Spiritually speaking

You are what you eat

As is one’s food so is one’s mind.

You are what you eat


Dr Satish K Kapoor

As is one’s food so is one’s mind. Indian tradition regards the mind as a form of subtle matter made up of food. Food is regarded as an oblation to life-force in the human body. In the Chhandogya Upanishad the sage Uddalaka informs his son Shvetaketu that food when eaten becomes divided in three ways. Of it, the grossest component turns into faeces, the medium  part becomes flesh, and the subtlest, becomes mind.


Ayurveda categorizes food into three parts – sattvika, rajasic and tamasic, based on the three fundamental constituents of nature. Sattva  stands for  purity, lucidity, goodness, wisdom and harmony. Rajas  represents  desire, dynamism, and blossoming. Tamas symbolises inertia, inactivity and darkness. 

According to the Bhagavadgita, foods that increase life, purity, and light heartedness suit persons of sattvic temperament. Foods that are bitter, sour, salty, spicy, dry and burning, are preferred by rajasic persons. And foods that are spoiled, tasteless, stale,  appeal to persons of tamasic disposition.  

Sattvic food

Sattvic food is easy to digest and provides energy without unnecessarily burdening the digestive system. It comprises of fresh cow’s milk, and its derivatives, whole grains like wheat, corn, barley, millet and oats, unpolished rice, pulses, nuts, seeds, sprouts, seasonal fruits and vegetables, natural sugars, like jaggery and honey,  life-promoting herbs. 

Rajasic food

Rajasic food has a stimulating and invigorating effect on the body. It consists of denatured grains and pulses, refined or bleached flours, white sugar, caffeinated tea, coffee, soft drinks, fermented  beverages, appetizers, chocolates, pickles & aphrodisiacs. 

Tamasic food 

Tamasic food is heavy on stomach, and may cause bad breath, bloating, allergy, or sluggishness. It includes meat, fertilised eggs, alcoholic beverages, hallucinogens and tobacco, mushrooms, and eatables wrongly processed. 

Of mind and food

As is one’s food, so is one’s mind—The choice of food reflects a person’s attitude, perspective and mental disposition. All the six rasa or tastes - sweet, salty, sour, pungent, bitter and astringent – should be savoured in moderation, according to season, in tune with individual constitution. 

( Dr Kapoor is a noted educationist, historian and spiritualist.)


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