This is the second part of a two-part article on the yogic approach to food and eating. The first part spoke about how Yogis classify food and the way different foods have varying impacts on our bodies.
Nuts and fruits, Garlic and Onions, Honey and Jaggery. Of these, one pair is a no-no in the Yogic way of eating. Can you guess which one? If you said Honey and Jaggery, think again.
As we said earlier, sometimes the Yogic approach to food is sometimes counter-intuitive and against the social norm. Garlic has several positive qualities, and it is said to be so good for our systems, that it is even used medicinally! Yogis use that principle in its truest sense, so while garlic in its medicinal usage is alright, as a food, it is still an outcast! Yes, garlic and onions are the no-no in the above example.
This is because in addition to seeing food as being Tamasic, Rajasic or Sattvic, Yogic texts define food as having Pranic impacts. Food is not seen as minerals, vitamins, proteins and carbohydrates, rather it is seen as having positive, negative or neutral Pranic qualities. Pranic here simply refers to the prana, or energy that is the focal point of all Yogic endeavors, and those foods which support or enhance the prana are positive Pranic, while those that diminish it, or erode its activity are negative Pranic.
Positive Pranic foods are those specific foods that are packed with Sattvic qualities. Among these, there are a few superlatives – if we work more of these super foods into our diets, it brings us more energy, keeps us calmer and more focused. Without further ado, here are the 5 Superpowered yogic foods:
Ash Gourd (white pumpkin): About 96% of this unassuming giant veggie is water. But don’t be fooled, apart from spiking your pranic energy levels, it is a tremendous immunity booster, helping prevent headaches and colds and keeping your body naturally cool. You can make a juice for 3-4 people out of one 5-6 inch slice of ashgourd by tossing it in the juicer with 6 tsp of lime juice, 3 tsp each of salt and pepper.
Honey: Try this as an experiment. Mix a spoon of honey into your first daily glass of water for a week. Or better yet, try a glass of warm water mixed with one spoon of honey first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. Honey has the natural effect of purifying blood, so a week later, your skin will be clearer and your appetite (and its swings) will be more controlled.
Groundnut/Peanut: One can live on ground nuts alone. No kidding. Groundnuts soaked in water for 6-8 hours make for a wholesome meal. Just a handful of soaked peanuts can be blended with one banana and had as a filling and healthy breakfast porridge. These powerhouse nuts can help handle respiratory issues such as asthma.
Coconut: Sprinkle it raw over a salad of carrots, sprouts and beets or cook it with rice and vegetables. Coconuts help raise HDL or “Good Cholesterol” levels, and can help mitigate the effects of “bad cholesterol” or LDL, as they contain natural saturated fats.
Spices: Onions, Garlic and green chillies are seen as negative pranic foods in the Yogic tradition. However, red chillies and whole spices such as cloves, cardamom, star anise, cinnamon and so on are seen as largely beneficial. However they must be consumed in small quantities, adding not more than a pinch- ½ tsp of spice powder to each dish that is cooked. Seasoning dishes with 1-2 pieces of whole spices is preferred above using spice powders.
And here’s a bonus to the above-mentioned Superfood list. Add sparingly or avoid to get the best effects of a genuinely Yogic diet.
Neutral Pranic Foods: These neither increase nor decrease our Pranic energy – they are eaten just for the taste. Tomatoes and potatoes are a part of this list. Remember, don’t take too much or these turn into inertia-inducing foods.
Negative Pranic Foods: Meat, Eggs, Garlic, Onions, Eggplant, coffee and tea (I know, right!) all significantly lower your Pranic energy levels. Avoiding these helps you boost your body’s innate capacities and capabilities, observe higher resilience and energy levels in yourself, sleep less and function better… the list really is endless.
So now you’re all set. Pick up your meal plan and your recipe book and get working on those crucial additions and omissions. Try it for a month and watch a new sense of ease, of inner balance and external harmony enter your life.
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