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Role of Sattvika Diet in Modern Era

Yakub Topno,
M.P.Ed-Final Yr.
L.N.U.P.E, Gwalior

Abstract:
In all living organism food is very essential for their growth and development. Not only this, its
help to producing energy to do work. Today modern age an era of global warming, there is lot of pollution.
People are suffering from various diseases. Now a day’s life style is so fast. People are engaged in very less
physical activity. Health and Fitness is lacking among people. Each and every body is going beyond fast
food and junk food. Therefore they are suffering from various diseases like Obesity, Diabetes, Cardiac
Problem, High Blood Pressure etc.
A Sattvika diet is non spicy using only minimal seasoning hence it becomes easy to digest and does
not act as an irritant to the gastro intestinal track. Sattvika food, that gives a fair amount of energy, but
takes very little energy to digest and metabolize. All natural grains, cereals, vegetables, fruits, honey, milk
and milk products are Sattvika in nature.

So, there is an urgent demand of a planned, controlled and safe diet which is Sattvika diet.

Key words: Sattvik diet, obesity, diabetes, cardiac problem, high blood pressure.

Introduction

We all understand the importance of good physical health and its impact on daily life.
And most people understand the role that food plays in the health of our bodies. The yogis have
always known the superior benefits that a Sattvika diet brings on this front, which is reflected in
the yoga diet.

Modern fast food item like hamburgers, pizzas, jams, jellies, soft drinks, ice creams etc.
have gained control over our eating patterns and is the main cause of obesity we see all around.
These fast foods are rich source of sugar, oils and preservatives all of which are not good for our
health. People are now attracted by various types of fast food which are very low in nutrition. In
addition, these foods tax our digestive system and body has to do extra work for digestion and
elimination of such food. Every day we are faced with the choice of selecting our food and we
must prefer nutritious food rather than the taste.
More people fall sick due to overeating or wrong dietary habits as compared to people
who get sick due to non availability of food. Observe moderation in quantity of food we eat.
People who keep on overeating without proper understanding of the principles of eating,
gradually begins to harm themselves physically and mentally.

Food represents sustenance - a primary support for life itself. In Vedic culture, food is
considered as an aspect of Brahman (the absolute, or God). This is why the yogis eat with the
feeling that their food is an offering or gift from nature.

The purpose of food should be looked at before choosing what to eat. Why do we need to
eat? To give energy to the body and mind, increase the resistance power of the body and to
develop the mind. Fresh food gives lightness, happiness, joyfulness and increases intelligence.
The food should be suitable for the mind, body, intelligence and soul.

Yogic diet

The yogis of ancient times knew and many classical yogic texts, such as the Hatha Yoga
Pradipika, contain advice on a yogic diet. However, proper diet is a controversial subject.
Nutrition has been extensively researched by modern science, and there seems to be as many
'proper' diets as there are scientific studies. The advice given below is based on the classical
yogic texts. It also gives pointers for further research and experimentation.

Unlike modern scientists, yogis are not interested in the chemical content (protein, vitamins,
etc.) of the food. Instead, food is traditionally classified according to its effect on the body and
mind, using the three Gunas: Sattva (the quality of love, light and life), Raja (the quality of
activity and passion, lacking stability) and Tamas (the quality of darkness and inertia, dragging
us into ignorance and attachment):

• Sattvic food promotes clarity and calmness of mind and is favourable for spiritual
growth. It is "sweet, fresh and agreeable" and includes most fruits, nuts, seeds,
vegetables, particularly green leafy vegetables, whole grains, honey, pure water and milk.
• Rajasic food feeds the body, but promotes activity and therefore induces restlessness of
mind. It disturbs the equilibrium of the mind and is generally to be avoided by yoga
practionners. Rajasic foods include most spicy foods, stimulants like coffee and tea, eggs,
garlic, onion, meat, fish and chocolate, as well as most processed food. Rajasic food
should be avoided by those whose aim is peace of mind, but will benefit people with an
active lifestyle. A little rajasic food can be sattvic, for example, hot spices can help
digestion, and therefore help create peace of mind.
• Tamasic food (to be avoided) induces heaviness of the body and dullness of the mind,
and ultimately benefits neither. It includes alcohol, as well as food that are stale or
overripe. Overeating is also tamasic. The traditional advice is to fill the stomach half
with food, one quarter with water, leaving the last quarter empty.

An important issue with a yogic diet is that of vegetarianism. Not only are fish and meat
specifically listed amongst the "food injurious to the yoga" by the Hatha Yoga Pradipika (I, 59),
but eating the flesh of dead animals violates the first principle of yogic ethics (yamas) as laid
down by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras, that of non- violence (ahimsa). Yogis believe that the fear
of death permeate every cell the body of an animal when it is slaughtered, and therefore, the
traditional yogic diet is lacto-vegetarian and avoids eggs as well as all animal flesh (including
fish). Indeed modern research has shown that vegetarians are generally in better health than
meat eaters. Proteins that can be obtain from nuts, dairy products and legumes are generally of a
better quality than meat.

