Ayurvedic Diet - How To Eat For Your Dosha
If you asked me what an Ayurvedic diet was a few years ago, I would have given you a puzzled look and wondered if such a thing existed. All I knew back then was that Ayurveda was some exotic Indian thing. It's hard to believe that, right?
It was only later when I had a burnout that I started looking for solutions. I dived deep into the the world of holistic wellness and I discovered Ayurveda...
...and I started re-looking at food in a brand new way. Ayurveda taught me to look at food as medicine and not just a source of pleasure & survival.
Just like most young people around me, I grew up on a steady diet of junk food and I was unapologetic about it. It’s not like I never ate healthy but there's no denying that I ate a lot of processed stuff which was doing more harm than good to my body.
You see, the thing is - when you’re in your late teens & 20s, you hardly care about these things. But as I grew older and began to build a positive relationship with my body, I realised that I had to start eating Ayurvedically - which meant eating more wholesome nourishing foods.
The Basic Principle of Ayurvedic Diet
If you’re thinking this whole ‘Ayurvedic diet’ might just be a fad, think twice because Ayurveda says...
...you are what you eat.
Ayurveda believes that good health begins in your gut. If you have strong digestion, you’re likely to be in good health. Want to be well? You can start with a simple step - look at what you’re eating every single day and ask yourself if that is helping your body.
I know you’ve probably heard this hundreds of times but Ayurveda does say that food is your medicine as long as you eat the right stuff in the right way. But Ayurveda also takes it a step further - it focuses on eating according to your dosha or prakrati.
Umm… So What Is Prakriti and Dosha?
Ayurveda tries to understand your body through your prakriti or your mind-body constitution. Just like how your fingerprint is unique in the world, so is your prakriti.
Actually your prakriti is formed during your conception and includes the physical and emotional qualities you’ve inherited from your parents and ancestors.
I know this sounds a bit woo woo, but stay with me...
These qualities and features remain constant throughout your life despite any changes or life events you undergo.
Prakriti is fueled by 3 doshas or elements - Vata (Air), Pitta (Fire) and Kapha (Earth). These 3 elements are present in a unique combination in each one of us.
Never heard of this before? Then you might want to read this longer post on Ayurvedic doshas.
Once you get your Prakriti right, you can use Ayurvedic principles to pep yourself from head to toe.
How To Eat For Your Dosha
Once you learn Ayurvedic cooking, you'll know how to eat for your dosha. Let's take a look at the 3 dosha types and what they should eat and avoid:
VATA (space & air)
A Vata girl is like a flying spacey pixie and I can say that coz that’s my predominant dosha. Vata tends to be cold, airy, spacey and always moving. I tend to feel colder than other people and have dry skin. My energy is usually very high but I also get fatigued from time to time for no obvious reason.
If you’re a Vata like me, chances are that you’re creative and energetic but you’re also a worrier.
Physically, Vatas are short, slim and their bodies adapt quite quickly. Emotionally, they’re excited about life in general and love making good conversation. As a Vata, if you are imbalanced physically and emotionally, you can suffer from aches, arthritis, constipation, weight loss, anxiety and insomnia.
If you're experiencing a Vata imbalance, a Vata pacifying diet can do you good.
Foods to eat
Being a Vata type, I love a bowl of warm food which is not too heavy and I like to add healthy fats to it which make it even better. Over the years, I’ve discovered that salty, sour and sweet-tasting foods work best for me.
As a Vata, I enjoy a warm soup, stew, porridge, casseroles, bread, unsalted nuts, and nut butters (almond butter is my favorite and I can eat spoonfuls of peanut butter with no guilt).
If your dominant dosha is Vata, then you should have a hot cup of herbal tea daily (I recommend drinking tea between 4 to 5 pm each day). All sweet fruits (so long as they are extra-ripe) are OK for Vata. Warm drinks and hot water are best for Vatas.
Every Vata person should include mild spices in her diet. I call them the 4Cs - cinnamon, cardamom, cumin, clove and the 2 Gs - ginger and garlic. Here's a longer post on spices to balance Vata.
Boil or even better steam your veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini and leafy greens. Stick to ripe fruits (overripe ones are great for you). Have rice and wheat. The best teas for Vata are camomile ( I love this tea for a good night’s sleep), fennel, ginger, licorice and lemon.
Foods to avoid
If you have a Vata imbalance, you have to ensure that you don’t have too much cold food & drinks (I’m talking about salads, raw veggies and iced drinks). Caffeine, sweets and unripe fruits are a no-no too (and they’re also generally not that great for anybody)!
Wondering what else to avoid as a Vata? Don’t eat too much bitter, astringent and spicy stuff because it can throw your system out of balance.
Recipes for Vata
Don't know how to make kitchari? Here's a video on how to cook kitchari like a boss:
And my favorite Ayurvedic dinner recipe is this unusual but flavorful tofu cauliflower curry with rice.
PITTA (fire & water)
A girl who plays with fire certainly is the Pitta type. The Pitta element is responsible for your body’s digestion, metabolism and energy. Do you know what a person with a predominant Pitta dosha is like? Let me tell you about my feisty friend Maria who’s always on fire.
So, Maria qualifies as a Pitta type because she has all the physical characteristics of one - medium build, normal weight, clear skin and lots of energy. Her hair’s a beautiful red (sometimes a Pitta can have that) but it’s also thin which is typical to her dosha. Like any other Pitta, Maria has such great digestion that she can eat anything anytime and still feel fine (I so envy her).
