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
- Fresh yogurt
- 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:
- Lemons and lime
- Kidney beans
- Red lentils
- Sour cream
- Hot spices
- White sugar (short term effect)
- 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:
- Stale food
- Deep-fried foods
- Frozen foods
- Microwaves foods
- Overcooked foods
- White sugar (long term effect)
- White flour
- Alcohol (in large amounts)
Resources: “Eat, Taste, Heal”, Dr. Yarema