Last week, we discussed the attributes of Sattvic (subtle essence) food and its effect on a person’s body, mind and character. This week, we look at the second group of foods in the Ayurvedic hierarchy - Rajasic. Rajasic food denotes activity, decision-making, energy that is required for tasks and mental robustness. The foods in this category are stimulating and activate the various functions of the body. Rajasic food energises almost all the systems, specially the nervous system. Thier effcts on the mind are to help you push yourself beyond your normal capacity and capability. Rajasic (originating from the word ‘Raja’, meaning king, means kingly or fit for a king) food is associated with quality and freshness. However, it also also encourages aggression and makes one more domineering. It can also leave a person feeling busy, overwhelmed and bothered. Rajasic food, in excess or when imbalanced, can disrupt the equilibrium between body and mind.
According to Ayurvedic philosophy, individuals who are unable to be still, are constantly on the move, living in the future or pondering about the past instead of living in the present are drawn to Rajasic food. This aggravates the restlessness inherent in a person.
Ayurvedic practitioners’ advise that Rajasic food should not be had on a daily basis. Consumption is advised on a moderate or occasional basis. Rajasic foods include spicy, hot, bitter, sour and pungent foods, which 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 and black pepper and stimulants such as broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, onion and garlic, tea, coffee, tobacco, soda, alcohol, chocolate, sour apples, pickles and refined sugars all fall in the Rajasic food category. Rajasic food should be consumed only during noon. It is advisable to avoid Rajasic food at dinner as it inhibits digestion. Even Sattvic food that has been fried in oil or over-cooked takes on Rajasic properties, according to some Ayurvedic practitioners.
In its pure form, Rajasic food can be fresh and nutritious. The trouble starts when oil or spices are added, rendering it negatively balanced, especially when compared to a Sattvic diet.
Rajasic food and the body, mind and character
When people tend to have eat foods from the Rajasic food group over a long period of time, their body and mind begins to reflect the qualities of the Rajasic. As in everything, balance is vital. The negative impact of a rich Rajasic diet can be reversed at any time by reverting to food that is Sattvic in nature.
Rajasic-food lovers, when they consume these foods in moderation, are goal-oriented with a stable mind. But this go-getter attitude is accompanied by a restless nature that yearns to be honoured and admired. They also 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 stimulates and overexcites the body and the mind. This can lead to hyperactivity and overexertion of both. The mind is restless and doesn’t switch off even when it is supposed to be resting or sleeping.
Rajasic food and the doshas
Rajasic food is not an ideal choice on a regular basis for any of the doshas, but it aggravates the Vata body type more.
Common Rajasic foods:
Fruit: Sour apples, apples, banana and guava.
Grains: Millet, corn and buckwheat.
Vegetables: Potato, cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, tamarind and winter squash.
Beans: Red dal, toor dal and adzuki.
Dairy: Old sour milk, sour cream.
Meat: Fish, shrimp and chicken.
(Binu Sivan is a Dubai-based freelance writer).