Ayurveda, the classic system of Indian medicine, classifies people, as well as food into
three categories according to their nature. These three categories, or doshas as they are called,
are Pitta (hot and oily), Vata (dry and light) and Kapha (cold and moist) and in ayurveda. The
individual's diet should be tailored to the individual's constitution to keep the doshas in balance.
Some foods which are recommended for a particular ayurvedic constitution may not be suitable
for another; for example, while milk, a sattvic food, is generally good for Pitta constitution, it
may not suit someone with a Kapha constitution. The ideal ayurvedic diet also changes
depending on the time of the year.
They are many more approaches to dieting, and eating the right food, in the right amount, in the
right combination, at the right time, is a difficult art that can only be learned by experimenting to
find out what works best.

Sattvika diet

A yogic diet ideally follows a sattvic diet. A balance of fresh fruit, vegetables, cooked
whole grains, milk, legumes, nuts and seeds, using a combination of both raw and cooked foods.
These foods increase sattwa in the body because they are light, simple and supply all the
necessary nutrients. They increase our physical and mental vitality making it easier to experience
clarity, lightness and peace of mind. Rajasic foods are prepared with much oil and spice. They
create heaviness and restlessness in the mind. Meat and fish are classified under these. Onion and
garlic are also under this group as they increase desire. Tamasic foods are foods that are old and
stale. They lower the energy and cause laziness. They include foods that are not cooked properly
or chewed well and processed foods. Stale, processed and frozen foods have lost their pranic
energy. If we try to eat only sattvic foods as much as possible we can slowly change the body
chemistry, renewing the digestive system and taking away any strain. Ideally we should eat foods
that take minimum energy to digest, so that the remaining energy can be used for more
productive uses.

When eating it is important to fill the stomach half full with food. A quarter should be left
for water or liquids. The last quarter should be left empty for digestion to take place. This space
is necessary for the stomach to churn the food with the digestive juices. It is also said in Hindu
culture that this last quarter should be left for Lord Shiva.

The timing of meals should be fixed. In this way the body begins to release digestive
secretions at a certain time. It is important not to skip meals so that the body doesn’t keep going
into panic mode and decide to store excess fat. Change the diet according to the seasons. Don’t
eat imported foods. Always try to eat what is local and fresh. If you know your dosha/prakriti
then makes your food choices accordingly. Don’t eat when negative, angry or depressed. How
you are thinking effects your digestion. You should only eat when you are happy and peaceful.
When you eat focus, feel and appreciate every mouthful, eating slowly and being thankful for the
food that has been given to you. Remember, eat to live, and don’t eat to live.
The digestive system is one of the most important systems in the body and links all the
other systems together. A poor digestive system is the core problem to many health conditions. It
is affected not just by what we eat but also by our emotions. An awareness of the digestive
processes and the choices we make in eating can help to achieve both physical and mental
balance, bringing peace and well being.

Some Recommendations for a Sattvic Diet:

1. Try to each fresh, leafy green 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.
2. Vegetables that grow beneath the ground should be used sparingly, with the exception of
carrots.
3. 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.
4. Avoid canned or preserved foods.
5. The yoga diet includes a regular variety of nuts. These, however, should be boiled or
steamed, and not fried or roasted.
6. A legume, which is another name for beans, peas and lentils, are all good sources of fiber,
protein, iron, calcium, zinc and B vitamins.
7. Soymilk and soya products are an excellent source of B vitamins and calcium and should
be included in the daily yoga diet.
8. Make plentiful use of pumpkins, cucumbers, gourds, squash and other vine-grown foods.
9. Avoid fried foods!
10. Whole grains are rich in fiber and other complex carbohydrates, as well as protein, B
vitamins and zinc.
11. 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.
References:-
1. Sequeria, H. (1993), Diet and Nutritional – A Holistic Approach, Yoga and Total Health,
Bombay, Vol.-XXXVIII- Mar – No-8, Pg.- 4.

2. Narold, S. (1991), Controlling Obesity, Yoga and Total Health, Bombay, Vol.- XXXVI-
May-No.-10, Pg.- 6.

3. Bhatia, Neelam (1992), Vegetarian Vs Non-vegetarian Food, Yoga and Total Health,
Bombay, Vol.-XXXVII-May- No-10, Pg.- 20.

4. Swami Svatmaram; ‘Hatha Yoga Pradipika’. Kaivalyadhama, Lonavala; 1970 Pg.-29.