I know of yoga teachers and practitioners who praise the values of raw, vegan and veggie diets. I also know some, who’ll eat meat until the cows come home. I’m not here to tell anyone what the yogi diet should be because I don’t think diet is an important deciding factor on how good a yogi you are.
Diets aren’t about what others think, they’re about what you feel. Do what makes your own body feel the best, not what someone else says will make you feel well. Trust your nose, if certain foods smell bad to you, its your bodies way of telling you it doesn’t want them. Food is very personal. I will never meet someone and make judgments based on what diet they follow.
Having said that, on my teacher-training course we were made to follow the ancient diet of yogis: the Sattvic diet.As if your mind hasn’t been over-saturated by countless diets already, I thought I’d share with you the Sattvic diet. Instead of taking into account vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, the Sattvic diet is led by the energy of food and how it affects us mentally and physically. Sounds pretty different right? It was very interesting how much we, as a group of 8, focused on the food. It bonded us, it stressed us out, and it made our day (above the picture of the pizza I devoured when we ran away in to the small local town – though ironically pizza is kind of Sattvic).
What is a Sattvic diet? I hear you ask. It’s food, which is said to promote clarity of mind and body. This includes; most vegetables, fruit, sprouted whole grains, non-pasteurized dairy products, seeds, nuts and natural sweeteners (honey etc). A good way to get a clearer picture of what is Sattvic are the two types of food you’re not allowed to eat.
Rajasic food, which is said to be bad for your mind, causes restlessness of mind which would seem counter intuitive to the plight of the yogi. Rajasic foods include; coffee, tea, green tea, chocolate, spices, chilli, alcohol, drugs and tobacco. Green tea? Chocolate? TEA? Yes you can imagine your responses were shared by all 8 of us.
The 2nd food, Tamasic, is supposed to be the worst type of food as it causes lethargy of your mind and body. Tamasic food includes; meat, fish, eggs, onion and garlic. The garlic was something a lot of people found hard in the group and to this day still question why it would be bad for you as its a natural antibiotic along with the countless benefits of garlic you can read about here. But I guess thats the point is that its about an overall energy effect rather than the vitamins and minerals contained so read about why it may be bad here.
For me it was a challenge. I’ve been a vegan, a vegetarian, and I’ve embraced many diets along the way, but I cant say I’ve ever been told, you know, you cant eat onion bro. I’m aware that food shouldn’t be such a heart ache for people, as long as you have it be thankful and I occasionally fast, (which I’ve written about here), to remind myself of that. But I never had such a ‘strange’ diet put before me. It made me intrigued as to what the results would be. My stomach lost it for a while there. My mind was pretty clear; we were practicing so much meditation I think it may of had something to do with it. My body was tired as anything from the schedule but I did manage to get through it without falling back on caffeine. I grew to love iceberg lettuce. Did you know if you eat something for seven days straight your taste buds grow to like it?
I’m a lover of food, healthy eating and making being healthy interesting. I’m not on a Sattvic diet anymore, but it taught me even more so to be grateful for what’s in front of me. It also reinforced what I already felt that caffeine disturbs your mind, tofu is not something I want to eat instead of vegetables and meat takes a damn long time to be processed by your body.
Have you ever heard/been on the Sattvic diet? What’s your current go-to health craze?
Helen – WAP