Do you know which foods make you feel nourished? Fulfilled? Happy? Energetic? What about the foods that make you feel heavy? Cause bloating? Cause headaches? Eating according to your dosha type is a great way to give your body what it needs to feel good and thrive.
What’s all this dosha talk? In Ayurveda, the 5000 year old science of life, there are three doshas, or body types. Pitta, Kapha and Vata. Everyone has all three but you are more dominant in two which make up your primary and secondary dosha. For example I am a Vata-Pitta. Vata being my primary, which I am most of and Pitta being my secondary. Your primary dosha is based on genetics and doesn’t change your entire life. Knowing your dosha information will help you find the right diet and remedies that work best for you. But, being mindfull of all three doshas is important. When all three doshas are in balance you are in perfect health.
Find out your dosha type with this quiz
The three doshas are….
Pitta – Represents fire + water. Pittas tend to run hot both physically and mentally. They have a medium athletic build, are very passionate and driven and tend to be perfectionists. One of their downsides is they create problems that don’t really exists when feeling too balanced. When out of balanced they can get irritable, angry and their body’s can get inflamed. They do best with sweet, hydrating, bitter and cooling foods and should avoid salty, heavy foods and stimulants like coffee and alcohol in excess. Relaxing activities, like yoga and fishing, that promote a sense of calmness are ideal for Pittas.
Kapha – Represents water + earth. Kaphas are nurturing, calm and loving. The tend to have a wider build and are very strong. When out of balance they tend to be congested, gain weight easily, lethargic and depressed. They do best with dry, warming foods, pungent-heating spices, light proteins and raw vegetables and should avoid high fat foods, heavy proteins like red meat, dairy, gluten, sweets, processed foods and starchy vegetables in excess. Kapha types benefit from having some cardio in their routine to get stagnant energy moving.
Vata – Represents space + air. Vatas tend to be dry, thin, anxious and scatter brained. They take on many projects at once and are very sensitive to cold weather. They do best with oily, grounding, hydrating and warming foods and should avoid iced drinks, cold foods, citrus, stimulants like sugar and alcohol and dry foods in excess. Grounding activities like yoga, pilates and weightlifting are ideal for Vata types.
How to eat according to your dosha –
Foods well suited for Vata are warm liquids and foods like teas, soups and stews, cooked vegetables, warm spices, good quality oils and whole grains. An example of a good menu for Vata is: Start out the day with warm lemon water, followed by warm oatmeal with fresh berries for breakfast. Lunch could be a hot Beef and vegetable soup with whole grain bread and grass-fed butter. Green tea and juicy fruits like peaches and nectarines are great snack options in the afternoon. A good dinner would be Tofu and vegetable curry over brown rice.
Pitta types do well with herbal teas, citrus, salads, sea vegetables, fresh fruit, rice, fresh herbs, seeds and light proteins like chicken and fish. An example of a good menu for Pitta is: An acai bowl for breakfast topped with berries, hemp and sunflower seeds, tuna-avocado sushi rolls with seaweed salad for lunch, lots of cool water throughout the day and an orange for a snack. A good dinner would be Chicken with lemon and herbs and a side of fennel salad and rice.
Kapha types do well with foods like beans, salads, warm teas, quinoa, ginger, cayenne, crunchy vegetables and light proteins like chicken and fish. An example of a good menu for Kapha is: A green juice or fruit smoothie for breakfast. A nice big kale salad with lots of crunchy vegetables for lunch, ginger tea with raw honey and a piece of fruit like an apple or a pear for a snack. A good dinner would be grilled fish with spicy stir fried vegetables over quinoa.
But don’t be too rigid with your diet. Just like you need to consider your dosha you also need to consider other things when it comes to your diet as well. The season, the climate and where you live can also dictate how you should eat.
The best way to choose the foods that will be best for you is to take it day by day. Every morning take a quick scan. How do you feel? What kind of mood are you in? What’s the weather like outside? What foods are in season? How is your digestion? Are you having any cravings? Your body and your surroundings know what you need, listen to them.
Just because my dominant dosha is Vata doesn’t mean I eat to balance Vata every single day. Some days I get up very congested and need to balance Kapha by removing cold wet foods from my breakfast like yogurt and adding in more heating spices like ginger throughout the day. Other days I get up and its very warm outside and I feel more in the mood for a cold smoothie or a refreshing salad to balance my Pitta. Its all about how you feel day to day, moment to moment that determines how you should eat.
Whatever your dosha type may be, eating whole foods and avoiding processed foods is always the most important thing. That being said don’t be too strict on yourself. Enjoy your life. Cheat from time to time. Have some pizza or that piece of chocolate cake if you want. If you try to live your life in balance most of the time it will know when it is ok to veer off track a little and when it’s time to get back on. So enjoy the ride.
Take some, leave some. There are many health systems and diets in the world that work for many people. For example, Ayurveda and Macrobiotics are complete lifestyles that are based in thousands of years of research. Then you have numerous diets like The Raw Diet, The Paleo Diet and The Zone Diet. They are all fascinating and all have truths to them. What is important is finding your truth and a lifestyle that works for you.
I tend to pick and choose which things work for me and not stick to any one system or diet in it’s entirety. I think you can learn a lot from all of them but that you should observe them for what they are from the outside while focusing on yourself from the inside.
Experiment on yourself. Know yourself. Eat accordingly.
Find a local Ayurveda Center…
If you would like to learn more about Ayurveda and how you can incorporate it into your life there is no better way than going to a local center and immersing yourself in it.
I found the Dhyana Center in Sebastopol by chance one day when I picked up an Ayurvedic cookbook at Whole Foods. The foreward was written by the owner of the Dhyana Center and since it was only located an hour away from where I live I decided to go check it out.
My first visit to the Dhyana center was a game changer. I took an introduction to Ayurveda class, my first kundalini yoga class, had my first Ayurveda massage (so much better than a regular old massage!), I used the self-care sanctuary where they have steam rooms, saunas and bathtubs and I tried my first “mocktail” at their apothecary bar. It was an experience I will never forget. I now bring family and friends there so I can share it with them. It is a truly special place.
Dhyana Center – A school, self-care center and community center for Ayurveda. There is also a retail shop where you can purchase many tools, spices and remedies used for the Ayurveda lifestyle.
Sarah Burchard is the author of The Healthy Locavore, a natural foods chef and experience host whose writing focuses on cooking, holistic health, supporting community and eating locally grown and made foods.