Food, not all nourishes our body, but it impacts our minds and consciousnesses. Yogis and sages of ancient India believed that food is the creator of the life force that sustains our body and keeps us in good health. It is essential to choose the right kind of food for well-being and a healthy lifestyle. Yogis have classified food into three types based on the effects they have on our body- sattva, rajas and tamas. Hence they have developed three different food habits pertaining to these emotions, namely, Sattvic, Rajasic, and Tamasic. Let us study in detail.
A Saatvik diet is a purely vegetarian diet which includes seasonal fresh fruits, ample of fresh vegetables, whole grain pulses, sprouts, dried nuts, seeds, honey, fresh herbs, milk, and dairy products, which are cruelty-free. In this system of dietary consumption, diet is meant to include foods and eating habits that are “pure, essential, natural, vital, energy-containing, clean, conscious, true, honest, wise. Food under the regime of diet is known to contain the quality of sattva, which is the quality of goodness, positivity, truth, serenity, balance, peacefulness, and virtuousness that is drawn towards Dharma or Gyaan (knowledge.
A sattvic diet is known to advocate Ahimsa, the practice of non-violence or not causing harm to other living things, which is one of the reasons that yogic often follow a vegetarian diet. Fresh nuts and seeds that have not been overly roasted and salted can take in small portions in sattvic food. Fruits are an important part of a sattvic diet, and all fruits are Saatvik. Most mild vegetables are considered Saatvik. Pungent vegetables like hot peppers, leek, garlic, and onions are excluded. A sattvic diet is sometimes referred to as a yogic diet in modern literature. In the ancient and medieval era of Yogic literature, the concept of Mitahara, which literally means ‘moderation in eating,’ has spoken highly about the sattvic diet.
Impact of Saatvik diet on the body:
Yogic diet or Saatvik diet has a plethora of benefits, helping the body, mind, and soul in innumerable ways. A few of them are as follows.
- The Saatvik diet requires the day to be started with a glass of warm water with lemon juice in it. It acts as an alkaline, which helps to cleanse the body and get rid of harmful toxins. By the process of regular detoxification, organs in the body can function better and marginalize the propensity of ailments and diseases.
- The Saatvik diet is known to increase the flexibility of the brain and make it more agile. It helps to establish a balance between body and mind, thereby resulting in longevity of life of an individual.
- Saatvik diet includes green leafy vegetables, fruits, and sprouts and is devoid of heat-inducing foods like meat, fish, onion, garlic, etc. Hence, it does not take much time for the body to digest the food easily, leading to a proper bowel movement, clear skin, etc.
- Saatvik foods include ghee, coconut oil, sprouted seeds, etc. These not only make the food tasty but also help in keeping the brain healthy and your memory sharp.
Rajasic food denotes activity, decision making, and energy that is required for tasks, and mental stability. The food in this category is stimulating and activate the various functions of the body. Rajasic food energies almost all the systems, especially the nervous system. Their effects on the mind help to push the mind beyond normal capacity. Rajasic (originating from the word “raja,” meaning “king, kingly or fit to be king”) food is associated with quality and freshness. However, it also encourages aggression and can render a person being overwhelmed or bothered.
Rajasic food, in excess or when imbalanced, can disrupt the equilibrium between body and mind. Ayurvedic practitioners advise that Rajasic food should not be had on a regular basis. Since Rajasic foods include spicy, hot, bitter, sour, and pungent foods, they are not as easily digestible as Sattvic food. Items such as red meat, red lentils, toor lentils, white urad lentils, black and green gram, chickpeas, spices such as chilies, black pepper, and stimulants such as spinach, onion, garlic, tea, coffee, tobacco, pickles, etc. fall in the category of Rajasic Food. In the purest form, Rajasic Food is very nutritious and fresh. The problem arises when oils or spices are added, rendering it negatively balanced compared to Saatvik diet.
Impact of Rajasic Food on the Body:
- Rajasic food lovers, when they consume Rajasic food in moderation, remain goal-oriented and objective in life as they maintain the stability of the mind. They are determined and relentless in their attitude toward achieving their desired goals. However, this go-getter attitude is often accompanied by a restless nature that yearns to be honored and admired.
- People who follow the Rajasic diet tend to be more selfish and aggressive and have more worries than happiness. Thus, they are victims of their limitless desire for more and tend to opt for anger, hate, and manipulation.
- Rajasic food is known to stimulate and overexcites the body and the mind. This can be leas to hyperactivity and overexertion. The mind is restless and doesn’t switch off even when it is supposed to be resting or sleeping.
Tamasic diet is mostly concerned with foods that are Tamasic in nature or can increase the Tamas energy in the practices. Many times we find ourselves being too lazy to cook and don’t mind eating the previous days’ stale food right out of the fridge. Also, the fast-food culture has been ruining the metabolism and bowel movements of many, for quite some time now. Ayurveda recognized all these ages ago. Such foods are simply called Tamasic Foods- foods that are not good for the mind and body. These foods tend to cause major health hazards and are detrimental to the physical and mental well being of a person.
Tamasic foods need to be avoided if one wants to lead a healthy lifestyle or follow the Ayurvedic way of living- which means that the mind, body, and emotions are all well balanced if you stay away from the consumption of these foods. Tamasic food is known to be heavy, dull, and depressing. They tend to induce sleep and make the body sluggish. Examples of Tamasic food include the meat of an animal, fish, the fertilized egg, onion, garlic, scallion, leek, chive, mushroom, alcohol, beverages, blue cheese, opium, any food which have been kept overnight before consumption or any food that has been preserved in canned or frozen form.
Impact of Tamasic Food on the Body:
- Tamasic diet is known to destroy the body’s ability to fight diseases, to disrupt the proper functioning of the immune system, and to destructively alter the normal pathways of the brain.
- Ayurveda preaches that any person who resorts to a tamasic diet will lose Prana or life energy and will be filled with dark, strong urges such as greed or anger coupled with a lack of proper cognitive and reasoning skills and a sense of inertia. Such is a person not thought to be capable of achieving enlightenment needed to transcend the gunas.
- Tamasic diet is thought to destroy the body’s ability to fight diseases, to disrupt the proper functioning of the immune system and destructively alter the normal pathways of the brain. Numerous mental diseases are known to be caused by Tamasic food ruling the diet.
See Also: The Ideal Diet for A Good Mood