With diets in every shape and size, adding another into the mixed seems short-lived. Fad diets are rarely based on any medicinal or nutritional value, but instead, the fastest route to shedding kilos.
An Ayurvedic diet, or way of living, turns that idea on its head. Rather than eating to gain another body type, the foods you eat are directly sourced for your Dosha -- or, your body type. With three distinct body types in Ayurveda, also known as “life knowledge” in Hindi medicine, many people identify with more than one type. You may have a few questions about how and why a Ayurvedic diet may be beneficial to your health now, so we’ve answered the most common as best we can.
“What are the three Doshas and which one am I?”
As a full disclosure, the best way to find out your Dosha(s) is to speak to an Ayurvedic physician. You can, however, make an informed judgement about your Dosha based on your body type. From there, you can modify your diet to include or exclude foods that will promote better health.
Vata: traditionally a Vata has a thin build, light frame and agility like a cheetah. Eating a Ayurvedic diet will help Vata dosha predominates reduce their stress and feed their naturally creative minds, as they can often suffer from mood disorders, such as anxiety and hypertension, and insomnia.
Pitta: known for their ‘inner fire’, or fiery temper, tend to have a medium build and a warm body temperature. Pitta Doshas generally have good digestion, which can influence their decision to eat whatever they feel, rather than the suggested cool foods and fluids. Their Ayurvedic diet helps to control skin rashes, excessive body heat, heartburn and indigestion, as well as their emotional wellbeing.
Kapha: the last of the Doshas, Kapha, holds a larger frame than the other two. They’re both slow and steady like a tortoise, and feel out of balance through weight gain, oversleeping, asthma, diabetes and depression. A balanced Kapha diet favours food that are light, dry or warm.
“What should I consider when eating for my Dosha?”
Just like in any diet, there are some restrictions to what you can eat. The difference with an Ayurvedic diet, to a ‘normal’ diet, is that the rules in place are guided by what your particular body type needs to be truly balanced and nourished. So instead of viewing your new guidelines as rules, build them into your routine and notice the way you feel when you ‘break’ a rule.
By now, you certainly have at least some idea which one of the three Doshas you most fit into. Whilst all Doshas have differing nutritional guidelines, they all rely on the way your body’s metabolism and structure.
Vata Dosha Ayurvedic Foods
As a Vata would generally have a colder body type, it is recommended they consume a diet with warm and easily digestible foods, think curry and soups. Other well-known Ayurvedic guidelines for a predominantly Vata Dosha include:
- Eat fruits that are warmed or cooked.
- Cooked, starchy vegetables are recommended.
- Favour sweet and salty tastes, rather than spicy or bitter.
Pitta Dosha Ayurvedic Foods
When a Pitta is out of balance, it is usually in the form of aggression. Diet plays an important part in this, as Pitta Doshas are partial to the oily, fried and spicy foods which they should avoid. Instead, sweet or bitter flavours are recommended, along with:
- Dairy, to balance the heat of a Pitta, such as milk, butter and ghee.
- Place emphasis on ‘sweeter’ fruits (cherries, mangoes, oranges, etc.)
- When cooking, use spices that are soothing (coriander, cardamom), rather than full of fire, like cayenne and chilli flakes.
Kapha Dosha Ayurvedic Foods
As a Kapha Dosha has a heavy build, foods that stabilise and promote physical and mental agility are best, meaning a diet high in sugars or fats is a no-go. To live in balance as a Kapha, it is beneficial to:
- Only consume foods that are light and dry, reducing the intake of sweet and sour flavours.
- Reduce the intake of dairy, as it aggravates.
- Eat fruits that are lighter, including apples, pears and apricots.
“If I want to start eating an Ayurveda diet, what must I know?”
At the heart of Ayurveda is digestion. It is believed that all good health starts with good digestion -- just think about how nasty you feel when you eat too quickly, or too much, or at the wrong time of day. Ancient texts, known as sloka, reads that “food is medicine when consumed properly”. That’s a key message here: “when consumed properly”.
Excited by a balanced diet that works with, not against, your body? Not a diet aimed at molding you into something you’re not? Take all your questions to an Ayurvedic physician and find out why eating to your Dosha could change the way you view your health -- and your body!