In Ayurveda, eating a sattvic diet is a way to promote, and keep, sattva—a clear head space of truth, contentment, and stability.
You can get there by eating more fresh, local foods; being thoughtful about how you prepare them; and sitting down to enjoy them. This way of eating can be a companion to your yoga practice and may help you pay attention to how foods make you feel—not just in your gut, but in your heart—and how they can affect your mood.
What Is a Sattvic (Pure) Diet?
When you follow a sattvic diet, you eat foods that in Ayurveda are considered to have higher frequencies to help cultivate a higher mind that comprehends deep truths and a kind of spiritual contentment—while staying grounded enough to carry on. A food’s frequency, or energy, comes from how it is grown, its freshness, preparation, and how it is enjoyed. High-frequency foods that are full of prana (life force) are vegetarian, organic, non-GMO, and straight from the farm or garden; they’re prepared mindfully and eaten slowly. Low-frequency foods (which are canned, frozen, fried, or out of a box) are limited or avoided.
Sattvic meals are designed to help balance the three mental energies called the maha gunas. The essential energy of the mind is sattva, or a pure and content state, while tamas (the maha guna of rest, inertia, and stagnation) and rajas (the maha guna of movement, creativity, and passion) disturb sattva. Tamas and rajas aren’t bad per se; they just have trickier energy and a tendency toward imbalance. Tamas slows down your mind, while rajas speeds it up. Too much tamas can make you feel unmotivated and tired. Overdo rajas and you’ll experience racing thoughts and an inability to sit still. The qualities of your mind can change often, so you may have too much tamas one day and too much rajas another.
Use these recipes to bring your mind into balance. There are recipes to support sattva and clear thinking, as well as those to motivate tamas or calm rajas—although you’ll benefit from each of these meals regardless of your state of mind.
See also Transform Your Life with Ayurveda
In a balanced state, your mind is clear.
Sattvic meals digest easily, nourish your tissues, and utilize the six tastes in Ayurveda (sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, astringent) to help balance your sattva, rajas, and tamas maha gunas (mental energies). The six tastes describe the flavors of different foods and their vital essences. For example, the sweet taste is the staple of a sattvic diet; it brings the soft, juicy qualities of earth and water and is equated to the experience of love. Sour and salty tastes bring regenerative qualities to your body and nourish and ground you. The lighter tastes—pungent, bitter, and astringent—purify, tone your tissues, and assist in the breakdown of fats and proteins. A well-rounded meal will incorporate both nourishing and purifying qualities.
When you sit down to a balanced sattvic meal, it's also important to pause for a few breaths and eat mindfully. Notice the flavors of a dish and how it makes you feel. In time, slowing down to truly enjoy your food will become second nature, and mealtimes will become touchstones in your busy day.
Ayurvedic Recipes to Cultivate Sattva
These dishes help naturally bring your mind into a content, satisfied state. Use them to infuse your days with a creative, sustainable spirit. Recipes for sattva balance warming and cooling qualities and are delicate enough to help you keep a clear mind, but tasty enough to satisfy.