Sattvic diet was originally devised for the practice of Yoga and the development of the mind. It is good for those who use their minds a lot, as it improves mental quality and energy. Moreover, it is important in the treatment of mental disorders, as it helps restore harmony and balance. Sattvic diet aids in tonification and rebuilding of a higher quality tissue in the body, particularly for those who wish to improve their state of consciousness.
Excessive eating is tamasic, light eating is sattvic. Sattvic diet is bland and even in taste, not going to any extremes.
Sattva is pure, light, clear, calming, harmonising, opens the mind and promotes wakefulness
Rajas is cloudy, agitated, turbulent, energising and disturbs emotions.
Tamas is dark, heavy, dulling and promotes lethargy. It closes the mind.
|Rajasic food to avoid||Tamasic food to avoid|
|Overly tasty food excessively spicy, salty, and sour: chillies, garlic, onions, wines, pickles, excess salt, mayonnaise, sour cream, vinegar.||Tamasic food is food which is stale, old, recooked, rancid, artificial, greasy or heavy. It includes all dead food, all meat and fish, particularly pork and animal organ parts|
|Meat is also Rajasic (irritating), particularly red meat, thought that has tamasic properties as well||Most canned food comes here also.|
|Food too hot in temperature is Rajasic||Pasteurised milk or other pasteurised dairy products become tamasic (pasteurisation is a kind of cooking, so pasteurised m ilk is recooked food).|
|Most fried food or roasted and salted food is Rajasic||Excess intake of fats, oils, sugars and pastries are tamasic. White sugar and white flour have a long term tamasic effect (though short term white sugar is Rajasic)|
|Rajasic food is usually taken with stimulating Rajasic beverages like coffee or alcohol||Food that is too cold is also tamasic|
|Avoid cayenne, black pepper, mustard, asafoetida||Avoid garlic, onions, eggs, meat and fish.|
|Tamasic herbs, sedatives such as nutmeg and valerian, should not be used regularly|
Fruit is sattvic (pure) in nature. It is sweet, light and promotes contentment. It has large amounts of the element ether, which controls and balances all the other elements. All fruit is generally good for a Yogic diet or improving the mind. It harmonises the stomach, relieves thirst, calms the heart and improves perception. It both cleanses and nourishes body fluids. It is preferable to take it fresh and in season. Some yogis, however, avoid heavy, sweet fruit, such as bananas, as they are mucus forming and may clog the channels.
Most vegetables are good for a sattvic diet, thought not as much as fruit. Mushrooms are thought to be tamasic, as they are allied with decay. It is interesting to note, however that Chinese Buddhists include many mushrooms as good for a diet promoting meditation.
Pungent vegetables – garlic, onions, radishes and chillies – are Rajasic and tamasic and tend to overstimulate the sexual nerves. Excess of cabbage family plants – cabbage, broccoli, brussle sprouts and mustard, and cauliflower to a lesser extent – are Rajasic or gas forming. Potatoes and sweet potatoes can be a little heavy or mucus forming in excess.
Otherwise fresh or steamed vegetables or vegetable juices are generally good. Celery is particularly good for the brain.
Grains, much like fruit, are generally sattvic in nature, especially rice (basmati or long grain brown rice). Wheat and oats are also good. Grains are better in the winter season, or when more physical strength is required, and are usually the main staple food in a sattvic diet. Whole grains are preferable but breads are also sattvic.
Beans are usually Rajasic in nature. They are irritating, gas-forming and heavy. As such they are generally not recommended as a Yogic diet. Exceptions are mung beans, adzuki beans and tofu. Equal parts split mung beans and basmati rice (kichardi) is the basic Yogic staple diet and the main simple food for purification or for convalescence in Ayurveda.
Seeds and nuts are sattvic in nature. They should be taken fresh or lightly roasted, not heavily roasted and salted, which renders them tamasic. Almonds, pine nuts and walnuts are particularly good. As nuts are a little heavy, they should not be taken in large quantities at a time. Nuts and seeds go rancid (become tamasic) easily.
Dairy products are sattvic in nature, pasteurised, etc, however they can become tamasic. Milk is produced by the love of the cow for its calf. Dairy is good in convalescence. Yoghurt is also good but a little heavy and should not be taken in excess, as it can clog the channels. Most cheese is very heavy and so not recommended on a regular basis.
Most oils are heavy and not recommended in large amounts. Ghee, clarified butter, is sattvic, promotes intelligence and perception and can be freely used. It can be added to rice or vegetables. Sesame oil is sattvic, as is coconut. Olive oil is also good but not with garlic (which makes it Rajasic).
Sweeteners taste in moderation is sattvic, but refined sugars are tamasic. Yogic diet takes raw sugars in small amounts, including honey (not heated) and raw sugar, particularly jaggery. Honey when heated is said to become toxic (tamasic). It is said that sweet feeds Shakti (the power of awareness)
Most spices are Rajasic, but a number of exceptions exist. Sattvic spices include, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, fennel and coriander, as well as turmeric. They help balance the effect of too much fruit, dairy or other dampness-forming foods.
Black pepper can be used to help dry mucus and keep the channels open. Here rajas is used to counter tamas, thus producing sattva indirectly. Such strategic variations should be kept in mind.
Salt is to be avoided except in the summer or in hot climates. Then it is best combined with lime.
Pure spring water can be taken or sattvic herb teas or milk. Coffee and other stimulants should be avoided. Green or black tea, however, is sometimes taken and is thought to improve mental functioning.
Meals should be simple and infrequent. The main meal is usually taken around noon, with no heavy food after sunset. Sattvic meals require preparation with love and awareness. These enhance the sattvic (spiritual) and life-supporting properties of any food that is prepared.
Essential Oils and Incense.
Most essential oils are sattvic in nature including most incense. Best are sandalwood, saffron, camphor, vetivert, frankincense, lotus and rose.