I’ll be honest—it was only recently that I learned that the “Kama Sutra” is full of voluminous prose dedicated to the merits of a thoughtful diet. Before this understanding, I was under the presumption that the collection mostly extolled the virtues of contorting one’s body to act as a human pretzel to reach sexual ecstasy and please one’s self and partner(s).
And though there is a good bit of prose dedicated to that as well, the Sutras are also filled with a diet philosophy that is both practical and sensual. The text explains which foods foster creative energy in the bedroom, which stimulate passion, and which foods will lead you to disappoint your lover.
The Sutras put food into three categories: Sattvic, Rajasic, and Tamasic. Each category has the ability to nourish energy flows and creativity to varying degrees and works on a totem pole of sorts; Sattvic is the ideal to strive for and Tamasic is something to move away from.
Moving away from Tamasic foods means limiting foods such as onions, garlic, eggs, red meats, and deep-fried, oil-laden dishes. These foods are too strong and pungent and lead to negative, altered states. They also bring a state of lethargy. The advice to stay away from these types of food is simple: have too much of these foods and you will be too tired to have sex! These foods are also believed to lead to bodily odors, flatulence, and fattiness, which are cited to be off-putting to lovers.
Rajasic foods have the ability to stimulate the senses, which is not necessarily a bad thing. However, these foods are difficult to digest thus causing bodily discomfort. The Sutras explain, quite practically, that chances are, if one feels bodily discomfort, he or she is less likely to initiate physical intimacy or even feel excited by the prospect of it. Foods from this category are fish, chicken, spices, salt, and root vegetables. Great care has to be taken to prepare Rajasic foods, as consuming unfresh meats is said to affect the flow and texture of bodily fluids. These foods need not be abstained from altogether—but they should not be the foundation of one’s diet. These are eat-in-moderation type foods.
Finally, Sattvic foods are the best to consume as they lend themselves to a clear mind and light body. These foods are fruits, milk, honey, vegetables that grow above ground, and nuts. These also make for the healthiest taste and appearance of sexual secretions and help pump blood to the right places during sexual intercourse. The philosophy here is simple really: look good, feel good, and have good, healthy sex!
In essence, much to my surprise, the “Kama Sutra” is not just a collection of sexual positions—it is a grand collection of work that looks at sex physically, behaviorally, and spiritually. These bodies of work reiterated the notion that you are what you eat and that what you eat not only defines your psychology, but also has the power to further entice or alienate your partner.