Vegetarian diet. Nutritional facts. The benefits of right diet in yogic life

One of the main reasons why vegetarian diet is preferred and suggested for leading a yogic life is it has calm and soothing effect unlike non-vegetarian spicy foods that act more as stimulant. Food has a deep connection with our thoughts and what you eat can directly impact your mind. This could be supported both by modern science as well as traditional practice of Yoga. Our brain and gastrointestinal (GI) tract are intimately connected by what is known as gut-brain axis through which the two interact. Just like strong emotions – nervousness, fear, surprise, happiness can be felt in the gut (ever heard of butterflies in the stomach?), eating healthy food can make your gut bacteria happy and the same gets conveyed to the brain which in turn secrete happy hormones. Vegetarian diet is part of satvik diet and eating it supplies the right nutrients – vitamins, minerals, calcium, antioxidants to the body and the brain.


What is a satvic diet and why it suits the yogic way of life

In Yogic way of life, Satvic diet is given a lot of importance as it purifies the body and the mind and prepares them to go deeper in the practice. Fresh and seasonal fruits, vegetables, whole grains, milk, nuts and seeds, beans and legumes all are regarded as essential components of a satvik diet. They are loaded with nutrients needed by the body.

What are rajasic and tamasic foods

There are two other categories of food as per the ancient practice that are not regarded as fit for yogic way of life – rajasic and tamasic foods. Not all herbs and vegetables fall in satvik diet and some fall out of this category. Eggs, onion, garlic, eggplant, radish, tomato, refined sugar, tea and coffee, cigarette, spicy and salty foods, junk foods are part of a rajasic diet which may fill you with energy soon after eating, but soon depletes it and you end up feeling low. Tamasic foods are not recommended for a Yogi as they make you dull, disconnected from self and lethargic. Mushroom, onion, garlic, potatoes, stale foods, overripe foods, unripe foods, burnt food, frozen foods, alcohol, drugs are some of the tamasic foods which should be avoided by those keen on pursuing Yoga and seek a bigger purpose in life.

What is a vegetarian diet and what are its benefits

Plant-based foods like vegetables and fruits form the core of vegetarian diet along with dairy products like milk, curd, paneer among others. Vegetarian diet is different from a vegan diet where only plant-based foods are eaten and dairy products like milk, cheese and paneer are skipped. People following vegan diet go for dairy substitutes like almond milk, soy milk, tofu etc.

Vegetarian diet is increasingly becoming common across the globe due to its many benefits for heart health, diabetes and also certain kinds of cancer. However, ready-to-eat vegetarian foods with too much sugar or salt, saturated fats or deep fried veg foods are not beneficial for health and could do damage to heart and increase risk of various chronic diseases.

Recommended vegetarian foods every day

Vegetables: Green leafy vegetables, cauliflower, cabbage, spinach, carrot, broccoli, green peas, capsicum, beetroot, bitter gourd, corn
Fruits: Apple, banana, mango, blueberry, strawberry, oranges, guava, watermelon, muskmelon, chiku, kiwi, avocado Dairy: Milk, curd, paneer, cheese, yoghurt, ghee
Whole grains: Oats, quinoa, brown rice, ragi, amaranth, buckwheat, corn, sorghum, millets
Proteins: Quinoa, lentils, beans, paneer, hummus, cheese, nuts and seeds

Nutritional facts about vegetarian diet

To get the most out of vegetarian diet, it is important to add a variety of fruits and vegetables, legumes, wholegrains to your diet to get a wide range of good quality nutrients in order to keep your heart health, brain health, hormone health and overall well-being in top shape.

Nutrition experts recommend adding loads of colours to the plate to extend the ambit of nutrients you get from your food. Beetroot, tomatoes, apples, oranges, strawberry, cranberry, bell pepper, grapes, ridge gourd, kiwi, pineapple, jamun are all the wonderful colourful fruits and vegetables you should be adding to your diet regularly.

Vegetables can add the much-needed fibre to the diet for easing out the digestion process and preventing issues like constipation. Fresh fruits and vegetables are always better than canned. Vegetables and fruits should not be consumed too late once they are peeled and chopped. Freshly cooked veggies should be consumed within few hours to retain their nutritional profile and satvik guna.

Eat more wholegrain

Not all vegetarian foods bring equal benefits. While potato, cereal, rice are high on starch, spinach, broccoli and mustard have a richer nutrient profile with more calcium, iron, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Magnesium among others. One should include wholegrain more while starchy foods should be added in a balanced way.

Dairy products

When you are eating a vegetarian diet, it’s important to choose the right dairy products to ensure getting enough protein, calcium, Vitamin A, Vitamin B12 among other nutrients. Consuming the low-fat version of milk, curd, paneer can help limit consumption of fat.

Lentils and pulses

Another important source of protein in your everyday diet can be lentils and pulses like rajma, chickpeas, black gram, urad dal, chana dal, arhar dal, moong dal, sprouted lentils to get the right amount of protein needed to build new cells and maintain the existing ones.

Lentils and pulses

Nuts and seeds like almonds, pistachio, cashew nut, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds are storehouse of healthy fats, protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals and must be added to your daily diet.

Vegetarian foods to avoid

Here’s a list of vegetarian foods and their combinations that must be avoided to keep chronic diseases away.

  • Veggie burger
  • Veg pizza
  • Aloo Samosa
  • Aloo bonda
  • Veg Chowmein
  • Tea and Coffee
  • Deep-fried pakora
  • Cheese sandwich
  • Veg spring roll

Food combinations to avoid

  • Banana and milk
  • Sandwich and cold coffee
  • Milk and melons
  • Grains and fruits
  • Beans and eggs
  • Poha and chai
  • Yoghurt with fruit
  • Honey and radish
  • Juice and dalia

It is said that you are what you eat and what you eat is how you think. Your diet not only builds your physical health but also has great influence on your mind and mental health. It is therefore important that we choose our food mindfully. A satvic diet goes long way in keeping body and mind healthy.