What, When, How and How much to Eat
[Note: These guidelines are based mostly on the material presented in the book "The Healthy Vegetarian" by Swami Satchidananda]
These are some general guidelines that will help you improve your diet habits and provide better nutrition. However, if you have special dietary needs, please consult your doctor/dietician for specific guidelines.
- Eat when you are hungry, not because it is time to eat or the food looks/smells too tempting; allow the food you have eaten to be fully digested before you eat the next meal.
- Eat what you can digest easily
- Chew your food thoroughly. Drink your solids, and eat your fluids
- If you eat one meal a day, you are a Yogi; If you eat two meals a day, you are a Bhogi (one given to sensual enjoyment); If you eat three meals a day, you are a Rogi (a sick person)
- Recommended - light breakfast, full lunch, light dinner. Avoid snacks in-between. Eat at least three hours before going to bed.
- Change eating habits gradually
- While eating, maintain your awareness on the food. During a meal, avoid heated discussion, reading, watching TV or doing anything else that can distract your attention from the food
- Eat when the mind and body are calm and relaxed. Avoid eating when you are agitated or angry
- Eat Satvic food. Avoid Rajasik and Tamasik foods. Fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, seeds, nuts, tofu, beans, dairy products, honey and fruit and vegetable juices are considered satvic. Avoid putting toxins in the body - caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, dope, drugs, uppers (e.g., cocaine), downers (e.g., sedatives) and most chemical preservatives in packaged foods are toxic
- Eat few varieties of foods with each meal. Try not to mix raw food with cooked food.
- Drink only small amounts of water, sipping occasionally, with your meal. Avoid milk, soda, juice or any other drink. All drinks dilute the digestive juices in the system and weaken the digestion. Drink fluids at least a half hour before or after meals.
- Occasional fasting cleanses the system of toxins
- If you are trying to reduce weight, focus on positive steps. Do not worry about being overweight
- Regular yoga practice helps develop a positive attitude and a strong willpower allowing you to make better food choices
- Vegetarian sattvic diet (non-meat, low-fat and high-fiber) is the recommended yoga diet
- "If you want to eat more, eat less". The meaning is to avoid over-eating, which will keep the body much healthier and allow one to live a longer life, and over the course of those added years or decades one would consume more food than in a life cut short by illness from habitual over-eating!