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Yogic Diet

“Let food be thy medicine” -- Hippocrates

Such is the basis of the yogic diet.  Food becomes medicine by how we eat and what we eat.  Here we will list optimal food choices for the aspiring yogi.  


Some of the guidelines below may seem extreme to many.  However, there is an interesting catch to this, so to speak.  And that is this:  for the practicing yogi, all of this will gradually develop naturally and effortlessly.  The yogi’s cravings tend to disappear on their own.  The occasional glass of wine will begin to taste too bitter for the taste buds.  Meat will no longer be pleasing to the palate..for some it will become undigestable.  And coffee will stimulate the nerves more than the yogi can handle.  Instead, he will choose herbal teas, steamed veggies, fresh fruits and other whole foods, as the resulting effect will be calming and pleasing -- what the yogi is used to feeling.

Yogis follow a pure, sattvic diet.  They believe that what we put into our body determines our personality to much a degree.  Tamasic foods lead to tamasic behavior.  Think about your buddy after he eats a large meat burger, fries and drink to wash it all down -- sluggish, lazy, dull.  Now consider the “type A” personality at work - high on coffee throughout the day, loves super spicy meals, and consumes sugary desserts and treats.  A satvic diet on the other hand contributes to a satvic nature - pure thoughts, relaxed way of working, calm yet alert and clear mind. The satvic diet leads to good digestion, good sleep, and overall good health.


Basic Principles on What to Eat as a Yogi
  • Adopt a vegetarian diet, or reduce intake of meat.  This can be done in steps (i.e. stop red meat first, then chicken, then fish, etc).  The body and mind purifies more deeply on a plant-based diet.

  • Choose to eat whole foods as much as possible in their natural state, with the exception of light cooking which is preferred for many vegetables.  Cooked vegetables digest better.

  • Do not drink any liquids with your meal or after meals for 30 minutes.  Liquids interfere with digestion and lead to gas, bloating, and improper absorption of nutrients.  Small sips of warm water are okay.

  • Buy local.  Buy organic.  Buy non-GMO.  GMO foods are foreign to the body and have no place in the yogic diet.  Purchase produce that is in season as much as possible.

  • Choose fresh, non-homogenized, organic dairy products, preferrably from a local dairy farm where you know what the cows eat and how they are treated.  If you don’t have access to this, make homemade non-dairy milks (such as soy, almond, etc) and choose healthy yogurt and cheese such as non-homogenized sheep or goat milk yogurt and raw, unpasteurized cheeses (readily available at health food stores such as MOM’s and Roots.)

  • Make ghee from quality, organic butter and consume a teaspoon of raw ghee every day.

  • Upon waking, drink a glass of warm water with juice of half lemon to awaken the agni (digestive fire)

  • Eat simple meals.  A bowl of daal can be a satisfying meal.  Don’t depend on elaborate dishes.  The mixing of different food groups is difficult on the digestion system.  We digest proteins and carbs differently - keep these food items separate.

  • Fruit should be consumed alone, not mixed with any other food.  Fruit is digested differently from all other food groups and will cause digestive trouble if mixed.

  • Eat until you’re content, not full.  You’ll notice how light and vibrant you feel all day long once you begin eating this way.

  • Avoid eating after 8pm or at least 3 hours before bedtime.  You should be fully digested before retiring for the night.

  • The practicing yogi will find that stimulants such as caffeine, alcohol, strong spices, sugar, etc become disruptive to meditation practice and hence he avoids them.

  • Let herbal and green tea be the drink of choice.  When dining out, try sparkling water with a lime, easy-on-the-rocks.

  • Look into alternative remedies for healing before jumping for prescription and non-prescription drugs when possible.  When you have the flu, let the body naturally fight the virus, while you rest and drink warm fluids.  Naturopathy, homeopathy, yoga and Ayurveda are astoundingly effective in treating a variety of illnesses.  Be your own doctor first.

  • Have a light but warm, hearty breakfast such as oatmeal, dalia, upma, or fruit and a glass of warm soy milk (add mild spices and honey).  Make lunch your heaviest meal of the day when agni is strongest, such as vegetables and rice or chapati, kichidi, etc.  Have a light, easily digestible meal in the evening such as a large bowl of soup or daal.  Snack can be green tea with dates or dry fruits (preferrably soaked) or fruit.


      Read How to Eat as a Yogi




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