Guruji on Food, Body and Soul – Pay attention to your diet
According to the Upanishads, food is that which is experienced by consciousness, directly or indirectly. Purity of food leads to purity of mind. It is a fact that what we consume influences our thoughts and behaviour. Our body is a very powerful instrument, maintained by the food that we eat. Each type of food has a different influence upon various parts of our brain. A fruit and milk diet helps in increasing concentration. Our rishis lived mostly on fruits and milk. Remember, dietary discipline is essential for every man. It is important to learn what type of food should be eaten, and how much of liquid drink must be taken. The quality of the food we consume and the manner in which it is prepared matters very much. Non-vegetarian food is not ‘satvik’ and should be avoided by a meditator.
There is not any single perfect diet that is perfect for all persons. Each one of us is unique and different, each one of us requires different quantities of nutrients, in order to maintain our health. A labourer will need much more nutrients in his food as compared to an office goer. An undernourished patient will need certain specific nourishing foods and a person who is mostly indoors will require Vitamin D supplements. Nevertheless, there are some general guidelines that have been passed on to us, by our ancestors, from generation to generation. In the interest of our health and well-being, it is better that we pay heed to these general guidelines, which apply to almost every one of us.
- Do not fall prey to your taste-buds. It is not tasty food but healthy food that must be your criteria. Healthy food may not always be tasty but all tastes can be acquired. Understand that healthy food is a must for a healthy body. Indulgence in smoking, drinking, etc., takes its toll on the body. Get rid of the habit of excessive consumption of beverages such as tea, coffee, etc. Eating with the hands increases the ‘satvik’ nature of our consumption.
- Do not make eating a habit. Eat only when hungry and eat small meals at fixed hours. Irregular meals create acidity in the body. Ensure that there are proper gaps between meals.
Chew your food properly. Do not gulp down food and drink – it leads to indigestion. The stomach and liver become overburdened and food starts fermenting and rotting in the intestines.
- It is very important to express prayers of gratitude before we eat. These few moments spent in a spiritual manner before partaking the food, creates a state of harmony in our entire system.
- Do not eat under stressful conditions. Food prepared and taken under such circumstances, instead of nourishing the body – acts as a slow poison. When you are angry and upset, it affects the saliva glands and the gastric juices. It is very important to consume food in a pleasant atmosphere.
- Always watch what you eat. Large amounts of artificially flavoured drinks and refined junk food are dangerous to health. Choose a diet that consists of unprocessed and whole foods which do not contain artificial chemicals.
- Poor food habits lead to poor bowel movements. Cut down on the use of refined sugar and refined salt. Cultivate the habit of moderate use of organic sugar through consumption of dates, honey, jaggery, and fruit juices.
- Food taken should be fresh and natural, prepared properly, neither over-cooked nor under-cooked. If food is chewed well, then there is no danger of over-eating. Best way to lose weight is to eat foods that are suitable for your system.
- Always drink water half an hour before or after eating your meals, else the water consumed by you may dilute and weaken the digestive juices, and in turn will affect your digestion and health.
- Maintain a good posture while eating and do not go to sleep immediately after your meals. Sufficient time should be given for your digestive system to complete its work. Incomplete digestion affects your heart and entire system.
- Consciously practice good nutrition and create resistance to viral diseases. Maintain sound health and protect yourself from the various prevalent illnesses.
- One who is interested in leading a spiritual life, should maintain a nutritious vegetarian diet. The effects of vegetarian diet are seen when one is no longer youthful, and energy levels start depleting. Old-age is generally more pleasant for vegetarians as it rarely diminishes the existing agility of their minds.
The wisdom of our ancestors is incomparable. They cooked their food, and ate it as an offering to their Creator – God. We are the instruments of God. It is important for us to remember this. We must not get too attached to food and must always eat it as an offering to the God within us. Hence, it is equally important to ensure that we remain healthy and service-oriented so that we are able to carry out our duties selflessly and cheerfully.