The Sattvic diet is vegetarian as dairy is only consumed in small amounts. The diet is based on Ayurvedic principles and is popular among yoga enthusiasts.
Sattvic is derived from Satva, the state of balance and harmony. The goal for a Yogi is to achieve the sattvic state of peace and tranquility.
Therefore, Sattvic foods are light, easy to digest, mildly cooling, refreshing, and not disturbing to the mind. In the Yogi community, it’s being said that sattvic meals should be prepared with love and awareness – not only does food affects our mind, but our thoughts and emotions also affect our food. Are you now experiencing the moment when you remember times your signature dish just didn’t taste the same on a bad day? Exactly! I remember during difficult times in my life, especially those that were food-related, the food I made was not the same as it used to be. But on days when I’d feel tremendous and infinitely happy, I would turn into a Masterchef!
So, let’s just cook and eat with love!
Yes, also eat with love! Sattvic food should be chewed carefully and eaten in modest portions. Overeating is tamasic. Food should be enjoyed for its taste and quality without changing the flavors by too much spicing, seasoning or salt. Too much seasoning or salt has a rajasic effect, which fuels desire and leads to over-satiation, the loss of taste, and the loss of pleasure.
Let’s talk about the Gunas
The Gunas are the three naturally arising forces of every human being. They are philosophical concepts of the mind.
If you’d like to learn more, you find a whole article about them here.
As mentioned earlier, Satva is the state of balance and harmony which every Yogi tries to achieve in his or her life. This is the state of inner peace.
This is the state of activity and hyperactivity. Some among us tend to identify themself with their actions and roles in life, and the importance of our self-being, which we also often receive as praise from others. This is when we try to be perfectionists in our actions to gain the reward of a fulfilled life.
This is the little devil sitting on your shoulder. Tamas is the third guna and refers to the body and mind’s darkness, ignorance, and sluggishness. This is the force that makes us take a break and relax.
Do you know procrastination? You could say Tamas invented procrastination just before an approaching deadline. The result is that we don’t finish the race. When we think we can easily do it – we’ve come so far, and suddenly we get too sloppy. Then we suddenly realize that we can’t keep up!
What are the Sattvic Diet rules?
The Sattvic consists mainly of fresh fruits and vegetables, grains, little dairy, and wheat, as they tend to be allergens. The sattvic food should be organically grown.
Certain foods are incompatible when eaten together, it is recommended only to eat when hungry and drink when thirsty. Feeling hungry signifies your digestive fire (Agni) being en-kindled. The liquid will dissolve the digestive enzymes and reduce the Agni if you drink instead of eating.
The food should be eaten without distractions, such as TV, phone, book, or conversations. The mind should be focused on the flavors. The food should be chewed 32 times, allowing the digestive enzymes in the mouth to work and preparing the stomach for the food (delivery). One-third of the stomach should be filled with food, one-third with water, and one-third with air. The amount of food should be equivalent to two handfuls of food. It is also necessary to drink slightly warm water in small sips.
“Foods in the mode of Sattva increase the duration of life, purify existence, give strength, and increase health, happiness, and satisfaction.”Lecture of Yoga Teacher Training
Fasting is not recommended, except in the case of illness.
Despite this diet’s fresh and healthy choices, it is a highly restricted diet and not proven by science. Apart from this, it should not be followed by those who experience Eating Disorders.
What can be eaten?
- Fresh Organic Fruits
- Fresh Organic Dairy
- Nuts, Seeds, and cold-pressed Oils (Olive-Oil. Sesame Oil, Flax Oil)
- Organic Vegetables excluded are the pungent hot peppers, garlic, and onions, as well as the gas-forming vegetables, such as mushrooms and potatoes
- Whole grains
- Sweeteners, such as raw honey and raw sugar
- Mild spices. E.g., basil, cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, fennel, fenugreek, fresh ginger, and turmeric.
What to avoid?
- Added sugar and sweets: white sugar, high fructose corn syrup, candy, soda, etc.
- Fried foods
- Processed foods
- Refined grain products: white bread, bagels, cakes, cookies, etc.
- Meat, fish, eggs, and poultry
- Certain vegetables and fruits: onion, durian, scallions, pickles, and garlic
- Certain beverages: alcohol, sugary drinks, and caffeinated beverages like coffee
Should I switch to a sattvic diet because I practice Yoga?
A clear NO! Yoga is for everyone, for meat lovers, for pescetarians, for raw vegans, for fruitarians, for coffee addicts, for wine experts, for athletes, for your parents and kids, and again for everyone! Just because you want to practice Yoga, you do not need to change yourself – instead, BE YOURSELF ultimately, and yourself will guide you in the right direction.
The sattvic diet may suit some of us, but others may be wholly irritated and even experience the tendency to malnutrition. Due to the choice of fresh, unprocessed food, a sattvic diet may promote overall health by providing your body with protein, healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants essential for maintaining proper bodily function. It also may reduce the risk of chronic diseases and promote weight loss and weight maintenance. Apart from the nutritional facts, it can also be chosen for ethical and environmental reasons.
You should be aware of its risks when following any type of diet. The benefits that may occur are not guaranteed; a strict diet may influence the health conditions in both ways (good & bad), distress your body and mind, and promote and develop Eating Disorders under bad circumstances. As with all diets, the sattvic diet should be adapted per your personal needs and perhaps even discussed with your doctor before pursuing it fully.
For these reasons, it may be best to follow a less restrictive, plant-based diet instead – see how it goes and be kind to yourself. Listen to your body, trust it – it will give you signs of what it wants – just practice awareness.