Meditation Diet: 10 Tips on How to Eat Well for Meditation
Meditation Diet 101
“One’s diet should consist of foods which are easily converted into energy.” – Yogananda
Our diet has such a huge impact on our state of mind. Yet many people are completely out of touch with the effect that food has on their wellbeing. We eat whatever is convenient or delicious, without thinking much about how it affects us.
But as you meditate, you become more in tune with how you feel. As a result you’re more conscious of what foods to eat, and what to avoid. You notice that certain foods makes you feel light and happy, and other foods make you feel heavy and depressed.
If we want to go deeper in meditation, and make true spiritual progress, we should try to eat foods that are beneficial for meditation.
So here are my top 10 tips on how to build an ideal meditation diet. I’ve also included a short list of healthy meals at the bottom.
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Meditation Diet Tip #1 - See food as energy
The most important aspect of your meditation diet is that you begin to see food as energy. Before eating, consider whether this food contains the vital life force that you need. Some foods are full of energy, and others tend to dull the mind.
As you meditate, you’ll become more sensitive to what makes you feel good, and what brings you down.
How do you feel after eating a huge pizza or fried chicken? And how do you feel after eating a healthy salad and some fruit?
I find with the fast food, I feel dirty, greasy…like I need a shower. And with the healthy food, I’m more relaxed, and feel clean; I also feel energized.
The more we can see food as energy, the more we’ll make wise choices in our diet. But it’s hard when we’ve spent our lives eating for the sake of eating. Try to see that everything you eat has an effect on your body, mind, and spirit
Tip #2 -Be aware of the three gunas
In Ayurvedic tradition, there are three groups of food called gunas. The three gunas (or qualities) are tamas, rajas, and sattwa.
Tamasic foods lower our consciousness and make us moody, negative, and dull-minded. This category includes alcohol, canned, processed, or deep-fried foods, very spicy food, and blue cheese. These foods have no energy to give us. We should try to avoid it as much as possible.
Rajasic foods are “activating” foods. These foods lead to activity, meaning they increase restlessness, anxiety, and impulsiveness. Examples of tamasic foods are coffee, spicy foods, soft drinks, sugar, red meat, some fruits, onions, garlic, and eggs. Rajasic foods are not necessarily bad and they can lead to ambition and curiosity. But we should watch our intake to avoid restlessness, and they are not great for meditation.
Sattwic foods are those that are full of life force, and that give us strength, energy, and joy. These foods increase our sense of peace, and make us more intelligent, creative, and expansive. This category includes fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
Tip #3 -Eat raw and lightly cooked foods
Cooking food takes the energy out of it. A raw carrot has much more to give you than a carrot that has been roasting in the oven for an hour.
So try to eat raw foods where you can, and when you do need to cook food, cook it very lightly to keep some of its life force.
Steaming vegetables for a few minutes is much better than boiling or baking.
When you boil broccoli, the water goes green and we wave goodbye to those nutrients. It is much better to steam broccoli so it’s a little soft before you eat it, but still has a crunch.
Tip# 4 - Drink fresh blended juices
Juicing is a great way to get loads of high-energy foods into your system at once.
It has also become more and more popular as a result of its many benefits: weight loss, higher energy levels, better brain function, stronger immune system, and healthier appearance.
The body absorbs the nutrients quickly so they don’t need to be broken down. Try this for a few days and see how you feel and how it affects your meditation.
One of my favorite recipes is orange, apple, carrot, spinach, cucumber, celery, and ginger. You can put it all in a blender mixed with water, or you can put it all through a juicer. I prefer to blend it so you keep some of the fiber. Try to have mostly vegetables with a little fruit for sweetness.
Meditation Diet Tip #5 - Try fasting
Intermittent fasting is a powerful tool for many reasons:
- It has numerous health benefits
- It can promote weight loss
- It can change our relationship with food
- It helps us eat less throughout the week
- It helps us to feel lighter and more energized
- It cleans out toxins from the body
All this has a very positive impact upon our meditation practice because the mind becomes more relaxed.
There are many different ways you can fast.
You could start off with a fast where you only eat a small meal or two within a few hours. Then fast for the rest of the day, so you’re fasting for about 20 hours and eating for 4 hours of the day.
Or you could try a juice fast where you only eat fresh fruit and vegetable juices for a whole day. You could also have a soup in the evening, as long as it is just fruits or vegetables.
When you are ready, you might want to try a whole day with only water. This is challenging though so build your way up. Muslims do this for the whole month of Ramadan from sunrise to sunset. From what I have heard, the first day or two are hard, but then you get used to it and it becomes easier.
Tip #6 -Avoid meat
One of the key factors of a meditation diet is that we try our best to avoid meat. Do you notice how so many people who are on the spiritual path begin to avoid meat? Why is that?
