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March 02, 2009

Sattva and food

I recently told a story about the three guna's or quality's. Sattva is the desired guna, promoting peace and harmony and satisfaction. Sattva is associated with spiritual aspirations and many ascetics choose to bring more sattva into their lives. One way to do this i through what we eat.

You can easily tell which foods promote sattva because they are fresh, juicy, light, unctuous, nourishing, sweet, and tasty. They give the body energy and nutrients without taking much effort to digest. Foods that are stimulating or exciting (like chili) and foods that are old (like frozen foods or leftovers) are not sattvic.

How you prepare your food can increas or decrease it's sattva. Any food prepared with peace and love with be more sattvic, whilst anything prepared whilst you are angry or stressed will become less sattvic. Organic and seasonal produce gives more sattva and soaking increases sattva in all foods. Foods that are well cooked are more sattvic that foods that are raw or burnt or deep fried.

There are plenty of foods and herbs that promote sattva, including:
There are many food which are naturally high in sattva, but due to our modern processing and storage lose this quality. Milk for example is very sattvic, but only for four hours after milking! After that it is rajasic. Wheat is also sattvic, but becomes tamasic if it is not eaten immediately after being ground into flour-the whole grain, however, improves with age. Day old home made yoghurt is sattvic, but store bought yoghurt is not. Most of this is due to age or processing, and really is nearly impossible to avoid these days unless you live on a farm.

Guna do not correlate with dosha, though many people try to find a link. There are foods that are suitable for each dosha which are high in sattva. And again, sattva is not a black and white matter, some foods, like black pepper are highly stimulating and therefore rajasic, but the effect they have on the body can be sattvic because the cleanse and purfy the lungs. Different foods may be sattvic for different people.

If this all sounds a bit complicated, just go back to the very beginning, and choose foods that are fresh, juicy, light, unctuous, nourishing, sweet, and tasty.

To find out your guna and what areas you could work on you can a little quiz here.


vjkrishna said...

Great blog! I know you'd have heard this a million times but still - that was a surprising blog from an Australian!

Have you ever visited India?

Julia said...

Thanks! I spent a year in India, but most of what I have come to know about Ayurveda has been learned since I got back home to Australia.

Ayurveda just feels so natural to me-more like remembering than learning. We often joke that my past lives have been in India.

Hope to see you around here again.

Anonymous said...

That was a good post Julia!!
I always wondered why my grandma insisted on cooking the vegetables on the day its been bought from the market and to never fill the fridge with the whole weeks supply...
I wish I could grow my own produce some day .

Julia said...

Yes, grandma's do know a thing or two.

I envy the french. I read a story about an old lady who lived alone and walked to the bakery who baked three times a day to buy a quarter of a baguette fresh for every meal! So romantic.

I have to admit my fridge is full to bursting.