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Healthy Eating For a Balanced Lifestyle
The three gunas or qualities of Nature are sattva (purity or transcendence), rajas (activity and distraction) and tamas (inertia or ignorance). These qualities are present in all foods and have a profound effect on the mind and spiritual development.
Tamasic foods are processed, artificial, devitalized, boiled or rotten. Not only do they destroy physical health, but they also promote spiritual unconsciousness, psychological discontent and violence. Examples include canned foods, sugar and white flour, alcohol, and processed meat and milk.
Rajasic foods are stimulating and develop active qualities. These foods are not necessarily harmful, and are often strengthening and beneficial to the body. In excess, they can create restlessness in the mind and emotions and desire for worldly things. Examples include spicy foods, garlic and meat.
The sattvic diet promotes a calm and clear mind. While things of similar nature enhance each other, the foods that make up the sattvic diet are themselves peaceful (non-stimulating) and clear (without impurities). Sattvic foods are properly prepared according to traditional methods. Many modern methods of food preparation have effects on food that make them rajasic or tamasic and impair health.
The sattvic diet emphasizes organically grown whole foods that are raw or freshly cooked (not microwaved), as well as “cooked raw” or lacto-fermented foods. Preferably, the diet will include many locally produced foods, especially foods that you personally played a role in producing and that therefore strengthen your adaptation to your natural environment.
It is primarily a lacto-vegetarian diet that values milk highly but avoids other animal products, including eggs, fish and meat. A sattvic diet excludes artificial food processing and alteration as much as possible. Unfortunately, this includes an alarming percentage of modern foods.
It should be noted that although clean, the avoidance of meat means that this is not necessarily the greatest diet that promotes physical strength, nor is it intended to be, as its focus is primarily spiritual, not physical. Excluding animal products other than milk also excludes some important nutrients that can be obtained exclusively from animal products. For this reason, it will not be right for all people all the time, but in general it can be followed safely with wonderful benefits for shorter or longer periods of time for different constitutions, especially in relation to with spiritual withdrawal or isolation.
Regardless of whether meat is included in the diet or not, everyone will reap physical and spiritual benefits from including more fresh, local, organically and sustainably grown foods, preparing foods properly, and avoiding junk foods. produced and processed in the market.
Sattvic food categories
Paramhansa Yogananda on processed white flour: “…there is no excuse for any sane and intelligent person to kill himself or crawl around half alive because of consuming devitalized or wrongly chosen food.”
Whole grains are generally quite sattvic, but must be soaked to neutralize unhealthy and devitalizing factors (mainly phytic acid) and make them easier to digest. In the case of flour, the grains are well freshly ground to avoid spoilage. The flour can then be soaked with the wet ingredients, or flour from sprouted grains can be used. Slow cooking is generally preferred and pressure cooking is not recommended as high heat can greatly denature the proteins.
Cold cereals and granola should be avoided as their cooking and manufacturing processes render the grains somewhat toxic and indigestible.
Porridge is a great way to prepare cereal. Rinse and soak the grains at least overnight in clean warm water with a little organic yogurt, kefir, whey or buttermilk. The cooking time will depend on the hardness of the grain. Porridge can be served with flax seeds or nuts, raw butter or cream, and a natural sweetener. The homemade bread is great too.
Sattvic dairy foods include: raw milk, cream, butter, ghee (clarified butter), soft raw milk cheeses, and fermented milk such as yogurt, kefir, buttermilk, or whey.
Milk is a very spiritual food with wonderful health benefits for the body, mind and spirit. In its natural state it can be taken in abundance. Its qualities differ dramatically from modern practices however, and turn a satvic food into a tamasic food with harmful effects on health. These practices include torturous environments for cows, chemical grains and feeds, additional growth hormones, pasteurization and homogenization.
The consumer then receives the physical, emotional and spiritual toxins associated with these practices.
The best source of milk is from organic, pasture-fed cows, especially in the spring and fall seasons when the cows feed on fast-growing grass. It should be taken raw, but if raw milk is not tolerated, cultured is also excellent.
Of all dairy products, ghee (clarified butter) is particularly important. It is the most refined essence of milk and the transformation from milk to ghee is compared to the transformation from rasa (plasma) to ojas (spiritual vital force). Ghee serves as a vehicle for many medicines in Ayurveda, carrying their qualities deep into the tissues. It is especially rejuvenating for the brain and nervous system, contributing to spiritual practice and development. Ghee is one of the four mahasnehas (great fats) revered in Ayurveda. Sneha, or fat, is a synonym for love, and ghee nourishes the quality of our love and devotion.
Natural Sattvic sweeteners include: raw honey, mushrooms, dehydrated cane sugar, stevia, date sugar, molasses, malted grain syrups, and sorghum syrup.
