The Sattvic or Yogic Diet     4 posts


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Organic Vegetables: Most mild organic vegetables are considered sattvic, including beets, carrots, celery, cucumbers, green leafy veggies, sweet potatoes and squash. Pungent veggies like hot peppers, garlic and onion are excluded, as are gas-forming veggies such as mushrooms and potatoes. They are considered rajasic and tamasic respectively. Sometimes the shortcomings of these foods can be overcome by careful preparation. An excellent practice is to drink freshly made vegetable juices for their prana, live enzymes and easy absorption

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Pure, sattvic food needs to be chewed carefully and eaten in modest portions. Overeating is definitely tamasic. The food should be enjoyed for its inherent taste and quality, rather than the spices and seasonings that are added. Too much salt and spice has a rajasic effect, which fuels desire and leads to over-satiation, the loss of taste and the loss of pleasure. “When rajas predominates, a person runs about pursuing selfish and greedy ends, driven by restlessness and desire” (BG 14:12). A refined sense of taste leads to increased pleasure

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Although it has been suggested that one can arrive at the sattvic diet through trial and error, it can be most helpful to consider the general characteristics of the sattvic diet, which traditionally is described as pure foods that are rich in prana. Organic foods are therefore recommended for both their purity and vitality. The food should be fresh and freshly prepared. Leftovers are decidedly tamasic. There are some exceptions, but most people understand that if you make a beautiful meal one day and feel great from it, that is no guarantee that you’ll get the same effect or pleasure the next day.Sattvic foods are light (as opposed to heavy) in nature, easy to digest, mildly cooling, refreshing and not disturbing to the mind. They are best prepared with love and awareness. On this last point, please note that just as our food affects our mind, our thoughts and emotions also affect our food. You can consume high-quality food, but if it is prepared or eaten in anger, it will have a disturbing effect. On the other hand, you can sometimes take less than pure food and bless it to overcome its impurities. The idea ultimately is to absorb that which is nourishing and eliminate that which is not--and to keep our thoughts positive, especially when eating or preparing food

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A beginning practice in both ayurveda and yoga is to simply observe the effect of each food choice we make and, from our experience and awareness, begin to make small changes. As we progress in this practice we can recognize three broad categories called the gunas. Some foods leave us feeling tired and sluggish. This is called the tamasic effect. Other foods leave us feeling agitated or over-stimulated--the rajasic effect. The third category belongs to foods that leave us feeling calm, alert and refreshed. This is the sattvic effect and the basis of the sattvic diet.If we persist in this practice, we will arrive at our personal version of the sattvic diet. The Bhagavad Gita describes the sattvic diet as “promoting life, virtue, strength, health, happiness and satisfaction.” Sattvic foods are “savory, smooth, firm and pleasant to the stomach.” By contrast, the Gita describes the rajasic diet as “excessively pungent, sour, salty, hot, harsh, astringent and burnt,” leading to “pain, misery and sickness.” The tamasic foods are described as “stale, tasteless, smelly, left-over, rotten and foul” (BG 17:8-10)

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