One reason among many is that they come to feel the true effects that meat has on their bodies and minds. We get more in touch with our state of wellbeing when we meditate consistently.
Remember, everything is energy. Imagine what kind of energy is inside an animal that was tortured for life, and then killed inhumanely. This is not the place for going into detail about how much suffering these animals endure. But suffice to say that a lifetime of torture is an understatement.
What happens when you eat the energy of that cow, or that pig? The deep fear that the animal felt, the anger, the suffering; you eat all of that. That becomes you. That becomes yours.
So carefully consider your intake of meat. It has so many negative effects upon your body and mind, you would not believe.
If you do eat meat, I recommend reducing to only chicken and fish, then only fish, (here is a great post about healthy fish). Eventually, try to move to a vegetarian diet. Vegetarianism has a huge impact upon your wellbeing and upon this world.
Finally, animals are loving, feeling, living beings – they are not food.
Tip #7 - Reduce Sugar intake
Our diets contain so much sugar. Sugar has an activating (rajasic) effect on consciousness so it acts as a mild stimulant. It prevents inner peace as a result. Sugar also causes many physical problems like tooth decay, weight gain and obesity.
Some of the best ways to cut out sugar is by removing these from your diet, one by one:
- Soft drinks
- Alcoholic beverages, especially sweet ones
I don’t think it’s necessary to completely eliminate sugar from your life. But it is definitely wise to reduce it as much as possible. Check out this post on how much sugar is too much.
Sugar is also very addictive and also toxic so it might be worth considering eliminating sugar for a short time to cleanse the body.
Most of all, try to be a little moderate. Try to eat a little bit less sugar in your daily diet and remove those things that cause the most harm.
Tip #8 - Spiritualize cooking and eating
There have been experiments where people take two plants, shout at and “bully” one of them, and be kind and say positive things to the other.
It seems that there is a significant difference in the way these two plants grow. You may think this is very woo-woo or new age, but I totally get this. Plants do seem to have some form of consciousness.
If I shouted at a child every day and told him how worthless he is, that child would not be able to grow, to flourish, or to give. And what if I praised that child, gave him love and appreciation. He would be able to achieve his potential and help others.
The way that we prepare our meal is very important. Try to cook slowly and with joy. Don’t rush around in a panic. Relax and cook with love. Then the things that you eat will be more able to give you their nutrients.
You could also say a prayer before you eat. This is a powerful thing to do. If this is strange for you, you could take a moment to feel grateful for the food. Feel appreciation for all the energy and labor that went into bringing this food onto your plate.
If you cook and eat with love, that energy will be more present within you once you have eaten your meal.
Tip #9 - Don’t expect perfection
If we have formed eating habits over many years, they don’t go away overnight. Try to understand this point.
It takes time, practice, and experimentation to figure out ways to improve your diet. Start by making small changes – eliminate one kind of food and introduce a new kind.
Remember what Mark Twain said:
A habit cannot be tossed out the window. It has to be led down the stairs one step at a time.
So go easy on yourself and take it one step at a time. Small, permanent changes are much better than radical, short-lived ones.
Create long term as well as short-term goals. If your ultimate goal is to become a vegetarian, start by eliminating beef, then pork, lamb and so on.
If you want to eat whole grains, start with one type. No need to buy all the buckwheat, millet, and barley you can find in the organic store.
Tip #10 -Write a list of favorite meals
When we run out of ideas, we tend to go back to old patterns and to what we know. So it’s wise to have a list of meals that you can put on your fridge.
Write a list of high-energy meals that you enjoy so you can plan your shopping.
Below is a quick list of general ideas with an example of each type of meal. But there are so many more amazing and delicious variations of each of the meals.
Get creative, but also, remember to keep it simple. We don’t need a whole new menu every week. In fact, you can eat many of the same meals every week if you enjoy them.
Using these 10 tips, try to make some changes to your diet today.
I find that it can be a two steps forward, one step back situation. But over time, your diet gets better and better as you remove negative foods and begin to eat more healthily.
When you eat well, you will find many things start to happen:
- You are able to meditate more deeply
- You are able to meditate more consistently
- You have more energy throughout the day
- You feel less lethargic
- You have more clarity and wisdom
- You feel happier and more peaceful
- You can be more present throughout the day
There are many more benefits of course for your body, mind, and soul. You will find that every area of your life will begin to improve if you can learn to eat well. It really is worth investing the time and effort now.
And remember it doesn’t have to be perfect. As long as you are aware and making changes, then you are growing.
So what can you change today? What can you eliminate from your diet? What can you add? Leave a comment below and tell me what you are going to change in your diet today.
And get involved in the 5-day challenge. It is really fun 🙂
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