There is a famous saying among the believers of Indian religions that goes: “Jaisa Aahaar - vaise Vichaar”, commonly translated as “what you eat, makes up your thoughts”.
This is apparently one of the major reasons of placing restrictions for consumption of certain types of foods or drinks.
However, the real meaning of this phrase is slightly different.
In the Sanskrit language, Aahaar means 'intake'. Whatever we intake with our 5 senses (vision, sound, taste, smell and touch) is called Aahaar.
In every language, the original meanings of some words change over the period of time. The meaning of Aahaar also got consolidated only to the intake by mouth; that is food or drink.
The original Sanskrit phrase is “Yathaa Aahaar- Tathaa Vichaar”.
Its Hindi version, “Jaisa Aahaar - taisa Vichaar” is common in central India.
However, in northern India, Punjab, Haryana and J&K, since the regional languages are influenced by both, Sanskrit and Persian, this phrase was replaced by “Jaisa Ann – Taisa Man”.
Popular meaning: as is the (intake of) food, so is the Mind.
Notice how the meaning of the word ‘Ann’ has changed here?
‘Ann’ actually means grains and beans. In this phrase however, it is meant as food in general.
Similarly, Aahaar, which means intake in general by all senses, is usually understood to be only in terms of food taken in by mouth.
If we investigate thoroughly, we will find that it is the intake from all the senses that makes up our thinking, our mind. It's not only what we intake with the mouth, what we eat or drink affects our thoughts, rather whatever we see, hear, feel and smell or read; everything changes our mood, our way of thinking.
Therefore, to control our thoughts, it is said that we need to watch and control our ‘Aahaar’; not just the food but the intake from all the five senses.
It would help us to understand the message of the Scriptures more clearly if we know the meaning of certain words as they used to be in the era when they were written.