By on August 2, 2010

Posted By Dr.Anjali Mukherjee on 2010-08-02 14:25:56

Food influences both the aspects of your being including your physical and emotional ones which means both your body and mind.  Ayurveda, the ancient healing system in India had identified the positive and negative attribute of diets, which today is being recognised by modern nutritional science. Its knowledge is rooted in wisdom and not technology. Ayurveda realizes how food and other lifestyle factors influence one’s thinking and feeling. According to Ayurveda, food can be categorised according to its basic qualities – Sattvic, Rajasic and Tamasic.

Sattvic Food
It is always freshly cooked and simple. It is the food that can be `digested easily’. It can bring one’s mind to a state of balance and helps build immunity and improves the healing response in those who are ill.  It consists of foods that are closest to their natural forms. Sattvic foods include milk and milk products and fresh as well as dried fruits. It also includes fresh vegetables except the onion family eg garlic, onions and chives. Besides, all unrefined whole grain cereals, most lentils (dals) sprouts and natural sweetners like jaggery, honey and natural oils such as homemade ghee, butter and cold pressed oils are also considered sattvic.

Sattvic food is moderately cooked with few spices (no chillies and black pepper) and less fat.  The common spices used in sattvic cooking are turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, corriander, saunf and cardamon. Eating raw foods is not considered sattvic as they harbour a lot of parasites and microbes. Furthermore, raw foods are known to weaken the digestion according to Ayurveda.  They reduce `Ojas’ which is synonymous with our vital energy or `Prana’ or `chi’ or `jing’ or life force.  The proper functioning of the mind depends on `Ojas’.  Spiritual development also depends upon `ojas’. So small amounts of raw foods can be eaten according to sattvic rules but large amounts of raw foods are not allowed according to the sattvic diet. Although ghee is allowed on the sattvic plan as it is considered important for the development of the mind, oily and fatty foods are taken sparingly.  Ghee is known to enhance `Ojas’ which in turn helps mental and spiritual development. A sattvic diet bestows knowledge and awareness in a seeker.

The Sattvic Personality
A person who follows the sattvic way of eating is known to be clear minded, balanced, moderate in habits and is focused.  He usually avoids using intoxicants as in alcohol, and stimulants like tea, coffee, tobacco and non-vegetarian food.  He is extremely balanced and spiritually aware.

Rajasic Food
It is food, which is fresh but `heavy’ to digest.  Those who indulge in heavy physical activity should eat this type of food.  It includes non-vegetarian food like meat, fish, eggs and chicken and all whole pulses and dals (not sprouted), hot spices like chillies, pepper and all vegetables including onions and garlic. The Rajasic diet is also cooked fresh as in sattvic and is of high quality and nutritionally rich.  Rajasic cooking may contain a little more oil and spices as compared to sattvic food. Such a diet may benefit people who believe in action and aggression in a positive way for e.g. a businessperson, politician, athlete etc.

The Rajasic Personality
The Rajasic diet makes a person long for sensual stimulation.  He is usually aggressive in nature (in a positive way) and full of energy.  He is interested in the four p’s – power, prestige, position and prosperity.  But he is quite in control of his life.  He is not obsessed by any of the above.  He is a `go-getter’ in life and knows how to enjoy life.

Tamasic Food
This includes all foods that are not fresh, unnatural, overcooked, stale and processed. They include all foods made from refined flour (maida), pastries, pizzas, burgers, chocolates, softdrinks, rumali roti, naan, stimulants like tea, coffee, tobacco, intoxicants like alcohol, wines etc.  Most canned and preserved foods like jam, jelly, pickle and fermented foods fall in this category.  Fried foods, sweets made from sugar, ice creams, puddings and most modern day `fun foods’ are included in this list.  All spicy, salty, sweet and fatty foods form a part of the tamasic diet. Overeating is a tamasic trait. Overeating even of sattvic food brings on tamas in an individual.

The Tamasic Personality
`Tamas’ brings about stagnation in a person and degeneration in his health.  Such individuals suffer from intense mood swings, insecurty, desires and cravings and are unable to deal with others in a balanced way.  They have little regard for the welfare of others and tend to be very self-centered.  Their nervous systems and hearts do not function optimally and such individuals age fast. They usually suffer from degenerative conditions like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, chronic fatigue etc.  They usually lead a sedentary lifestyle and enjoy packaged and processed foods, which are rich in calories. They have almost no control over their tongue and indulge into mindless eating. Such individuals would benefit from switching from a tamasic diet into a sattvic diet.  Others, who live life in moderation and are into politics, business, defence or into athletics, would do well by following the Rajasic way of life.

Sattvic, Rajasic and Tamasic are more than just qualities in food. They are a way of life. How we choose to live and think, how we treat others and what we choose to eat corresponds perfectly with all that we receive in life both in terms of health and awareness. If you find that what you are receiving from life is intolerable, all you need to do is to make better choices.

Last Updated on 2010-10-23 12:32:54

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