Food & its Benefits
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Food and it's benefits
Effect of Food on the Mind
Food can be categorized according to the effect it has upon man. In India, three broad categories of diet have been given:
pure (satvik) foods, energizing (rajsik) foods, and stupefying (tamsik) foods.
Pure foods – Pure (or satvic) food constitutes the staple diet of a yogi (meditator). It includes fruits, grains, seeds, sprouts, most vegetables, dairy products and a moderate amount of spices and herbs. This diet produces serenity and equipoise, and it is said to keep the head and heart free from all types of impurities.
The energizing foods (or rajsic) food which may be consumed in moderation, and includes coffee, tea, colas, vinegar, spices and includes pepper, condiments, and sour and bitter things. Foods of this type act as stimulants and excite the senses.
Stupefying foods (or tamsic) items include tobacco, alcohol, non-prescription drugs, all meat, fish, fowl, eggs, stale food and also garlic, onions and chives. Such a diet produces inertia. I am often asked about the rationale of not taking even infertile eggs, which some people even label as “vegetarian eggs” Apart from the fact that such an egg represents a form of life which cannot fulfil itself, it has the same undesirable effect on us as a fertile egg. It stupefies the mind and enflames the passions. Taking these factors into view, the saints and sages from time immemorial have followed the pure diet because it is most helpful for spiritual advancement.
Ordinarily onions and garlics are recommended to non-vegetarians as blood purifiers and to help counteract the build-up of harmful animal fat and cholesterol. However, the healthy vegetarian is not in need of such protection and a spiritually sensitive meditator will be aware that they (onions and garlic) tend to arouse anxiety and irritation, passions which reduce serenity and peace of mind.
In addition to being careful about what type of food we eat we should also be careful about how much we eat. The basic principle with regard to food is, “Eat to live, not live to eat. “Unfortunately, most of us live to eat – and over eat. When we are given a new or delicious dish, we overeat. And sometimes, to show someone that we appreciate his hospitality, we overeat. But overeating is the cause of many of our health problems, and some of meditation problems as well. The Persian mystic Sheik Saadi has said that because we are filled up to our noses with food we are not able to see the Light of God. He advised that the stomach be divided into four compartments: two for filling with simple food: one for water, while reserving one for the Light of God.
The purer the diet, the more the emotions remain in a state of equilibrium, bringing tranquility to the consciousness and greater clarity to the mind and intellect.
And beware: as tasty as they are, curries can be dangerously addictive. Because of their pain-killing properties, curries release endorphins, or ‘feel good hormones’ in the brain, which when combined with the sensory reaction to the spices in the dish, produce a natural high. As with all highs – you only want a bigger hit next time – and the curry addict moves on from the mild korma to spicier, hotter foods. Only when you reach the tindaloo will you realise that you’ve gone too far and need a stint in rehab to cool off.
The last thing you’d fancy eating on a first date might be garlic and onions for obvious reasons, but they are in fact the most unlikely of all aphrodisiacs. Their properties are said to ‘inflame the baser passions’ and are even banned by some Hindu sects. A herb called fenugreek not only apparently cures impotence, it’s also been used as an aphrodisiac for hundreds of years.
And finally: curries are good for you, it’s official. Salicylic acid, the active ingredient in aspirin, occurs naturally in Indian food and can help treat migraines and prevent colon cancers. Tumeric is also said to help prevent Alzheimer’s Disease. What better excuse to start tucking in?
Curries taste better on the day after it is cooked. When eaten on the day the various spices taste as if they are competing with each other to draw attention to their own particular flavour particularly the chillies. The next day the chillies harmonise more with the other spices in the dish giving a rounded full flavour.
Eat curries with more rice rather than in the same portion as the curry