To lead a healthy lifestyle, one’s diet can be decided on the basis of types of food energy one consumes. Food is among the few basic needs that humans require to survive. To function well, the body needs certain amounts of nutrients on a regular basis. This nutritional intake is governed by the person’s daily activities; how much energy one needs to do those activities. A laborer will require a diet very different from a diet followed by a young school going child. This and many other considerations relating to the person’s health and lifestyle dictate what the person’s dietary intake ought to be.
Whenever we talk about good health and the important role that food intake plays in it, we always get to hear the phrase ‘balanced diet’. We are well aware of the fact that a lack of this balanced can lead to a plethora of health problems. But what is a ‘balanced diet’? How do you gauge if your diet is balanced?
According to Ayurveda, there are three types of food energy, which are also called the three Guna. Every food item is believed to have one of these three types of food energy. The three energies are called Sattavic, Rajasic and Tamasic. A food belongs to one particular energy type depending on the ingredients used, the taste and the effects of it on the body. It is not only the food’s quality that makes it fall into particular types of food energy, but also the manner in which it consumed. It is believed that results corresponding to the energy type have a visible effect on the body.
Rajasic food: Foods that are extremely spicy, hot, dry, too sour, highly salty or pungent are the ones that can be classified as rajasic food. These kinds of foods are over stimulating and cause unusual excitement in the body. As a result, the consumption of the rajasic kinds of foods makes the body very unsettled and agitated. Those who eat hastily are also believed to fall in the category of the rajasic. Example- refined sugar, coffee, potato, apple and fish.
Tamasic food: Whatever that is rotten, stale and rancid comes under what is known as the tamasic types of food energy. The effects of a tamasic diet are no surprise. The decaying food materials bring the body energy to lower levels. The person is left feeling lethargic due to a lack of any fresh nutritional intake. All types of food energy influence the mind too. A tamasic diet makes the person feel angry and depressed. Over consumption of food too falls in the same category. Example- cheese, lamb, pork, apricots and mushrooms.
Sattavic food: Those foods that are pure and fresh, which increase a person’s good health and make him or her happy and content fall into the sattavic types of food energy. The impact that a sattavic diet has on the body is that it allows a well- balanced flow of energy within the body, allowing it to perform to its optimum level. Example- coconut, peach, lettuce, sprouts and organic milk.
It is not that one should follow only the sattavic diet. It is rather a balanced mix of the three types of food energy intake that allows a person to lead a healthy lifestyle.