Have you heard the saying “you are what you eat?” “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” and “carrots help you see in the dark?”
How about the famous saying “eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper?”
Quotations like this tell you just how powerful food is and how much of our lives are dominated by what we eat.
Everywhere you look there are TV commercials for food and there are fast food stores, sandwich bars or cafes on every street corner. It seems like your whole life is surrounded by what to eat in one shape or other.
With so much choice around, how do you know what will nourish and protect your body? You know that fruit and vegetables are good for you, yet when faced with such a glorious display at your local supermarket how do you decide what vegetables to pick and choose?
As usual, yoga provides you with a simple solution to help you choose foods that are wholesome, energising and have optimal nutritional value. Yoga philosophy encourages you to eat tamasic food which contributes to your health and well-being; to eat things that bring inner peace to the mind and body and encourage spiritual growth.
From a yogic point of view, all of life is classified into their energetic qualities, known as the three Gunas. The types of tamasic food list you eat are also classified according to their energetic qualities. These three qualities or three gunas are known as “Sattva”, “Rajas” and “Tamasic”
Sattvic foods are pure natural foods. They are foods that bring maximum vitality, energy and stability to your mind, body and soul. Where possible, sattvic foods are best eaten as close as possible to their natural state, e.g fresh, organic, raw, lightly cooked or steamed. Sattvic foods include grains such as barley, rice, oats, millet and quinoa, fresh fruits and vegetables, pulses, nuts and seeds.
Rajasic foods are active foods which over-stimulate and activate the body and mind, for example, coffee, heavily spiced and salted or fast foods. Rajasic foods taste bitter and sour. From a yogic philosophy rajasic foods agitate the mind and make it difficult for you to be calm and peaceful.
Tamasic foods are foods which are stale, over ripe or unripe, or which are overcooked and dead – for example meat, fried, burned or reheated foods. From a yogic perspective, tamasic foods are hard for you to digest, full of fat and have minimal nutritional value.
Classifying your foods into the three gunas (sattvic, rajasic and tamasic) gives you an idea of the nutritional and energetic quality of your food. They are not static categories but offer you guidelines to eat foods which promote and enhance your physical health and emotional well being.
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