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We are What We Eat – What is Sattvic, Rajasic, Tamasic Food in Ayurveda


The food we eat not only nourishes the Body but also affects our ‘Mind‘ and ‘Emotions‘. With consistent and dedicated attention to diet, it is possible to balance not only Physical Health but also our Emotional Health. It is mentioned in Ayurvedic scriptures that nature, a primary force of life, is composed of three qualities or principles called Gunas. The three Gunas or qualities are Sattva (Tranquil or subtle energy), Rajas (Active energy) and Tamas (Inertia or dullness). Read on to know more about what is Sattvic, Rajasic, Tamasic Food in Ayurveda and how it affects our mind, body and soul.

Like all things in the universe, the food we eat also has one or more of these qualities or energies that affect our mind, body and soul. Therefore, what we eat is important for our ‘overall’ health.

1. Sattvic Food

Qualities of Sattvic Food:

Sattvic food is always fresh, natural (very less or no further processing on food), freshly cooked and lightly seasoned. It is a wholesome meal which consists of nourishing carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, etc. in it.

Following Are Some Examples Of Sattvic Food:

Whole grains and legumes: Rice, Whole wheat, Millet, Corn, Lentils, Oats, Beans etc.

Freshly picked and organically grown vegetables: Celery, Sweet potatoes, Sprouts, Cauliflower, Zucchini, Lettuce, Green beans, Spinach, Broccoli, Asparagus etc.

Fresh fruits: Apples, Peaches, Oranges, Bananas, Guava, Berries, Papayas, Pomagranate etc.

Effect Of Sattvic Food On Mind, Body and Emotions:

  • A person who follows a Sattvic diet is called as a Sattvic person.
  • Sattvic individuals are loving and pure-minded
  • They always face life events positively.
  • They feel compassion for all beings.
  • Sattvic people have a good control over their emotions. It’s hard to make them upset or angry easily.
  • Sattvic people always look fresh, alert, aware, and full of luster and are recognized for their wisdom, happiness, and joy.
  • Sattvic individuals do not easily get mental fatigue.
  • Their sleep quality is better, so they get good rest even if they sleep for less number of hours.

2. Rajasic Food

Qualities Of Rajasic Food:

Rajasic foods are very hot (spicy), bitter, dry or salty. Excess flavouring of salt and spices is given to food to make it tastier. Rajasic foods are irritants and stimulants. Any canned food (fruits, beans, vegetables) that are sweetened or salted are Rajasic. Also Bottled Fruit Juices and Fermented Foods are Rajasic in nature. All tempting foods come under the category of Rajasic food.

Following Are Some Examples Of Rajasic Food:

Fish and Meat: Such as Salmon, Sole, Trout, Lamb, Chicken, Turkey, Tuna, Eggs etc.

Excess of Sharp Spices: Salt, Pepper, Black Pepper, Ginger, Onion, Radish, Garlic etc.

Stimulants: Coffee, Tea, Sugar, Cola Drinks, Chocolates, Alcoholic Drinks etc.

Effect Of Rajasic Food On Mind, Body and Emotions:

  • People who are dominated by Rajasic qualities tend to be ambitious, aggressive, egoistic, competitive and are proud of themselves.
  • They have a tendency to control others.
  • They work hard and like power, prestige and position and are perfectionists.
  • They suffer from a fear of failure, tend to be angry and jealous and to have few moments of joy.
  • Rajasic individuals are quickly drained of mental energy
  • They require at least 8 hours of sleep as their quality of sleep is not so good.

3. Tamasic Food

Qualities Of Tamasic Food:

Tamasic foods are over-processed, no longer fresh, and difficult to digest. Foods that are prepared unconsciously or with the distracted mind are Tamasic in nature. Also, if the person preparing the food is angry or in a negative mood while cooking it, then that food is also considered as a Tamasic food. Read my previous blog on this particular topic to know more about why your feelings while cooking affect your food – read here: Cook Consciously To Make Every Meal A Healing Medicine For You

Following Are Some Examples Of Tamasic Food:

Deep Fried Foods: French Fries / Chips, Foods preserved with Salt, Pickles preserved in Vinegar etc.

Preserved Meats: Beef, Veal, Hot Dogs, Sausages, Bacon, Ham etc.

Hard Liquor: Gin, Vodka, Whisky, Rum, Scotch, Martini and other Alcoholic drinks etc.

Effect Of Tamasic Food On Mind, Body and Emotions:

  • Individuals dominated by Tamasic qualities tend toward depression, laziness, excessive eating, drinking, and excessive desire for sex.
  • Tamasic people may be greedy, possessive, attached to materialistic things, irritable and uncaring towards others.
  • Tamasic people lack the motivation or require more efforts to complete their task / work.
  • They need excessive sleep.

Sattvic, Rajasic or Tamasic. Which is Better for You?

We have all the three Gunas / Qualities within us in different proportions. All 3 of these qualities (Sattvic, Rajasic, and Tamasic) are necessary for survival and to move in a progressive direction in life. How we respond to the events and circumstances in our life is very much depends on the predominant Guna / Quality within us.

This is How The Balance Of Sattva, Rajas and Tamas Works Together:

Sattva qualities make a person calm and joyful. ‘Small amount’ of Rajas makes the person active and passionate, while Tamas in ‘moderation’ is considered as grounding and promotes stability.

A Sattvic mind has a calm, clear, creative thinking that allows it to easily find effective solutions to life’s problems. Then we need a little bit of Rajas to implement these creative ideas and solutions. A Little bit of Tamas is required to bring these activities to an end when the problem is actually been solved.

How To Balance Your Sattvic, Rajasic and Tamasic Diet:

The base of our diet should always be Sattvic. As mentioned above the majority of diet should consist of fresh or freshly prepared grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, beans, milk, ghee (clarified butter), cold pressed oils and natural sweeteners (Honey, Jaggery).

We need just a small amount of Rajasic foods to stimulate creativity and for active outward motion. Tamasic food can be helpful when an excess of Rajas is present to bring the stability. If the mind is hyper and ungrounded, some tamasic food can be eaten to promote stability.

Making a change in our food habits is not always an easy task. But you can always take ‘small steps’ and choose more and more Sattvic foods each day.  After some time, you will effortlessly make healthier choices because your body will naturally tell you to do it! 🙂

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