Decoding Mitahara: The Discipline Of Eating Fresh, Light And Pleasant Foods

(MENAFN- Khaleej Times) Published: Thu 13 Jun 2024, 8:42 PM

“If you are what you eat, I only want the good stuff.” You may have heard this sassy dialogue from Remy the little rat-chef in the Disney Pixar blockbuster Ratatouille. Sassy yes, but packs in truth bombs. Nutrients from the foods we eat do provide the foundation for the structure, function and wholeness of every little cell in our body, from the skin and hair to the muscles, bones, digestive and immune systems. We may not realise it, but we're constantly repairing, healing and rebuilding our body, through what we consume.

Health experts have been stressing on the fact that nutrients in our food fuel our body, and apart from building and strengthening bones, muscles and other body tissues, they also impact our mood. What we eat matters, but little do we know that how we eat, matters too.

The way food must be consumed has been a part of the ancient yogic philosophy since time immemorial, and is once again gaining its much-deserved importance.

The practice of yoga doesn't end with physical exercise and breathwork, it goes on to each area of life, one of them being food consumption. Yogis who adopted a sattvic diet, implementing the principle of Mitahara, are prime examples of optimum health, mental and physical.

Some of the key principles of Hatha Yoga suggest:

The food we consume must always be fresh, light and pleasant to eat.

“Drink your food, chew your water”, meaning the solid food must be chewed so thoroughly that it becomes a pulp in our mouth, almost like a liquid. And chew your water implies that water must be consumed slowly, retaining it in your mouth till it mixes with your saliva. This diluted saliva neutralises stomach acids when the water is drunk, and is beneficial for people with acidity.

And, conclude your meal when you are 75-80 per cent full. Yogis say we must leave the remaining 25 per cent empty for the gases and air to freely move around. This practice is known as 'Mitahara'- moderation of food consumption.

Translated literally from Sanskrit, mita meaning“moderate” and ahara meaning“food consumption”, Mitahara is a yogic virtue that focuses on awareness at the time of consuming our food and drink. It also highlights the effects that nutrition and over-consumption have on the mind and body.

How can we adopt Mitahara in our lives?

Eat with awareness, know how much you are putting on plate and be mindful of how each food item affects your body and mind.

Follow your circadian rhythm; eat your first meal after sun rise and your last meal at sun set.

Choose fresh food and avoid processed foods as much as possible. Limit apathya (unwholesome) food.

Consume more of wholegrains, nuts, seeds, leafy greens, fresh fruits and vegetables.

Make food your medicine, before medicine becomes your food. Eat a balanced diet that heals and energises your body.

Diet should be in moderation and overeating should be avoided at all cost. One-fourth of stomach should be left empty at each meal.

Our eating behaviour is largely influenced by society. It is normal to catch up over a meal - with friends or even with colleagues or clients; so much of our entertainment revolves around food.

The food industry shows no signs of slowing down, with new packaged products, restaurants and food concepts being introduced every day. Making a change to trim down on your eating habits is not easy, especially in social situations, and it may not be possible to follow Mitahara all the time.

But life is all about balance, if you have a heavy dinner outside, stay light the next day and detox your body with fluids. Follow the 80/20 principle where you are allowed to 'cheat' 20 per cent of the time.

Once you know how to master this cycle, you will have a deeper understanding of your body, mind and emotions. As Sufi philosopher Dr Umar Faruq says,“If you can control what you eat and drink, you can control everything else.”

Effects of Mitahara
  • Leads to optimum health and a peaceful mind.
  • Promotes health, vitality, strength and relaxation.
  • Helps in easy digestion.
  • Removes body toxins.
  • Brings purity and stability at mental level.



Khaleej Times

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