Aspects of Diet and Types of food

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1. Aspects of diet

A. Sam ahar (Conducive diet)

        Always good for health; for example Puranpoli served with ghee (Clarified butter), or sweet dish made from mango pulp and ghee.

B. Visham ahar (Contradictory diet)

        Always harmful for health; for example, fruit salad made by mixing fruits and milk together. Sometimes, combination of two or three food items is harmful for the body. Such combinations are known as contradictory diet; for example milk + rice + salt (addition of salt curdles the milk).

2. Inappropriate or unsuitable food

A. Foods unsuitable to the region

  • Consuming oily and chilled food in places with humid weather, such as regions by the sea or marshy lands; increases kapha (Phlegm) in the body.

  • Consuming dry and pungent food in places that have dry weather is harmful for health.

B. Unsuitable according to weather

  • Consuming curd during autumn or at night increases kapha in the body.

  • Consuming chilled food in winter, hot food in summer is harmful for health.

C. Indigestible food

        The agni within the body is the ability of our body to digest food. Consuming heavy (to digest) or chilled food when the digestive system is weak causes indigestion.

D. Unsuitable to the three humours of the body

        If people who suffer from disorders related to pitta (Bile) consume pungent, sour or salty and hot food, it leads to an increase in pitta in their body.

E. Unsuitable due to allergy

        When an individual is allergic to a particular food item, consuming it causes dysentery, stomach ache, and increase in pitta etc.

F. Unsuitable as per the daily routine

        Giving food items that have tendency to increase kapha in an individual who sleeps for long hours, increases kapha in him.

G. Not following the sequence

        Not attending to nature’s call (i.e. urinating or defecating), and instead eating first.

H. Inappropriate as per the science underlying cooking

        Consuming raw and overcooked items. Items that have been heated twice should not be reheated and consumed after they have turned cold or stale.

I. Inappropriate combination

        Consuming a combination of two or more items which can be harmful for the body. Some examples are given ahead.

  • Avoid consuming a combination of milk and fruits, meaning, avoid milkshakes, fruit-salad.

  • Avoid consuming garlic, any green leafy vegetable or radish with milk. Consumption over a long period causes skin diseases.

  • Do not drink milk after consuming green vegetables or spicy food.

  • Do not consume banana with milk, buttermilk or curd.

  • Do not consume items prepared by mixing meat of different animals.

3. Dire consequences of consuming inappropriate food

        Dire consequences of inappropriate food do not appear immediately, but consumption of inappropriate food over a long period (several months), results in the following diseases and ill effects. Skin diseases, leucoderma, boils, anaemia, diseases of blood, bleeding disorders, mouth diseases, indigestion, stomach diseases, dysentery, bloating of stomach, acidity, severe dysentery, swelling, weakness, sudden weight loss, laziness, anger and mental disorders.

        Modern medical science fails to find the root cause of many diseases.

4. Types of food (diet) and its effect on the human body

        ‘According to the basic nature of human beings, there are three categories of food – Sattva, Raja and Tama. Each individual consumes food as per his basic attitude.

        In the earlier times, people were sattvik (Sattva-predominant) in nature. Hence, they included only bulbs and tubers in their diet. These items have greater sattvikta (Sattva-predominance; Purity).

        The times changed and so did the diet. Human beings began to eat Raja-predominant food items such as cooked rice, pulses, vegetables, etc.

        Subsequently, impact of Raja-Tama components on the earth increased and consequently the diet pattern changed accordingly.

        Human beings began to consume Tama-predominant items such as meat, fish, liquor, etc.

A. Sattvik, rajasik, tamasik diet

  • Sattvik diet : Consuming ripe fruits such as banana, guava etc. that are obtained from trees.
  • Rajasik (Raja-predominant) diet : Consuming grains such as rice, pulses, wheat etc. after cooking or grinding.
  • Tamasik (Tama-predominant) diet : Consuming cooked meat, fats etc.