The above sweeteners should still be used in moderation so as not to disturb blood sugar levels, a major cause of mental and emotional instability. As with all foods, choose organic sources for your sweeteners.
The following sweeteners are rajasic or tamasic and should be avoided: white sugar, brown sugar, concentrated fruit juice, high fructose corn syrup, and artificial sweeteners such as aspartame.
Healthy non-animal fats
Non-animal sattvic fats include: extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil or butter, palm oil, flaxseed oil, and sesame oil.
Avoid sunflower, cottonseed, safflower, canola, soybean, cottonseed and corn, and especially hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated trans fats. All of these oils contribute to a number of health challenges.
Fruits are especially sattvic, since fruits, along with flowers, are the most developed parts of the plant kingdom. Fruits help develop the spiritual heart. It is best to focus on locally grown and in-season produce as this serves to help you connect with the rhythms of Nature in your local environment.
The spiritual master, Paramhansa Yogananda, attributed special spiritual qualities to certain fruits:
Peach – selflessness
Oranges – reforming zeal
Grapes – spiritual love
Banana – humility
Apple – self-control
Strawberry – dignity
Pineapple – courage
Cherries – joy
The fruits should be eaten fresh, freshly squeezed or lacto-fermented as a chutney. Canning increases the quality of tamas, as does freezing, albeit to a lesser degree.
Most vegetables are quite sattvic. It is good to have some raw, but lightly cooked may be best (steamed, blanched, baked or fried in butter, olive oil or coconut oil) as many vegetables contain harmful substances that affect in digestion, assimilation and cellular functions, and these substances are neutralized by cooking. Cooking improves the digestibility of vegetables, but at the same time destroys enzymes and some nutrients.
So what to do?
Cook your vegetables raw! Include some lacto-fermented vegetables (such as sauerkraut). This process actually increases the nutritional value and adds improved enzyme activity and friendly bacterial flora, optimizing digestion and assimilation of nutrients.
Raw onions, leeks and garlic have more of a rajasic quality and although they have many medicinal values, mushrooms are considered tamasic. Canned, frozen or heated vegetables also increase the quality of the tamas.
Nuts and seeds
As with grains, nuts and seeds are generally sattvic, but require some preparation to neutralize harmful substances.
Start with organic, raw nuts. These can be sprouted, or soaked overnight in a little natural salt (Celtic sea salt if best) and then eaten wet or dried in a low heat oven (less than 150 degrees), or in sun, for 12 to. 24 hours.
Nuts prepared as above can then be eaten by themselves (chewed well) or cooked with food. They can also be blended to create wonderful nut butters.
“Beans, beans, magic fruit.
The more you eat, the more you eat.
The more you do, the better you feel.
So let’s eat beans for every meal!”
– My primary school
Legumes are known for their challenges with digestibility, but many traditional societies have survived largely on beans without challenge. This again, is mainly due to the method of preparation.
Soak all legumes in clear water with whey, lemon or lime juice and leave in a warm place for 24 hours. Then, pour off the soaking water and rinse well. Boil the beans until soft and skim off the foam that rises to the surface. Finally, rinse the beans again and add suitable seasonings and natural salt, lemon juice or juice from lacto-fermented vegetables, and raw butter or olive oil.
The most sattvic legumes are mung beans and aduki beans. Small amounts of tofu are fine, but otherwise soy should only be taken in fermented form such as miso, tempeh and natto, as these preparations neutralize naturally occurring harmful substances.
Improperly prepared beans are irritating and rajasic, and canned beans add to the taste.
The most sattvic spices are mild and tend to be sweet with spicy and bitter notes. They can be taken in abundance as they aid in the digestion of other foods and have numerous health benefits. These spices are many, but some examples include: cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, fennel, ginger and turmeric.
Very hot spices like chilies or chilies and garlic are more rajasic and stimulating, and spices that are irradiated are lifeless and tamasic.
Unfortunately, most modern beverage choices are unhealthy. Coffee, tea and other caffeinated beverages are highly stimulating and rajasic. Pasteurized juices, carbonated drinks and alcohol have a general tamasic quality. Even the modern “health drink” soy milk has some health challenges because there are harmful and not neutralized substances in its preparation.
Sattvic drink choices include: pure spring water, raw milk, sattvic herbal teas such as chamomile and peppermint, sattvic fruit and vegetable juices diluted with pure water, properly prepared milk, seeds, grains or nuts (see relevant sections above) and lacto-fermented beverages made from milk, grains, fruits and nuts.
Adapted from Dietary Supplements for Illumination: Guidance for Inner Peace and Self-Realization, by Jacob Griscom, CAS
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