When I was trying to shed a few pounds, my trainer had told me about a golden rule that had helped most of his clients lose weight faster and in a healthier way- Diet makes up for 70% while exercise makes up the other 30. What goes in through our mouth is extremely important not just to lose or gain weight but to also maintain a healthy lifestyle and for longevity.
I am an avid yoga practitioner and given the craze for yoga in the past few decades, I used to often wonder whether yoga is only about asana. Is there no special diet that yogics advocate?
Turned out that there indeed is a yogic food system, but which isn’t much talked about- wonder why? Anyway, if you incorporate this food system in your daily schedule you are likely to see a vast difference, especially if you do yoga regularly.
However, remember that you don’t need to follow the yogic food system to a tee. I will be talking about this a little later.
What is the yogic food system all about?
Yogis concentrated on eating foods that were not only good for health but which also kept the body light and alert for practicing yoga. The foods are divided into three categories- sattvic, tamasic and rajasic.
Sattvic or pure foods mainly cover clarified butter, vegetables, fruits, whole grain, and legumes. Tamasic refer to meat, onions, and garlic while Rajasic comprise of salt, coffee, and hot peppers.
The idea behind sattvic food is to eat only to satiate the hunger without compromising on the body’s ability to stay light and alert. Yogis preferred eating natural food that kept their digestive system healthy.
Not just the type of food but the timing of meals also makes for an important part of this system. Like rishi munis of India, yogis too laid emphasis on eating between sunrise and sunset, and avoiding eating at all after the sun had set. Plus, it is advisable that the meal timings should be fixed. Akin to training a pet to get accustomed to food timings, keeping a fixed schedule for meals ensure that your body gets acclimatized to what it is going to receive in terms of food and when.
One important trend that yogis follow is the principle of eating to fill only half a stomach. While a quarter should be filled with water, the other quarter should be kept empty. The reason behind this is the same- keeping the body light.
Yogis also follow the principle of Ahimsa or non-violence, which is why they do not eat meat at all. Additionally, they also consider meat to be a Tamasic food that makes the mind dull and the body heavy, and hence avoid all forms of meat.
Is yogic food system for you?
Absolutely, while the idea behind eating food to keep your body light and healthy has no drawbacks, the entire food preferences and habit might be a little difficult to follow. In fact, the conditions in which yogis lived were way different than ours, which is why you need to improvise upon this system to get the best of it without depriving your body of nutrients.
Unless you are a vegan, get into the habit of having white meat once or twice a week, and make it four to five times a week if you are losing weight and building muscles (not necessarily beefing up but when an overweight person loses weight, they are burning the fat and gaining muscle. So, either way you build up muscle). White meat comes sans high quantities of fat, and is loaded with proteins, and our body needs protein, and meat is unarguably the best source.
Not eating after sunset completely is again might not possible in this era where we are glued to the internet till midnight at least. But what you can do is have a snack or keep your portions small if you are having a full blown meal after 8 p.m.
One major part of the system that you must adopt is the inclusion of sattvic food. Vegetables, plants, and whole grain are a lot healthier than the processed alternatives and are a part of every healthy eating program. Getting more of these on the table will help not only to maintain a fabulous figure and health, but will also help tremendously if you love doing yoga. Since sattvic food helps to keep the digestive system healthy and gets rid of toxins, one of the benefits include healthy-looking skin and hair.
Personally, I tried the yogic system with adjustments suiting my nutritional and caloric requirements, and I managed to get rid of the weight loss plateau within two days!
Have you tried including the yogic food system in your diet? What are some principles of this system that you follow or intend to follow?