Ayurveda, the ancient sister science of Yoga, provides us with great insight into how we can balance ourselves and bring more health & healing into our bodies and minds with the use of something we do every day, multiple times a day - eating. There are 3 Body-Mind Constitutions (Doshas) according to Ayurveda - Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Each of these doshas are comprised of certain qualities that are found in nature. (If you don't know your dosha type yet, you can find it here)
In this blog post, I will go over some of basic ways in which you can use food to balance your dosha.
Vatas are comprised more of cold, dry, & rough qualities than the other two doshas, Pitta and Kapha. Because of this, they need to have foods that contain more of the opposing qualities. Vatas should have plenty of warm, nourishing, and heavier foods, and avoid adding more cold and dry foods into the body, When your body already has plenty of coldness and dryness, and you add more of the same, it will only lead to imbalances in the body and mind. Think of baking a cake. If you have all of your dry ingredients in the mixing bowl already, and you decide to add more flour and only half of the wet ingredients called for in the recipe, you can mix everything and place it in the oven to bake, but the end result will not be a proper cake because the ingredients were not balanced to produce a certain result. So knowing the "ingredients" that your body has naturally will help you to determine what foods will bring balance and what will lead to imbalance within yourself.
When it comes to choosing the types of food to eat, Ayurveda says that each meal should contain all 6 tastes - Sweet, Salty, Sour, Bitter, Pungent, and Astringent. But how much of each taste to consume depends on our individual constitution.
If you are high in Vata or are Vata dominant, you should have more of Salty, Sour and Sweet tastes and less of Bitter, Astringent, and Pungent tastes.
Vatas tend to have small or irregular appetite. Sometimes very hungry and often times just nibbling on little bits of food here and there. It is beneficial for Vatas to try to find a routine and set times to have their meals. This will bring more regularity and stability into their otherwise irregular or spontaneous nature.
The following are examples of foods for Vata Doshas - which foods to have more of and which to have less of.
Foods to Favor to Balance Vata
Foods to Reduce
Pitta doshas are comprised of hot, pungent, & sour qualities, they have strongest digestive abilities out of the three doshas due to the presence of fire & heat in their nature, like an oven with good consistent strong fire. They don't have problems with digesting food and they digest everything faster than the other dosha types. Don't make the mistake of making a pitta wait for food for long. They will breath fire and burn whoever is nearby if they get too hangry.
If they have an imbalance, they will have issues with acidity, reflux, nausea, rashes, and loose bowels.
To balance the pitta dosha, one should have more of Sweet, Bitter, & Astringent tastes and reduce Pungent, Sour, and Salty tastes. Pitta doshas should have 3 solid meals per day at regular times and remember to eat less spicy foods, and more cool natured foods, like milk or coconuts, to pacify the fire.
The following are examples of foods to favor and reduce for Pitta doshas.
Foods to Favor
Foods to Reduce
Kapha doshas are comprised of Cool, Oily, & Heavy qualities and generally have sluggish digestion. They may feel like they have food still in their stomach many hours after they've eaten a meal. Kaphas tend to love their food, however, and they can lean on the side of overindulging their tastebuds. They also love to share and make food for others around them. When out of balance, kaphas can have issues with phlegm or mucus, congestion, coughs, colds, and allergies.
To balance kapha dosha, one should increase Pungent, Bitter, and Astringent tastes and reduce Sweet, Salty, and Sour tastes. Kaphas should eat at the same time daily and can do fine with a very light breakfast or even skipping breakfast, larger lunch, then a moderate dinner. Kaphas should avoid eating late in the evening or night.
The following are examples of foods to favor and reduce for Kapha doshas.
Foods to Favor
Foods to Reduce
Try noticing how you feel when you eat certain foods and see if you can recognize a pattern in the way you feel with what you eat. Most likely, you’ll find a pattern that is typical for your individual constitution.
If you are Kapha dosha dominant and feel heavy and sluggish often, and eat foods that are also heavy in nature, you’re likely to feel even more heavy and sluggish. You can balance this by eating lighter & drier foods. If you are Pitta dominant and find yourself easily irritated or upset and have a diet that is high in spicy food, try reducing your spice consumption and have more of sweet and cool foods. You’ll notice your irritability will be greatly reduced. If you are Vata dominant and you often find yourself feeling unfocused or “spacey”, and you have a diet that is high in light natured foods, try eating more of heavier, sweeter, denser foods, this will help you to feel more balanced and grounded.
Hope this info. helps bring more balance into your life.
Let me know how it goes!
Ali is a certified ayurveda therapist, meditation teacher, and a healing arts practitioner. She is a former general manager of a yoga & detox center and is currently based in Thailand.