        Food given by Saints is sattvik, food given by relatives and friends is rajasik and food given by wicked people is tamasik.

        Food consumed while chanting God’s Name (is sattvik, that consumed while talking is rajasik, and that consumed with liquor is tamasik.

5. Effect of sattvik, rajasik and tamasik diet on human body

A. Sattvik diet

आयुः सत्त्वबलारोग्यसुखप्रीतिविवर्धनाः । रस्याः स्निग्धाः स्थिरा हृद्या आहाराः सात्त्विकप्रियाः ।। – Shrimadbhagwadgita 17.8

Meaning : Diet which promotes longevity, intelligence, vigour, health, happiness and selfless love, and which is juicy, succulent, substantial and naturally agreeable, is liked by men of sattvik nature.

B. Rajasik diet

        This enhances the Raja component, which in turn stimulates desires. As a result, an individual becomes excited and sexual desires increase.

C. Tamasik diet

        This enhances the Tama component, which in turn results in increased laziness, ignorance, negligence and sin. Since such an individual fails to think and discriminate appropriately, he suffers from mental inertia.

  • Consumption of sattvik food helps imbibe Deity’s Principle

    Question : Why should we refrain from consuming non-vegetarian food on a day that belongs to our benevolent Deity ?

    Answer : On the day that belongs to our benevolent Deity, the Deity’s Principle is active in a greater proportion. To be able to easily imbibe the Deity’s Principle, we should refrain from consuming Raja-Tama-predominant food and instead eat sattvik food.

6. Types of sattvik food

        Some sattvik foods are mentioned ahead. To improve the sattvikta of the food prepared at home, the following are recommended – recite the Ramraksha-stotra or any other stotra while cooking, chant the Name (of God), pray to Shri Annapurṇadevi (A form of Goddess Parvati, Goddess of food), mix the Naivedya with the rest of the food items.

Types of food which are sattvik :

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A. Food cooked by a sattvik woman

        Sattvik vibrations disperse in the food through the hand-contact of a sattvik woman and provide Anand (Bliss) to individuals who eat this food. Such food is free from Raja-Tama components and hence, tastes better. Consumption of such food makes the process of generation of digestive juices safe and prevents the obstacles created by negative energies in the process of digestion. Consumption of sattvik food cooked by a sattvik woman also enhances strength from the spiritual perspective.

B. Food to be served as Naivedya

While cooking food that is to be served as Naivedya, the following etiquettes are followed.

  • Use of minimum quantity of spice and salt.

  • Use of pure ghee instead of oil, thereby making the items additionally sattvik.

        When food prepared is offered to the Deity as Naivedya, it imbibes the Deity Principle, and augments the sattvikta of that food. Also, when a portion of the Naivedya (for example, cooked rice) is mixed with rice cooked for the family, all who eat this serving of rice obtain that sattvikta. This action should be repeated with other food too.

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C. Food served with ghee

        Ghee poured on top of the food purifies it and also provides necessary lubrication and sattvikta to the body. It is a common practice to pour ghee on the dal served atop the rice; it is known as ‘annashuddhi’ (Purification of food). Ghee has food purifying properties. Hence, consuming ghee eliminates toxic substances that are present not just in the food, but also in the gastrointestinal tract when it reaches there.

D. Food from the Ashram of Saints

        The food prepared in the Ashrams of Saints is cooked while chanting. This food is also positively influenced by the sattvik environment of the Ashram and by the emotion of love of the Saints’ devotees and seekers.

E. Modern science does not give a thought to the sattvikta of food !

        ’Modern science specifies the importance of food for the development of the body, but fails to think beyond. The mind is created from the food we consume. If the food is vegetarian and sattvik, then the mind and intellect automatically become sattvik. Modern science does not consider the effects of subtle-aspects of the food. Only sattvik food enables us to perform Yogasadhana (Spiritual practice) and attain God’. Gurudev Dr. Kateswamiji

Reference : Sanatan Sanstha’s Holy text ‘Importance of a sattvik diet’.