When Maria’s not doing great health-wise, this is what happens - her skin breaks out into rashes, she feels too hot and sometimes she gets heartburn and indigestion. Now, you see, that’s what happens when the Pitta dosha gets imbalanced.
Maria embodies a typical Pitta personality. Being super smart and very focused, she is her own boss and great at making decisions. I have also seen how her Pitta imbalance affects her emotions - she can easily fly into a temper and pick arguments (and that’s when I run for the door).
Foods to eat
After Maria discovered that her dosha is Pitta (thanks to me), we started to figure what foods could bring her dosha back in balance. Maria discovered the best food for a Pitta like her is cool or warm but definitely not hot (coz that creates more heat in her system). She now sticks to bitter, sweet, and astringent tasting flavors.
Here’s Maria’s advice to other Pitta types like herself - Have food that cools you down in the summer like salads and don’t forget the ice cream! Make sure to drink a cup of mint or licorice infused tea daily. Begin your day with cold cereal and toast sprinkled with cinnamon powder (she likes a cup of apple tea to go along with it).
After discovering her Pitta dosha, Maria turned vegetarian because she figured that eating all that red meat was heating up her body. These days her Ayurvedic diet contains plenty of veggies, grains and dairy products.
If you're Pitta, you'll find these Pitta diet guidelines very useful.
Foods to avoid
There was a time when Maria loved her coffee and alcohol. She’d also end up eating a lot of junk that was deep fried, salty and spicy. After having years of health issues and looking for solutions desperately, she chanced upon the Ayurvedic diet when I invited her over for dinner.
No prizes for guessing that she has now rebalanced her Pitta dosha! Wanna know how?
By eating right and avoiding butter, vinegar, pickles, fermented food, sour cream and cheese (her favorite thing in the whole wide world). She only has an occasional glass of wine plus she’s totally cut down on hot, oily, spicy, fried and high-sodium snacks. So, no more fries!
Recipes for Pitta
Maria’s always loved toast for brekkie but these days she’s hooked to this delish Turmeric Mango Banana Smoothie (it’s one of my fave Ayurvedic breakfast recipes too). We did a picnic by the lake last week and she brought these scrumptious Tofu Tacos with Greens for lunch.
Whenever she heads over to my place for dinner, I customize food for her dosha - I make this Buckwheat Salad with Yogurt Cardamom Dressing that she absolutely loves.
KAPHA (water & earth)
Jess, my bestie at work is a complete water baby and as you would’ve guessed by now, a Kapha type. After feeling down and out for a few years in a row, she finally consulted an Ayurvedic expert who helped her determine her dosha.
I always had a hunch that Jess was Kapha because she has the typical physical features of one - tall, broad-boned, strong body, amazing stamina, smooth skin.
Not only that, her emotional outlook completely matches the Kapha dosha type - calm, considerate, patient and supportive. When emotionally out of balance, it’s hard for a Kapha to let go of things and they can be too attached and even stubborn (and Jess is the same).
Jess had been struggling with weight gain, mild depression and asthma since she was in her teens. From an Ayurvedic viewpoint, she was experiencing a Kapha imbalance which was causing all these health issues.
One day while we were having lunch at work, I told Jess how I’d switched to an Ayurvedic diet and was feeling way better than ever before. Jess had tried so many diets and nothing had worked for her - it was always like she’d lose a few pounds and gain again.
Although she was a bit skeptical about Ayurveda in the beginning, Jess finally decided to give it a try.
Are you a Kapha too? Then here are tips that will help you eat for your dosha.
Foods to eat
Ever since Jess started eating for dosha, she looks lighter and revitalised. Here’s what she’s brings to work - warm, light, cooked food (which isn’t too moist or oily) and salads. Since spicy is good for Kaphas, she started to get Mexican or Indian takeout too.
Jess is also trying out a lot of dry cooking methods like baking, grilling and sautéing which suit Kaphas better (as opposed to steaming and boiling). She’s also adding spices like turmeric, cumin and fenugreek to her food.
If your dosha is Kapha, be sure to read these Kapha diet guidelines.
Foods to avoid
Jess says if you’re a Kapha, then avoid sweets, rich foods and cut down on the salt ( coz that causes fluid retention). To stay in balance, she uses ghee and oil sparingly. Deep-fried foods, sugary drinks and too much dairy are a strict no-no for Kapha dosha.
Recipes for Kapha
Looking for an Ayurvedic breakfast recipe for Kapha dosha? I suggest this Greens & Fresh Herbs Frittata because it is dry, spicy and light.
Fancy a yogi bowl for lunch? You’re gonna love this Ayurvedic lunch recipe for a Sweet Potato Yogi Bowl. And let’s not skip dinner. A light supper works the best for a Kapha - how about Curried Lentils & Coconut Rice topped with Roasted Carrots tonight? Sounds yum, right?!
Before I wrap up this post, here's my personal advice to you - the Ayurvedic diet is not a ‘diet’ in the popular sense of the world. It is eating the way nature intended us to - so that each one of us can be our brightest and fittest, shining that special light of ours.
Are you ready to eat for your dosha and show love to your body? If your answer is a resounding yes, go for it girl and don’t forget to share and pin this on Pinterest, so that every woman like you can make food her medicine!