What is Sattvic Diet?
Ayurveda is the ancient science of life dating back over 5000 years and within this science, food choices and eating habits were outlined to benefit all humans according to their constitution (body type). According to ayurveda, a sattvic diet is the most conducive diet for living a naturally balanced life and to keep our minds clear, happy and peaceful and of course free from diseases.
Modern preparation of food uses numerous refining processes, chemical and additives that increase shelf life. These processes deplete our foods of their ‘life-force’ and over time have a negative impact on our digestion and health.
Sattvic foods are nutritious vegetarian foods that enhance our vitality by developing the tissues of our body and thus ‘ojas’ that increases our resistance to disease. We are essentially trying to raise our vibration by making purer food choices.
According to ayurveda, fresh foods are best, which have a balance of all the six tastes, consumed in moderate portions in a relaxed environment.
Benefits of a sattvic diet?
- Create clarity in the channels of the body
- Increase flow of ‘prana’ – our life force
- Vegetarian therefore lighter and easier for the digestion
- Organic unprocessed foods that are not chemical laden (pesticides, herbicides, chemical fertilizers, hormones, irradiation ) or rich in salts and sugars
- Foods prepared with love, increases its energetic quality
- Seasonal vegetables are conducive to natural rhythms of our bodies
- Natural whole foods have more active enzymes to assist bodily functions and prevent diseases.
- A sattvic diet is an integral part of working towards self-improvement and intellectual and spiritual pursuits
- A sattvic diet will help maintain a positive disposition and you will exude sattvic qualities in your character such as generosity, kindness, openness, laughter, compassion and forgiveness.
Sattva, rajas & tamas – the energy of food
Everything on earth has a quality or ‘guna’ e.g. hot/cold/dry/unctuous/rough/smooth etc and anything we perceive through our sense (sound, sight, taste, smell, touch) can be categorised to be sattvic, rajasic or tamasic.
‘Saatvic’ foods have a pure and fresh energy that keep the mind light and clear. These foods include sprouted whole grains, fresh fruit, land and sea vegetables, pure fruit juices, nut and seed, legumes, nuts, seeds, sprouted seeds, honey, and herb teas, ghee and fresh milk. Sattvic foods tend not to disturb the stomach at all.
Whereas rajasic foods have the quality that can stimulate excess fire, aggression, passion, these include foods that are very hot, bitter, sour, dry, or salty. Hot peppers, garlic, onions, tomatoes, eggplant, vinegar, leeks, chocolates, caffeinated drink are examples.
Tamasic foods can create dullness, heaviness and inertia such as: meat, poultry, fish, eggs, mushrooms, leftover or cold foods and often potatoes.
However, in every day life functions some rajas and tamas qualities are still required for action of our goals/day to day functioning and inaction to induce sleep or relaxation respectively. Rajasic and tamasic foods would only be purposely chosen in cases of various medical conditions.
Preferred food choice examples:
Fruits: Apples, kiwi, prunes, Apricots, tangerines, bananas, lychee, pomegranate, cantaloupe, mango, papaya, cherries, melons, nectarines, cranberry, honeydew, oranges, grapefruit, watermelon, pineapples, grapes, peaches, plums, guava, pears, persimmon.
Vegetables: Artichokes, lettuce, beets, greens, asparagus, daikon, fennel, parsnips, bok choy, peas, broccoli, green beans, brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage, lima beans, carrot, turnips.
Sprouted Whole Grains: Amaranth, spelt, barley, buckwheat, bulgur, millet, quinoa, basmati rice, oatmeal.
Oils: Olive, safflower, sesame, sunflower.
Legumes: most lentils, mung, yellow split peas, chickpeas, aduki beans.
Spices: Coriander, basil, cumin, nutmeg, fennel seed, parsley, cardamom, fenugreek, turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, saffron.
Nut/Seed: Brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, coconuts, pine nuts, walnuts.
Milk: Seed milk, hemp milk, almond or other nut milk, organic cows milk, buttermilk, natural set yoghurt.
Sweeteners: Cane juice, raw honey, jaggery, fruit juices.