Tag Archives: sattva

How food affects the mind


We just learned a bit about the qualities of the mind (sattva, rajas, tamas) and there’s much more to it!

You might be asking, “So, what creates the quality of our mind anyway? Are we just born that way?” The major influencer is food. Let’s talk about how food affects the mind.

What we put in our bodies is absorbed and assimilated and transformed into energy (all matter is energy, right)? Foods have qualities to them which can enhance our sattva or build more rajas or build more tamas. The more pure our food is, the more pure our mind will be. THEN we will adhere to making awesome choices for ourselves over and over.

Below are samples of sattvic, rajasic, and tamasic foods and how each of these affects our mind-body balance. You should know, every book and online source lists these foods slightly different. I’ve just listed the basics so you are aware how the food affects your mind when making food choices. See below.

Good questions to ask yourself:
• Where do you fall on the qualities of mind chart?
• How does it relate to the foods you are eating on the chart below?
• What can you do to shift your diet to add more sattva?

Learn even more about how food affects our mind in my book, In Your Elements. It’s a workbook, so you learn a little and then plug your life into it to create your own Ayurvedic plan!

Mind Rules Body

Ok! More goodies about our mental state and whether the quality of our mind is living in sattva, rajas, or tamas. If you haven’t read about the three qualities of the mind (or trigunas) give it a quick read and this will make more sense. A quick reminder, sattva is purity, rajas is activity, tamas is inertia.

Below is a handy dandy chart (download here) which shows each dosha, the gunas, and how they are unique to a person’s mental state. For example, a vata person in a rajasic state will feel totally different than a kapha person in a rajasic state. OR! If you are naturally vata, but feel like a rajasic kapha, that is an indication that kapha is increased/imbalanced in you at the moment. Make sense?


A super crazy example about the trigunas is from the movie “Milk” (Watched it last night. Loved it). When rolling the credits (stop reading right now if you have not seen the movie or don’t know what happens. Skip to next paragraph), it said that Dan White’s psychiatrist testified that White was depressed and eating junk food and sugar-laden soft drinks. He explained that because his diet was so bad, it would worsen existing mood swings. They called it the “Twinkie Defense.” DUDE! This totally makes sense. Assuming Dan White had a pitta personality (firey, intelligent, sharp) like most politicians do, the chemicals and low quality of the food, directly affected the qualities in his mind and turned them completely dark and vindictive. That is a perfect example of a tamasic state of mind, where someone is in complete darkness, ignorance, and delusion.

The best way to feed our minds is by feeding our bodies complete and nourishing foods. Let’s choose food that are high in prana, avoiding canned, frozen, fried, fast food, refined sugars, and processed foods. These foods are lifeless and give no nourishment to the mind or body. They might leave us feeling lifeless, depressed, self loathing, or crabby. If you find you are in a rajasic or tamasic state more than you’d like to be, start observing what you are eating. Make adjustments and begin to incorporate foods closer to the source.

When in doubt, you can always do a mono-diet of kitchari for 3-5 days. I do that every so often and it works wonders for mental clarity and energy levels. Otherwise, let’s just continue being mindful of what we eat. Coming soon is a list of sattvic, rajasic, and tamasic foods!