How to Eat Like a Yogi in the Modern World Part 2: Food and the Mind


by Morgan Webert

How does food effect our mind?

Since the mind and body are intrinsically connected, it follows that what we feed our body also feeds our mind, and the effects of a certain food on the body will similarly effect the mind.

In yoga we categorize the effect of all things–actions, words, asanas, experiences and food–into three qualities called the gunas.  The three qualities are sattvic, rajasic and tamasic. 

Satvic includes all things clean, clear, light, fresh, calm and stable. Rajasic applies to all things fiery, hot, sharp, fast, and stimulating. Tamasic refers to all things slow, dull, heavy, dense and lifeless.

The quality of the food we eat effects the quality of our mind. Satvic foods make us feel clear and light, while rajasic food stimulates us and tamasic food weighs us down.

Rather than categorizing these qualities into good and bad, we want to be discerning about what we eat with an understanding of how it will effect us. We want to find a balance between satvic and rajasic foods, as stimulation is important for digestion and life, and generally limit tamasic food.

Satvic foods are fresh, pure and vibrant, easy to digest and produce harmony in the mind.

Examples of Satvic Foods:

  • Most fresh fruits, vegetables, and freshly-prepared grains
  • Many types of beans, including black, mung, soy and fava
  • Lentils
  • Fresh yogurt
  • Ghee
  • Honey
  • Sesame, sunflower and coconut oil
  • Cashews, almonds, walnuts and macadamia nuts

Rajasic foods are stimulating and naturally comprised of salty, sour, bitter and pungent tastes and should be used in moderation.

Examples of Rajasic Foods: 

  • Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Lemons and lime
  • Kidney beans
  • Red lentils
  • Garlic
  • Peanuts
  • Pickles
  • Avocado
  • Eggs
  • Onions
  • Sour cream
  • Vinegar
  • Hot spices
  • Salt
  • White sugar (short term effect)
  • Coffee
  • Alcohol (in small amounts)

Tamasic foods are dull and lifeless, usually artificially processed, require large amounts of energy to digest, suppress agni (digestive fire) and lead to formation of ama (toxicity) and heaviness. 

Examples of Tamasic Foods:

  • Leftovers
  • Stale food
  • Deep-fried foods
  • Meat
  • Margarine
  • Icecream
  • Frozen foods
  • Microwaves foods
  • Overcooked foods
  • White sugar (long term effect)
  • White flour
  • Alcohol (in large amounts)
  • Cheese

Resources: “Eat, Taste, Heal”, Dr. Yarema

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3 thoughts on “How to Eat Like a Yogi in the Modern World Part 2: Food and the Mind

  1. Better change and resend . . . . . .

    You have examples of Rajasic food twice. It’s clear the last one was meant to be Tamasic.

    This is really good. A nice concise simple overview.

    Sent from my iPad

  2. Hi Morgan, The question I was going to ask you, has been answered somewhat in the post below, about food and mind. I’m interesting to know more about how aspects in the stomach might cause an illness. Would the food we eat change the bacterial makeup on the stomach, which might bring about an illness. There are going to be more questions in the longer term. As you might get the gist when you read through the folder I gave to you. So bare with me as I work through the murkiness and come to the light, as you described today in class as the lotus does. You will probably get this email when you get back from Bali, so I hope you enjoyed your time there. Namaste, Marko

    Date: Wed, 29 Jan 2014 05:05:09 +0000 To:

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