Although diet plays a very significant role in one's overall wellbeing, it is just one link in a whole chain of wellbeing elements. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link - paying attention to correct diet is crucial, but optimal wellbeing comes from attending to all the links in a balanced way. The elements of wellbeing, as proposed by proponents of Natural Hygiene, are (the first ten are crucial, the rest are in no particular order):
The ideal diet is one that keeps an individual in the best possible health to support their whole lifestyle and spiritual development (we cannot 'eat' our way to 'God' but we can certainly use our diets to support that journey!). The most healthful diet is one that is predominantly raw, fresh, natural, whole (ie. no processed foods) and organic if possible. So this would include abundant fruits and vegetables, some nuts and seeds, whole grains and pulses, and some people may choose to include some animal products (meat, fish, eggs, honey, raw/unpasteurised dairy). The proportions will depend entirely on the individual's needs, circumstances and goals. What one eliminates can be as important as what one includes - minimising (and eventually eliminating!) cooking, sugar, grains and their products (especially gluten-grains), table salt, alcohol, pasteurised dairy products and all processed food will speed the journey to health.
An excellent way to start getting more in tune with your particular needs as an individual is through Ayurveda. Although Ayurveda recommends the use of cooking, grains and dairy, these can easily be eliminated whilst still applying the basic Ayurvedic principles to one's diet and lifestyle.
Ayurveda is based on the Tridosha system, whereby the five basic elements of creation – ether, air, fire, water and earth – manifest in the human psychosomatic complex as three dosha essences – pitta, vata and kapha. We are born as a combination of all three and our constitutional dosha is determined by their ratio. Health and wellbeing are determined and maintained by keeping your doshas in balance according to your constitutional dosha, through dosha-appropriate diet and lifestyle choices.
Ayurveda, as part of the science of yoga, teaches us to eat primarily sattvic foods, which purify and create harmony, calm and balance in the body-mind-spirit complex. According to the Bhagavad-Gita XVII.8, sattvic food is 'juicy, rich, nourishing and agreeable, and promotes health, longevity, goodness, strength, happiness and pleasure'.
Sattvic food is defined as pure, fresh, natural, whole and nourishing. These include fresh fruits, greens and vegetables, nuts and seeds, grains, pulses, sprouts, milk (pure, organic, unpasteurised), ghee and raw honey.
Yogis perceive pure, raw foods such as fruits, vegetables, seeds (sprouted), herbs and roots, as vital carriers for the energy of Prana (the ‘life force’) in the body. To eat a piece of food that is ‘alive’ with Prana will bring the most nourishment on all levels. Foods should be eaten in their pure and natural state (i.e raw) where possible. Canned, frozen, leftover, processed, stale and overly cooked foods are devoid of Prana.
Bronwen regularly runs Introductory workshops on Ayurveda. See the Events page for details of any upcoming courses.
On the Links page, there are links to raw vegan websites. An interesting book to read which covers the spiritual aspects of nutrition, as well as the practical aspects of raw veganism and Ayurveda is "Spiritual Nutrition" by Gabriel Cousens.
“Everyone has a doctor in him or her; we just have to help it in its work. The natural healing force within each of us is the greatest force in getting well. Our food should be our medicine. Our medicine should be our food. But to eat when you are sick, is to feed your sickness.”
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