Eat for Your Dosha to Optimize Health, Mood, Weight & More!
The tridoshas, vata, pitta and kapha, are the fundamental basis of understanding the human body, according to Ayurveda. The balance of the doshas is affected due to changes in seasons, choice of diet as well as lifestyle. Eating for your dosha type is not only a great way to keep the body in shape, but an important part of ensuring that your Ayurvedic treatments and lifestyles are getting you the most optimal impact.
If you’re Vata:
Cool, dry, rough and light are the properties of vata. Eating food that is warm, moist, oily, smooth, and nourishing neutralizes excess dryness, and thus balances excess vata. The vata is calmed by lubricating and nourishing the tissues, while supporting digestion and the natural elimination of waste.
Eliminate food that is cold or frozen (including avoiding refrigerated water and beer!), large quantities of raw fruits and vegetables, and carbonated drinks.
Dry foods like popcorn, beans, dried potatoes and crackers are examples of drying food that may exacerbate excess vata. Strongly limit your intake of stimulants like caffeine and nicotine. Also avoid grains of Barley, Buckwheat, Cous Cous, Millets and Oat Bran.
Fasting should be avoided by people with a predominant vata dosha.
A great way to pacify imbalanced vata would be by increasing the intake of warm or hot fluids like soups or stews.
Avocado, coconut, olives, buttermilk, cheese, eggs, whole milk, wheat, nuts and seeds, berries, melons, summer squash, zucchini, and yogurt.
Fruits like green grapes, oranges and pineapple are good for vata if consumed in small quantities. To the extent possible, make sure that a majority of the vegetables you are consuming are well cooked, garnished with ghee (clarified butter), coconut oil or olive oil whenever possible, and preferably eaten warm.
If you’re Pitta:
Hot, light, intense, penetrating, pungent, sharp and acidic are the properties of pitta, and an excess of pitta often manifests in the form of a fiery temperament and a hot body. To help both the body and the temperament remain calm, cool and composed, include food that is cooling, stabilizing and sweet and exclude food that is sour, salty and pungent.
Pungent or sour vegetables like tomatoes, hot peppers, carrots, beets, eggplant, onions, radishes, and spinach, and fruits like grapefruits, apricots, and berries are best avoided.
“Warming” spices like ginger, cumin, black pepper, fenugreek and cloves should be used sparingly. Chilli peppers and cayenne, that are intrinsically hot, should be avoided completely. Beef, eggs and seafood aggravate pitta and are best avoided too.
Buckwheat, corn, millet and brown rice, and the oils of corn, mustard and sesame aggravate Pitta and should be taken out of your diet to the extent possible.
Blander vegetables like asparagus, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, green leafy vegetables, pumpkins, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, okra, lettuce, green beans, and zucchini should be on the menu, as should predominantly sweet fruits like grapes, melons, cherries, coconuts, avocados, mangoes, pomegranates, fully ripe pineapples, oranges, and plums.
Use soothing spices like coriander, cardamom, saffron, and fennel as often as you can, and the recommended choice of oils for cooking (and dressings) are virgin coconut oil, olive oil and sunflower oil, as well as ghee (clarified butter).
Grains like wheat, white rice, barley and oats help balance pitta. Meats such as turkey, chicken and pheasant can be also consumed in moderation.
Whenever feasible, rather than drinking plain water, add a pinch of fennel or licorice to water, boil it and allow it to cool. This water pacifies the aggravated pitta and calms the body.
If you’re Kapha:
Cold, heavy, oily and intense are properties that define kapha-dominant people. Cold and damp conditions aggravate kapha, while warmth helps balance vitiated kapha. Foods that are warm, light and dry are best suited for kapha constitutions.
Fruits like oranges, bananas, avocados, pineapples, peaches, melons, dates and figs aggravate Kapha. Among vegetables, avoid juicy, sweet vegetables like zucchini, tomatoes (tomatoes can be eaten cooked), sweet potatoes, tapioca and other tubers.
Grains of oats, rice and wheat also aggravate kapha. Of all doshas, Kapha constitutions are most susceptible to a dosha-imbalance from the consumption of traditional fats such as dairy, nuts and most oils. Consumption of these must be highly regulated to keep your kapha in check.
Kapha constitutions should consume food that is light, pungent, astringent and bitter. Apples, pears, pomegranates, cranberries, and apricots are great for kapha constitutions. The spices like ginger, pepper, cayenne and black mustard help in balancing kapha, as do foods such as chicken, turkey, seafood and eggs.
Among grains, favor buckwheat, rye, millet and corn. If you’re finding it difficult to eliminate dairy from your diet, low-fat yogurt and low-fat milk are preferred options. If you miss cooking with oils – try using clarified butter (sparingly) instead. Sunflower and pumpkin seeds are acceptable options for nuts.
Drinking a few cups of organic green, black or ginger tea every day is helpful in maintaining the ideal kapha balance.