As we hit our 50s, we can’t deny that following a balanced diet is the way forward to physical wellbeing and a chance to slow down the ageing process. However, eating well is much more than just sticking to a weekly meal plan. The Yogic diet, based on Ayurvedic Principles, suggests that if we want to grow stronger and healthier we shouldn’t consider eating as a result of an indulgence driven by cravings or desire: what we consume affects our mind and soul, too.
A yogi diet has a huge influence not only over your physical wellbeing but also over your thoughts and ultimately your emotional and spiritual wellbeing – naturopath Kimberly Parsons, also known as the Yoga chef, author of the book The Yoga Kitchen Plan says-. Like all living organisms in the universe, the foods we eat possess qualities and energies that affect our mind, body and soul. Yogic foods such as fruits and vegetables, nuts and whole grains, known as sattvic, are considered abundant in chi or prana, the universal life force that gives energy to all beings in both the plant and animal kingdoms. When we eat a pure diet, the food and life force found in these foods bring us physical strength, clarity to our mind, health and longevity. They also calm purify and lead to a peaceful mind in control of a fit body with a balanced flow of energy between them leading to a peaceful state where higher consciousness becomes accessible.
Sattvic, Rajasic and Tamasic Foods
A Yogic diet aims to optimum health and a peaceful mind in control of a fit body. It consists of foods with sattvic qualities, which increase energy and create a holistic balance (such as fresh fruits, green vegetables, nuts, dairy products and whole grains), rajasic and tamasic foods, which are limited or eliminated whenever possible, as their low vibration or life force and inherent toxins reduce the vitality of the person eating them.
As you step into a yogic way of life and find calmness through sattvic foods – Kimberly Parsons explains- we need to find the balance of energy and fire in our bodies with the addition of rajasic foods, such as cacao, matcha, turmeric, chilli, ginger and cheeses. They have less life for the energy of sattvic foods but they are essential in moderation to help stimulate our body and the mind. They are best eaten in the morning and before noon as they can often disrupt normal cortisol levels and create energy imbalances.
On the other hand, it is highly recommended that you steer clear from over-consumption of tamasic food such as caffeine, sugar, processed or canned foods, meat, salt, refined grains and over-cultivated, packaged, preserved, and deep-fried products. They all can be difficult to digest, make you feel bloated and encourage lethargy.
Extra Yogic Tips
More importantly, practise mindful eating: make sure you know what you eat and how you eat. Be aware of how you chew, make eating as enjoyable as possible. When we bring our awareness to eating and grant ourselves the freedom of a healthy state of mind, that is truly a Yogi’s diet.
For Kimberly Parsons consuming probiotic-rich, fermented foods, such as miso and sauerkraut, and drinks, such as kefir and kombucha, will introduce beneficial bacteria into your digestive system.
This help maintains a balance of good, healthful bacteria against the bad bacteria, which can inhibit the absorption of all the amazing nutrients we will be eating, cause bloating or five us hazy brain fog – she says-. Eating plenty of prebiotic foods, such as asparagus, banana, oats and apples every day feeds these healthy probiotic bacteria and helps keep our immune systems strong.
Drinking plenty of water
We all know that drinking water is an essential daily habit. Staying hydrated helps our muscles recover more quickly post-yoga, it also helps flush out the toxins that we accumulate in our body.
Here is an easy way to work out how much water you should drink each day – says Kimberly-. Divide your body weight in kilos by 30. This number equals how many litres of clean water each day. What you won’t find, however, is my recommendation for liquids during your meals. Too much liquid with meals can dilute the digestive juices we need to properly break down our food. Therefore I don’t recommend you drink large amounts fo any fluid, be it juice, water or tea, for at least 30 minutes before a meal or hours afterwards.
Avoid eating after sunset
For dinner, you should consume a much lighter meal compared to the one you have for lunch. This is because you would not want to overload your digestive system right before you head to bed. Bloatedness, an effect from overeating, can cause you to have trouble sleeping, and you may feel lethargic in the morning.
Ready to extend your yoga practice to the table by applying these basic yogic rules? Don’t forget to say thank you before consuming your meal. Gratitude is, in fact, the first step in experiencing true contentment in life.