It is essential to maintain a nutritious diet to ensure optimal health, even with regular exercise. The right quantity and quality of food play a crucial role in maintaining good health, often more so than exercise alone.
While I personally prefer a vegetarian diet, it is important to listen to your body and satisfy its cravings, even if that means incorporating meat into your diet. However, it is crucial to have access to a variety of vegetarian foods, and the knowledge and resources to properly prepare them, before committing to a strictly vegetarian diet. Making drastic changes to your diet without adequate knowledge or resources can negatively impact your health.
When transitioning to a new diet, it is essential to do so gradually. Sudden changes to your diet can be harmful and can disrupt your body’s balance. It’s important to take small steps and listen to your body’s responses before making further changes.
Gain a Comprehensive Understanding of Diet through Reading Books:
Studying diet requires reading and considering multiple sources of information. Rather than relying on just one book, it is recommended that you read several to gain a well-rounded understanding of the subject. This approach allows you to absorb the information and form your own conclusions, making it a part of your knowledge base. In this way, you will not have to constantly refer to a book for information when you need it.
The Power of the Mind:
It is often said, “What one person considers food, another considers poison.” While this statement is not entirely accurate, it contains a grain of truth. The imagination can have a profound impact on our physical well-being, including the digestive system. If someone believes that the food they are eating is harmful, their imagination will focus on the potential consequences, causing the expected symptoms to materialize.
However, if the same food is presented to them under a different guise, they are likely to experience no adverse effects. This demonstrates the power of the mind in shaping our perception of food and its impact on our body.
Establishing a Healthy Appetite:
It is important to note that individual digestive capacities can vary. While one person may be able to derive the necessary nourishment from a particular food, another may have difficulties due to a defect in their digestive system or the production of gastric juices. This highlights the significance of establishing and relying on a healthy appetite when selecting a nutritious diet.
A healthy appetite has a natural inclination towards the food that the body requires the most. Appetites are generally healthy until they become disrupted by unhealthy habits such as overeating or eating when not hungry. The desire for unhealthy foods often indicates that the digestive system has been damaged by excessive food intake and is seeking relief. This can lead to an increased appetite for stimulants such as alcohol. In such cases, the craving is a result of a stomach suffering from overeating or eating without an appetite.
Gladstone’s Chewing Guideline:
Dietary experts generally recommend eating slowly, but this does not mean chewing slowly. In fact, the faster you chew, the more saliva is produced, allowing the food to be more quickly prepared for swallowing.
According to reports, Gladstone advised chewing each mouthful of food thirty times for optimal digestion. This number is nearly accurate for the proper role of saliva in the digestive process.
The Joy of Eating:
Chew your food thoroughly and savor the experience of eating. It is a disservice to your body to eat without a proper appetite. The enjoyment of food plays a crucial role in proper digestion, not only increasing the production of saliva but also stimulating the flow of gastric juice in the stomach.
When food is consumed without hunger or enjoyment, the digestive process becomes strained and proper health is difficult to achieve. Eating in this manner is ineffective, as the food offers no nutritional benefit and instead adds to the workload of the digestive organs. This can actually reduce physical strength, as the blood is redirected from the muscles to help eliminate the unnecessary burden. Eating should be a source of nourishment and pleasure, not a burden.
The Importance of Eating with Hunger:
Many people believe that they need to eat regularly to maintain their strength, but in reality, eating food without feeling hungry can actually cause weakness. A simple rule to follow is to only eat when you are truly hungry. Eating when you are not hungry can negatively impact your overall health.
How to Cultivate Hunger:
Some may argue that they never feel hungry, but this can easily be remedied through fasting for a few days. Fasting for several days can help to restore your appetite and increase your enjoyment of food. Eating the right kinds of food is just as important as eating at the right time. You should eat food that your body can digest and only eat what your appetite calls for. When you feel like you have had enough, stop eating.
The Dangers of Superfine White Flour:
Avoid consuming white flour and food products made from it. Superfine flour is stripped of all essential nutrients needed for healthy muscles, bones, and brain function. It is also known to cause constipation. Instead, opt for whole wheat bread and use whole wheat flour in place of white flour in all recipes. Whole wheat flour contains the right balance of essential nutrients needed for good health and can be easily digested. Eating acid fruits can also be beneficial. Stick to eating wholesome, nutritious foods and avoid rich, heavily seasoned dishes.
Contrary to popular belief, breakfast is not the most important meal of the day. In fact, eating two meals a day may work better for you than eating three. When you overeat or eat too often, your digestive system becomes overworked and doesn’t produce enough digestive juices, which results in feeling weak and fatigued. To overcome this, try eating less often and give your stomach time to rest and produce gastric juice.
Fasting for a few meals or several days can be extremely beneficial in restoring balance to your body. Before attempting a long fast, make sure you are fully prepared and committed. When it’s time to eat, focus on eating the food you relish and avoid anything that doesn’t appeal to you.
Contrary to popular belief, it’s unnecessary to eat 6-8 small meals a day to maintain your metabolism. Eating that often is unrealistic and can be stressful. It’s better to eat one or two big meals a day without worrying about the next meal. Grazing throughout the day is not necessary and can make you feel ruled by the clock and irritable.
Adopting the Lion’s Diet:
Emulate the eating habits of a lion with Intermittent Fasting, where you have a set time frame for consuming your meals and the rest of the day is spent fasting. Typically, the eating window is 8 hours and the fasting window is 16 hours. Personally, I prefer to have one or two substantial meals per day instead of spreading them out throughout the day, including breakfast. Breakfast is often touted as the most important meal of the day, but in reality, it can slow down mental clarity. By skipping breakfast, you can increase your sharpness and focus, as the energy spent on digesting food can be redirected towards more productive activities. So, eat later in the day and maximize your energy levels.
The Ancient Sages’ Ideal Diet:
A Brahmachari is advised to follow a balanced and nutritious diet that is simple and easy to digest. This can be achieved by consuming adequate amounts of steamed or cooked, wheat/corn-based food for breakfast/lunch, and a salad consisting of fresh fruits and raw vegetables for dinner. It is recommended to have a cup of milk in the morning and evening and a cup of yogurt after lunch. The moderate intake of butter and ghee is also suggested. The purpose of such a diet is to reduce the mind’s dependence on taste as a source of pleasure. It is believed that by controlling one’s tongue, control over other sense organs can be developed and Brahmacharya becomes easier.
FOOD TO AVOID:
- Spicy, hot, sour, and pungent food items and additives.
- Onion and garlic to the greatest extent possible.
- Oily and fatty foods (Ghee and butter in moderation are exceptions).
- Fermented or overly seasoned foods (fresh yogurt is an exception).
- All types of meat (for the initial period).
- Coffee, aerated drinks, tobacco, alcohol, and drugs.
These foods should be avoided as they increase the “Rajasic” and “Tamasic” tendencies in humans, igniting their sensual desires. From my personal experience, avoiding these foods leads to a calmer, clearer, and more serene state of mind. It takes a few months of strict adherence to realize the benefits of following a “sattvic” diet. With persistence and commitment, it is attainable. By switching to a pure “sattvic” diet, one will experience improved physical and mental health, greater cheerfulness, and reduced agitation and restlessness. This is crucial for someone striving to overcome their animalistic tendencies. It’s important to remember to only eat what is enjoyed, and leave all other foods aside if not relished. Sometimes, skipping a meal or several days of fasting can bring about a healthier condition, but before attempting a long fast, it’s best to be sure of your position.