According to ayurveda, there are three innate characteristics in all living things that also are present in every mind. These characteristics, or gunas, are referred to as sattva, rajas, and tamas. They can be seen as energies that affect not only the mind, which flows throughout the body, but also our doshas (our body type) and the food that we eat.
- Sattva is pure, wise, honest, and light
- Rajas is motion, passion, and action
- Tamas is slow, heavy, and dull
Ayurveda teaches us to aim for a sattvic way of life: one full of love, vitality, lucidity, and total harmony. When we increase the amount of sattva in our daily life, we begin to feel calm and peaceful, free of mental stress and depression. You can increase your sattva by meditating, spending time outside, being creative, and following your heart's desires. You can also increase your sattva by eating sattvic foods.
Sattvic foods are alive, fresh, and soothing. They are easily digested and cause us to feel nourished. Examples of Sattvic foods include:
- Most fruits and vegetables (except for onions, garlic, peppers, tomatoes, avocados and mushrooms)
- Mung beans and lentils
- Cow's milk and fresh yogurt (but not cheese)
- Almonds and walnuts
- Rice and freshly-made whole grains
Rajasic foods have the essence of stimulation. They give us motivation and an increase of energy. Too much rajastic food can cause imbalance and over-stimulation, leading to negative emotions. Ayurveda recommends eating more rajasic foods when you need more energy, but to note how over stimulated you feel when you eat them. Also, eating in a hurry is seen to be rajasic. Like most things, it's all about balance! Some rajasic foods are:
- Peppers, tomatoes, avocados, garlic and onions (Why no onions and garlic?)
Lastly, tamasic foods are seen as lacking luster and life. Eating too many tamasic foods gives us a sense of weakness and inertia. Considered to be the most challenging for our bodies to digest and use positively, these foods are to be avoided:
- Fried food
- Heavily processed foods, such as nutra-sweet and margarine
- Overcooked foods
- White sugar and flour
- Cheese (this makes me sad -- I love cheese!)
- Drugs and an over-indulgence in alcohol
- Foods that are over-cooked, stale, or frozen
When looking through my blog, I found that most of my recipes aren't 100% sattvic -- most have onions and garlic in them! However, I did find a handful of sattvic meals and ingredients. Here's a bit of a round-up:
Something to contemplate this week...maybe some sattvic kale cookies are in order!