HT Image
HT Image

Soul food

Feeling rather angst-ridden? It could be what you eat. Switch to a satvik diet for a change, suggests Ruchira Hoon.
Hindustan Times | By Ruchira Hoon, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JUL 01, 2008 03:59 PM IST

Anushka Mehta just felt angry all the time. She was angry when she missed her ride to office, angry when she didn't get to eat what she wanted, angry that she couldn't complete that office project on time and angry at herself for being so angst-ridden at all times. "I would wake up feeling livid and even at the end of the day I'd feel exactly the same way. It was as if I was trapped in a vicious cycle," says this 29-year-old marketing executive.

"I went for anger management sessions, tried to talk to counsellors and even sought the help of my friends (as many as I had left) to deal with my temper. But nothing helped." Until her mother mildly suggested that perhaps it was her diet and lifestyle that was taking a toll on her.

A big foodie, Anushka loved her food spicy and couldn't eat a single meal without some sort of non-vegetarian dish and refused to drink a drop of milk. "And as always, mom was right. It was my food habits that were set ting off my emotional triggers," she says. "So a change in lifestyle was a must and after consulting an Ayurvedic doctor as well as a nutritionist I decided to switch to a satvik diet."

No fad diet
It's the food of the Gods – Ram, Krishna and even Mahatma Gandhi and Osho were followers of satvik food. In fact, in his books, Osho has said, "Our wrong attitudes towards food are becoming dangerous for us. They are proving to be very costly. They have taken us to a point where we are somehow just alive. Our food does not seem to create health in us, it seems to create sickness." Which is what satvik khana tackles.

Satvik food isn't yet another brand new fad diet; it's a way of life that has been there since the time of the Hindu scriptures. And according to Ayurveda, it has been described as food that is vegetarian (sans onion and garlic as they produce heat and are aphrodisiacs as well), simple and easily digestible. Basic and cooked in minimal heat, it is eaten fresh, immediately after it is made.

"Food that encourages peaceful energy within the person is known as satvik food," says nutritionist and Brunch columnist Dr Shikha Sharma. "Ayurveda has recorded the fact that different items of food have a direct impact on your body mind as well as , your emotional well-being. Satvik food helps control the emotions of a person and make him more relaxed."

So what exactly does satvik food include?
Here's a list:
All vegetables except onions and garlic. Fruits, milk and milk prod ucts can be consumed in their nat ural and near-natural forms.
Common spices like ginger, turmeric, coriander, car damom, cinnamon, and aniseed are strongly recommended.
No red chillies. Black pepper and other pungent and astringent spices should also be avoided.
Cows' milk is consid ered to be the purest satvik food as well as the most complete and nourishing of foods.

It's not hard to incorporate satvik food in today's lifestyle and Dr Sharma adds that it's simpler than it sounds. "You can't live on a diet of butter chicken and beer most of the time; that's when you will show your worst side. These things heat in the body which in turn play havoc with , your emotions," she says. "You can always balance your life by eating satvik food three times a week as well as include a bit in your daily diet."

For example, she says, eat a cup of yogurt with heavy curries for lunch. Go easy on dinner with soup and salad. Or have a meal of simple roti and dal – it's all satvik, very wholesome and helps calm all parts of the body .

Spiritual connection
Ideally satvik food helps a person stay , focussed at work and provides a lot of energy. The various sensory organs of the body remain unaffected for a long period of time, which is why a person eating satvik khana rarely falls ill and if he does, recovers quickly.

"Satvik diet promotes a general sense of calm and therefore a person is not easily provoked, neither is he very aggressive," says Ayurvedic specialist and yogsadhak Dr Ajay Tomar. "The mind, body and soul are at ease and at peace when a person is on such a diet. And if a person is at peace, he in turn will look for knowledge and veer towards spirituality ."

Which is why most Ayurveds and yoga gurus often recommend that older people who, on the verge of retirement, need to learn to calm their souls, should be on a satvik diet. "While I do indulge in meat a couple of days in a week, I try and balance it out with eating satvik food for the rest of the days," says retired professor Surinder Sharma. "I feel lighter and far more composed than when I used to completely binge on non-vegetarian food."

As more and people are embracing vegetarianism, it's no surprise then, that satvik khana is gaining momentum in people's lives as well. While most of us live to eat, there comes a point in our lives when we need to listen to our bodies as well. "Because if you don't, chances are you'll stay ill tempered for the rest of your life," laughs Anushka.

G Management; Location Courtesy: Cafe Satvik, Select Citywalk Mall

Story Saved