This?
Many students feel overwhelmed when I present this full spectrum of the yogic approach to food to them, and understandably so, as quite often it is in complete contrast with all the food habits which they have cultivated throughout their entire lives. Hence, some may feel that all this is simply too much to ask, or too big a change to make.
It’s true that when it comes to food, we are entering an area where we have our greatest attachments, and mere logic and reason alone stands little hope of influence on the average person. Many of you simply cannot imagine being a person who eats like a yogi.
You simply don’t want to do it!
If meat is a staple of your diet; if you regularly drink alcohol; eat decadent deserts and snacks; often take meals in crowded places amidst vibrant social and political settings; eat late and at erratic times; and often feast well beyond the point of physical necessity… then it would be foolish to think that tomorrow you would want to start eating exactly as I have outlined here…
…. or that it would even be possible for you to do so! Even if you succeeded for a day, how much longer would this new resolve really last?
I have given you many points of change for the better in this essay. Taken individually, you can hopefully see the logical value in each of them. Some of you may have the strength of will to change everything, just like that! – the same as the rare chain-smoker who goes ‘cold turkey’ one day and never looks back.
But for most, a gradual approach is the only way. When beneficial feelings, increased health and vibrancy, calmness and harmony start to encroach into your being from certain changes in eating habits, then this will be the fuel to stimulate further change.
It is like this throughout all of what we endeavour to do in yoga. A step-by-step approach ultimately takes one to a place that they could not fathom reaching from the start.
… Lasting change happens gradually, step by step.
So if you eat meat daily, then don’t stop eating meat. Just stop eating meat ‘daily’. Try to eat it 3 or 4 times a week; then when this becomes habit, cut back to once or twice a week, and so on and so on, until meat no longer become an essential craving in the diet and you can quite easily drop it all together if you like.
Likewise for all the other directives outlined in this article…
If you drink alcohol daily, lessen the amount. If you crave junk food and sweets… cut back.
Along with each reduction of rajasic and tamasic foods and habits, inject sattva – enlivening, lightening, fresh and wholesome foods, and nurturing, loving and divine qualities into the entire dining experience…
… and slowly, over time, you’ll notice profound transformations in your life that you may never have thought could be related to, or even associated with the habit of eating.
The Yoga Diet Elevates Your State of Mind
If you are experiencing lower, depressed agitated or distracted states of mind, remember that the food you eat can have a definite and sometimes even immediate affect on how you feel.
Experiment with eliminating foods that depress and agitate the mind, and eat more of the sattvic foods that lighten, energize and elevate the consciousness.
Unfortunately, I cannot teach you all there is to know about vegetarianism abd the yogic diet here in this short essay, but the following provides some very broad, but basic essential for the yoga diet:
Some Recommendations for a Sattvic Yoga Diet
- Try to each fresh, leafy greens in great quantity. These should be included in every meal, and are best eaten at the end of the meal. These vegetables contain many essential mineral for metabolism such as iron, potassium, magnesium, zinc, calcium and chromium. A yoga diets high in these foods forms a foundation for combating disease.
- Vegetables that grow beneath the ground should be used sparingly, with the exception of carrots.
- All fruits and vegetables should be taken fresh whenever possible. They are packed with nutrients, providing vitamin C, beta-carotene, riboflavin and other vitamins, iron, calcium and fibre. Use tomatoes and over-ripe bananas sparingly.
- Avoid canned or preserved foods.
- The yoga diet includes a regular variety of nuts. These, however, should be boiled or steamed, and not fried or roasted.
- Legumes, which is another name for beans, peas and lentils, are all good sources of fibre, protein, iron, calcium, zinc and B vitamins.
- Soymilk and soya products are an excellent source of B vitamins and calcium and should be included in the daily yoga diet.
- Make plentiful use of pumpkins, cucumbers, gourds, squash and other vine-grown foods.
- Avoid fried foods!
- Whole grains are rich in fibre and other complex carbohydrates, as well as protein, B vitamins and zinc.
- Drink a lot of (pure) water daily. Water (not cold!) may be taken with meals, but in small quantities and should not be used to “wash down” the food.