A diet that is wholly conductive to the practice of Yoga and spiritual progress is called Yogic diet. Diet has intimate connection with the mind. Mind is formed out of the subtlest portion of food.
Diet is of three kinds viz, Sattvic diet, Rajasic diet and Tamasic diet. Milk, barely, wheat, cereals, butter, cheese, tomatoes, honey, dates, fruits, almonds and sugar-candy are all Sattvic foodstuffs. They render the mind pure and calm. Fish, eggs, meat, salt, chillies and asafoetida are Rajasic foodstuffs. They excite passion. Beef, wine, garlic, onions and tobacco are Tamasic foodstuffs. They fill mind with anger, darkness and inertia.
A yogic diet ideally follows a satwic or pure food diet. A balance of fresh fruit, vegetables, cooked whole grains, milk, legumes, nuts and seeds, using a combination of both raw and cooked foods. These foods increase sattwa in the body because they are light, simple and supply all the necessary nutrients. They increase our physical and mental vitality making it easier to experience clarity, lightness and peace of mind. Rajasic foods are prepared with much oil and spice. They create heaviness and restlessness mind. Meat and fish are classified under these. Onion and garlic are also under this group as they increase desire. Tamasic foods are foods that are old and stale. They lower the energy and cause laziness. They include foods that are not cooked properly or chewed well and processed foods. Stale, processed and frozen foods have lost their pranic energy. If we try to eat only sattwic foods as much possible we can slowly change the body chemistry, renewing the digestive system and taking away any strain. Ideally we should eat foods that take minimum energy to digest, so that the remaining energy can be used for more productive uses.
When eating it is important to fill the stomach hall full with food. A quarter should be left for water or liquids. The last quarter should be left empty for digestion to take place. This space is necessary for the stomach to churn the food with the digestive juices.
The digestive system is one of the most important systems in the body and links all the other systems together. A poor digestive system is the core problem to many health conditions. It is affected not just by what we are eat but also by our emotions. An awareness of digestive process and the choice we make in eating can help to achieve both physical and mental balance, bringing peace and wee being.