Such a great deal of time in our daily lives is related, in one way or another, to food and feeding ourselves. We may find it difficult to remain mindful of what we choose to consume: just one more drink, another piece of cake, a few chocolates here and there…do you often lose track?
Without needing to keep a food diary or mental list of every sugary, alcoholic or fried food we shove in our mouths, we can keep ourselves healthy simply by noticing how we feel after consuming certain foods or beverages. Many people are surprised to discover the strong relationship between their diet and their mood or general wellbeing!
Ayurvedic guidelines are a great starting point for developing mindfulness of the relationship between food and our bodies and minds. Very broadly speaking, in Ayurveda there are three diet types Sattvic, Rajasic, and Tamasic (the three gunas). These diet guidelines are for general purposes only, where there is illness or special circumstances, individual needs should be taken into account and the diet adjusted accordingly.
Sattvic Diet : This is the diet generally followed by yogis and is usually the one offered at ashrams, retreats and meditation centers. It consists of a vegetarian diet of fresh fruits and vegetables (organic if possible), whole grains, legumes and dairy products. Mild, sweet tastes are included while strong, stimulating spices are avoided. Sattvic foods are believed to keep the body lean and agile and promote a calm, clear and compassionate mind.
Rajasic Diet: The party food diet! This group of foods tend to be spicy, salty and sour in taste. Foods that are pickled or aged in some way including, sauces, ketchup, vinegar, wine, tea, coffee, carbonated drinks, all alcohol and red meat are rajasic in nature. These foods are said to increase restlessness and irritability.
Tamasic Diet: This diet consists of food which has been processed and modified in some way or is stale, overheated, oily or heavy. Canned meat and fish, foods with preservatives, frozen, preserved and genetically modified foods have tamasic qualities. These foods are thought to increase lethargy, ignorance and apathy.
The sattvic diet isn’t necessarily or always the best, sometimes low energy and depression indicate a need for rajasic foods, and tamasic foods such as tinned tuna, in small amounts can be added to meals for convenience and increase the nutritional value of a salad or sandwich. When you are eating at cafes and restaurants perhaps you will think of these three food groups and let them guide your choices, or perhaps you will notice how you are feeling and base your choices on that mindfulness.
What is your relationship with food? Do you notice how different foods have a different effect on your mood, your energy levels or even your asana? What sort of foods dominate your diet?