Eating for your Dosha
Ayurveda, which translates to “knowledge of life”, is the vedic language of health, developed over 5,000 years ago in India. It is one of the world’s oldest health systems and is still practiced today as the main healthcare system in India and has gained popularity all over the world. It takes a holistic approach, examining a person’s constitution and emotional wellbeing, in order to achieve and maintain balance and vital health.
According to Ayurveda, we are all composed of different energies and elements, the elements being earth, air, fire, water and ether. Each dosha is comprised of a combination of these elements and helps to explain and identify the traits of each dosha. We are all made up of a combination of 3 doshas, with one or two usually being the most dominant. Although, there are rare cases of people who are tri-doshic, in which they have an equal combination of all 3. To find out your dosha, you can take a test here: https://www.mapi.com/doshas/dosha-test/index.html
The 3 doshas are vatta, pitta, and kapha.
Vata encompasses elements of air and either. People who are vata dominant tend to be thin, dry and usually cold. So, they thrive in warm, humid climates. They are incredibly creative, mentally and physically active, and love to travel and engage with new people. When they are out of balance, they can be anxious, indecisive, ungrounded, and flakey. They will suffer from constipation, stiff joints and dry skin.
In order to bring vata (or any of the doshas) back into balance, Ayurveda relies heavily on diet and routine. For Vatas, it’s extremely important to eat at regular intervals. Since its main elements are air and ether, a vata can be knocked off track quite easily and skipping meals is a frequent offense of vatas that tend to cost them their balance. They also need to consume a lot of water and focus of healthy fats to ward off the dryness. Foods like avocados, nuts, and oily fish are great foods for vatas. They should also focus on heavier, warm, wet foods like soups, stews, rice, curries, porridge and root vegetables. Flavors that help to balance vata are sweet, salty, and sour. Vatas should avoid stimulants, such as caffeine, alcohol and processed sugar because they can easily throw them off-balance. To achieve the sweet flavor, you should focus more or heavy more nourishing sugars such as maple syrup, dates and molasses.
Pitta is associated with the elements of fire and water. People who are pitta dominant tend to have a strong musculature and be very athletic. They are highly driven and goal oriented, often to a fault. They have fiery personalities and are very strong willed. If you want something done, get a pitta to help you accomplish it. But beware, because with all that fire also comes stubbornness, a competitive spirit and someone who is easily angered and aggravated. When out of balance, pittas can also suffer from rashes, diarrhea, inflammation and acne. In order to balance pitta, you should consume foods that are cooling in nature. Lots of raw vegetables and salads that include cucumber, watermelon or mint. Cruciferous vegetables are also really good for pitta because of their bitter and astringent flavors. Meat, alcohol, ginger and spicy foods should be avoided. In addition to astringent and bitter flavors, sweet is also a good flavor for pittas.
The last dosha is Kapha. Kapha people are grounded, loyal, trustworthy and calm. They are difficult to anger and are the token peacemakers. They tend to have larger builds, low metabolisms, rely on comfort and routine and if they aren’t shaken up, can easily become complacent or lazy. Kapha translates to “that which sticks”, so they can suffer from other illnesses relating to too much dampness or mucus in the body, depression or attachment issues. It’s important for kapha people to try and travel, experience new things and have a regular routine of exercise in order to combat these tendencies. Because kaphas are comprised of the earth and water elements, they should always eat small meals, focused primarily around vegetables and whole grains and skip sweets, desserts, and heavy or oily foods. The flavors that balance kapha are bitter, pungent and astringent.
So now that you know that each person is made up of these elements defined as doshas, you should also know that the seasons are also represented by doshas. Kapha is the wet season, starting when the snow stops and spring rains begin. It ends when the temperatures begin to increase and the rains decrease. We then move into pitta season, when the temperatures are hot. In fall, we move into vata season, when the trees atart to lose their leaves and everything dries up for the year. In addition to eating for our personal dosha, we should also be eating for the season. Cooling, light foods in summer for pitta season. Dense, warm, wet foods in the fall and winter for vata season. Astringent and bitter foods to awaken the body in spring for kapha season.
There are so many ways to choose to eat these days and a lot of information coming at us from different sources. Ayurveda has been around long before health crazes, crash diets, and the long lists of do’s and don’ts that we see every day. I encourage you to explore this gentle, compassionate approach to health and nourish yourself with the foods and behaviors that will help your specific dosha thrive. There are many resources out there for Ayurvedic lifestyles and specific cookbooks designed to help you balance your dosha through food. Have fun and explore this rich and wise way of living!