Food for a Better Mood
Updated: Jan 27, 2021
Richard C (name changed) used to be a bright person who was doing quite well in life. An emotional setback raised his stress and anxiety levels which he found extremely difficult to cope with and took to binge eating. He started drinking more cola, ate lots of processed foods such as chocolates, junk food, frozen foods and loads of ice cream. All these foods gave him a temporary sense of satiation and relief but made things worse for his mental and physical health with time. Richard started to experience hopelessness, a sense of darkness in his mind, a sense of purposelessness. His sense of motivation and enthusiasm for life started to diminish. His social life was deeply hampered. He would not venture out of his home for days at an end. He even gained weight. When he met me for issues related to his digestive health, he did express and share the other issues he was suffering from. His family Doctor was helpful to a certain degree in pacifying some of his problems but the root cause was still to be taken care of.
" The body is the result of Food. Disease is the result of Food, the difference between ease and disease is the intake of wholesome nutrition or the lack of it "
I shared with Richard that the food that one eats has a deep impact on one’s being. When you eat a banana, the enzymes begin their work in the digestive system and convert the banana into nutrition that your body uses to survive and thrive. If seen in a particular way, the Banana becomes “You”. The better the quality of the banana ie organically grown and unprocessed, the better the quality of nutrition you will give to your body.
Fast food, junk food and drinks ie carbonated canned beverages don't have any positive life-giving or life-enhancing energy and adversely affect the whole system.
The food that we eat not only has an effect on the quality of all our cells and bodily functions but also has a deep impact on our mind.
Ayurveda*, the sister of Yoga as well as Yogic philosophy states that food is of three types or Qualities ie Sāttvic ( pure light, having vitality), Tāmasic ( darkness, inertia) and Rājasic (activity, passion). All these three qualities in appropriate proportions are necessary to survive, get things done and accomplish things in life. Ideally, it is preferred to consume a mostly sāttvic diet.
I advised Richard that a change in his diet would also support his initiatives to heal and to take appropriate advice from a mental health professional for his emotional and mental issues. I shared with him that he was going through is what is known as a state of Tamas. The word “Tamas” in Ayurveda and Yogic philosophy means darkness, inertia, and dullness. In balance, the quality of Tamas helps us with restfulness, stillness, and sleepiness. Excessive intake of tāmasic foods may make a person experience a sense of heaviness, a state of darkness in the mind sluggishness, fatigue and makes people want to sleep too much. It also makes people prone to lethargy, which makes them feel a lack of purpose, which may lead to depression and other imbalances in mental and physical health including digestive and other problems. Tāmasic foods are mostly cold, heavy and can be difficult to digest. Some of the examples of tāmasic foods are ice creams, intake of chilled and iced water ( it's even worse to take it immediately after a meal ), Cola beverages, frozen and ready to eat foods, stale foods ( kept for more than 24 hours), white sugar, artificial sweeteners, mushrooms, etc. The more a person eats tāmasic foods, the more likely s/he is prone to inviting the qualities of tamas in him/her.
I suggested to Richard to shift to a Sāttvic Diet.
The term Sattva means “ pure, essential, natural, vital, energy-containing, clean, conscious, true and wise”. The consumption of Sāttvic food promotes the qualities of clarity, purity, lightness in us. Sattva is the opposite of Tamas. Sattva promotes the feeling of one being peaceful, vibrant, joyful, grounded and aids in spiritual growth. The Sāttvic foods aid in one having the qualities of clarity, alertness, attentiveness, understanding, purity, compassion and cooperation.
Richard was desperate to change his life around by turning a new leaf. He was tired of living the way he was living. He started making changes to his lifestyle with my encouragement, hand-holding, and support. He even started to cook meals for himself under my guidance, spent more time in nature and dedicated time and effort for exercising. In a short time, he started seeing positive changes in his life. He finally started to experience a sense of greater awareness, clarity, lightness and a deep positivity, lost his excess weight and healed his digestive issues as well.
Here is a partial list of some of the foods that I suggested Richard which can help invoke the Sāttvic quality. In all cases, the assumption is Non-GMO and Organic :
Sāttvic Food List :
Beans and Legumes: Adzuki Beans, Alfalfa Sprouts, Chick Pea (Garbanzo), Lima Beans, Mung Beans, Red Lentils (Masoor Dal), Soy Beans, Sweet Peas.
Fruits: Apple (cooked), Apple (raw), Apricot (dried), Banana, Cherry, Cranberry, Dates, Figs, Grapefruit, Lime, Mango, Orange, Papaya, Peaches, Pears, Pomegranate, Raspberry, Strawberries, Watermelon.
Spices: Most mild spices ie Basil, Cardamom, Cilantro, Cinnamon, Cloves, Coriander Seed, Cumin, Fennel Seeds, Parsley (Fresh) and Turmeric
Grains: Most whole grains including Quinoa, Barley, Wild Rice, various kinds of Rice, Brown Basmati Rice, Risotto, Sorghum , Spelt and Wheat.
Greens and vegetables: Most greens and vegetables including Asparagus, Bottle Gourd, Brussels sprouts, Butternut Squash, Fennel Stalk, Leeks, Okra, Summer Squash, Sweet Potato, Zucchini, Arugula, Bean Sprouts, Beet Greens, Celery Stalk, Chickweed, Lettuce, Collard Greens, Dandelion Leaves, Endive, Kale, Red Leaf Lettuce, Romaine Lettuce, Stinging Nettles, Watercress.
In furtherance to the above, the following few suggestions can also be very useful :
a) Do not drink cold or iced water. Don’t drink any water after meals for at least 1 hour. Some warm water 20 minutes before meals is wonderful as this aids digestion.
b) Do not consume ice cream. One may consume dried fruit such as raisins or dates add them to sweeten beverages such as fresh homemade smoothies, home-baked cakes, etc ( take in moderation).
c) Do not consume frozen meals ie ready to eat meals
d) Overeating of all foods ie even Sāttvic foods can also lead to tamas like qualities ie dullness, sluggishness, etc.
e) As much as possible, take food as freshly prepared as possible. Do not eat stale food which has been cooked and stored for more than 24 hours.
*Ayurveda is one of the oldest systems of traditional natural healing in the world. Also known as the sister of Yoga, it stresses deeply on nutrition and lifestyle for optimal health. Ayurveda believes that there are three bio energies ie Vata ( Air and Ether Elements), Pitta ( Fire and Water ) and Kapha ( Earth and Water) within the body and their balance or imbalance determines the state of good or ill health .