Eating the right food is good not only for the body but also for the mind.
Can we live without food? Probably for a few days but not for a lifetime.
Can we live without sleep? Probably for a few days, but our thinking will become erratic if we do not get proper sleep. So, it is clear, that food and sleep are the natural needs of all beings and if these are given prime importance without overruling the laws of nature, then seldom do we face any health hazards.
Just look around you at the daily life of all other beings, other than human beings, and we will find that they never violate the laws of nature and this perhaps is the secret of their health. Contrary to this, human beings always require health updates.
Man, being the supreme creation because of his thinking faculty, misuses this faculty rather than using it properly; he violates the laws of nature and thereby becomes a victim of several psychosomatic disorders and therefore, human beings often require medical assistance for overcoming health problems. Modern society is the worst example in this regard because it has really misguided itself in the name of modern culture.
One such damaging habit is related to food. It is said that the personality of a man is created also out of the food he consumes, besides many other factors. In a way as we eat, so we develop our mind.
Ahara is food
There is a difference in the eastern and western concepts of ahara or food, since there is a great difference in eastern and western lifestyle, values, habits and thinking. Westerners are concerned with the nutritive value of the food that we consume and the food items are analysed on the basis of proteins, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins, etc., and a balanced diet is decided on the basis of the quantity of these values… and their intake can be increased or decreased depending on the requirements and needs of an individual.
Therefore, it can be based only on the requirement of certain food items. Therefore, it can be stated that western dieticians have focused their attention mainly on physical health. The effect of food on the mind and behaviour of an individual has not been given much importance. But according to Indian thinkers, food is considered as Brahma.
Indian culture is so profound; it says that all living beings are born out of food and are sustained by food and they have not only considered the food value in terms of nutrition but tried to analyse the food value from the viewpoint of its source, season and geographical considerations. So also, an individual’s psychophysical constitution and taste for the food is not only responsible for maintaining a person’s physical health but is also responsible for our good or bad thoughts. Food is prana at the deepest level.
Everything that we see in the world around us has some quality in it. From people to buildings, from the books we read, to the music we listen to, from our friends to our job profile, from our thoughts to our feelings, everything that exists can be divided into three categories (gunas) Sattvic – peaceful, alert yet calm; Rajasic – agitated and restless; Tamasic – dull, lethargic and sleepy.
When we are feeling sad or low, it is often because our energy (prana) is low. You would have felt it when you had fever or when you felt down for absolutely no logical reason. Well, never underestimate the influence that food can have on us. For example, the food we ate yesterday is still impacting our mental and emotional state today. If the foods that we primarily ate yesterday were predominately Tamasic, in all probability today we will be feeling dull and sleepy.
Eating foods that are high in prana can support us in regaining a positive state of mind.
What are those foods?
Therefore, eating foods that are high in prana can support us in regaining a positive state of mind. What are those foods? Foods that are high in prana are called Sattvic foods. Sattvic foods are those which not only nourish the body, but also have a calming effect on the mind. Sattvic foods are traditionally easier to digest than the Rajasic or Tamasic variety and do not add to the accumulation of toxins in our systems. These foods include fresh vegetables and fruits, cereals and wholegrain, legumes, nuts, sprouted seeds, honey, herbs and some dairy products.
If you are feeling restless, chances are you have been eating too much of Rajasic food. A certain amount of restlessness in us is good; it can propel us to be active. But too much of restlessness typically precedes emotions such as anxiety, anger, violence, lust or sorrow. This is because Rajasic foods tend to overstimulate the nervous system. They include spicy, hot, bitter, sour and pungent foods. Examples include chemically processed food, chillies, onion, garlic, alcohol, carbonated drinks, chocolates and refined sugars.
If you are feeling dull and heavy (physically, mentally or emotionally), chances are you have been eating too much of Tamasic food. Tamasic foods are rarely nutritious in nature. Prolonged ingestion of predominantly Tamasic food can contribute to more serious conditions like depression. Even a small amount of it will leave you unfocused, uninspired and generally pessimistic and disinterested about life. These foods include fermented, canned, deep-fried and processed foods with a lot of preservatives and colouring agents added to them. Fast foods, foods which have been cooked and then left beyond three hours will lose prana and become Tamasic in nature. These foods adversely affect the functioning of our mental faculties.
What made Mahatma Gandhi walk miles and miles without any tiredness? He walked faster than all the others and survived only on a few Sattvic foods. He neither followed calorie counting nor any strict exercise regime. What made Mother Teresa move around with so much of life and dynamism day and night for the welfare of poor people? She survived on a few fresh foods. These people survived on pure foods, and junk food did not figure in their diet. They lived a pure life. When I say pure, it means purity in their thoughts as well as foods.
You live in this world as a body. This vehicle called the body is as precious as your life. If you are suffering an illness, how can you be healthy? If your body is full of toxins, you will feel heavy and burdened. You cannot be light. You cannot move freely. There is no way for you to jump or dance without aches and pains. Look at the body of a child and you will know she is light because she is free from toxins. But as they grow older, they start thinking in negative ways and as a result, develop energy blocks in their bodies. As you grow older, you start eating wrong foods, which may be very pleasurable to your senses and as a result, you suffer diseases. So, in a way, you start eating junk food because you start thinking wrong thoughts. So, to become Sattvic, you need to bring about certain modifications to your eating habits as well as your thinking patterns.
It is the responsibility of every man to take care of his body. Consciously shifting towards healthier foods will change the blueprint of your mind. Since every thought manifests as a powerful messenger molecule in the brain, by changing your way of thinking you not only improve your body but also your relationships and your destiny.