–Narrotam Priya Das, ISKON, Bhiwandi
The ongoing COVID Pandemic has majorly disrupted the personal and professional lifestyles of people around the globe. While companies and businesses were forced to adapt and embrace digitization, on the personal front, people are forced to reinvestigate their lifestyle choices and move to healthier ways of life. From working out at home, meditating or indulging in hobbies, to reinventing their food choices and eating routines, also marked an important shift in the popular mindset. As the virus put a spotlight on building immunity for best defense against the fatal disease, and the urgent need to address the emotional and mental distress caused by the global crisis, the age-old wisdom of spiritual scriptures, healthy food, and home remedies and medicines from the kitchen, began gaining significance.
However, beyond physical health and immunity-boosting properties, a person’s disposition is reflected in the food choices they make. For centuries, sages, spiritual seekers, seers, yoga practitioners and Ayurveda experts have hailed Sattvik foods – essentially foods devoid of onions and garlic, as wholesome and nourishing. These include grains, pulses, beans, fruits, vegetables, milk, and other vegetarian foods, which are conducive to spiritual life.
As Lord Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 17, verse 8), “Foods dear to those in the mode of goodness increase the duration of life, purify one’s existence and give strength, health, happiness and satisfaction. Such foods are juicy, fatty, wholesome, and pleasing to the heart.”
However, the essence of Sattvik food lies not only in the ingredients or the process of cooking, but really in the fact that it is food offered, with reverence and devotion, to the Gods, and are then consumed as prasadam or blessing. The very act of offering it to the almighty and then consuming it, transforms the energy and quality of the food, making it sacred.
Decoding the key features of Sattvik food, as under:
- Fresh Ingredients: One of the most basic characteristics of Sattvik diet, is the use of fresh ingredients that are cooked on a daily basis. Overcooked or stale food or food prepared from stale ingredients, or use of onion and garlic, has no place in the Sattvik food lifestyle and is often considered “Tamasic” or destructive. Further, only limited quantities of food is cooked at a given time, just before consumption, to avoid wastage. As a result, a large chunk of processed and fast food is dropped off the list, thus helping cut down on the excess consumption of salt or harmful preservatives. This very basic shift, from pre-cooked or overcooked, salty and spicy meals to simpler meals cooked with fresh ingredients, makes a whole lot of difference in the quality of food and its nourishment value.
- Rich in Fibre: With a focus on organic, unpolished, and whole grain carbohydrates, Sattvik food choices involve the consumption of a lot of multi-grain recipes that are made using locally sourced produce, and are thus rich in fibre and overall nutrition. Refined carbs and sugars, which are considered one of the major contributor’s metabolic disorders and obesity related lifestyle diseases, are replaced with healthy multi-grain options with complex carbs. This shift not only offers a plethora of delicious meal recipes interwoven with the traditional wisdom of the sages, it also provide better satiety and help in reducing weight, improving bowel movement, and encourage mindful eating.
- Balanced Nutrition: Sattvik diet is a completely balanced diet designed to nourish the mind and the body, with purest ingredients and healthy eating habits. It is also one that can be customised to best suit a person’s existing metabolic state and help them to heal, and regain balance and health. This includes consumption of a variety of fruits, nuts, seeds, and oils, vegetables, legumes and beans, pulses, whole grains and spices, to in the perfect combination, so as to provide holistic wellbeing and health benefits.
- Mood and Energy Booster: Sattvik food has been proven to act as an effective energy and mood booster, helping combat depressive, stressful or negative thought processes and create an overall energetic, happy, and peaceful demeanour. And while whole grains, fresh vegetables, reduced use of refined sugar, and an overall energetic lifestyle, contribute to a positive outlook to life, Sattvik foods become a catalyst for spiritual growth when it is offered to the Gods and consumed with a sense of devotion and reverence, thus transforming the mental and spiritual quality of the person.
In contrast to the above tenets of Sattvik food, when food is cooked with excessive spices, sugar, salt, etc., they bring an intense flavour that is either very bitter, very sour, very salty, very hot, very pungent, very dry, and become rājasic in nature. Consuming such food on a regular basis can lead to ill-health, agitation, and despair. About this, Lord Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 17, verse 9) states that “Foods that are too bitter, too sour, salty, hot, pungent, dry, and burning are dear to those in the mode of passion. Such foods cause distress, misery, and disease.”
Ultimately, sattvik diet, when consumed on a regular basis, has been known to help one elevate themselves to a higher state of conscious life, and gain a better understanding and build faith and cultivate peace – qualities that are crucial in today’s environment of volatility, uncertainty, chaos, and disease! With death and destruction everywhere, aiming for a higher consciousness, an achieving a wholesome sense of wellbeing, is vital. Adopting a Sattvik lifestyle can help build immunity and longevity for the body, build faith and positivity and spread hope and happiness to everyone around!