What if you could shed all fad diets and instead do something exclusively for you? You’d jump on the opportunity, right? In Ayurveda, there are three main mental and physical types of characterizations known as doshas: vata, pitta, kapha. Determining and understanding your dosha can help you not only eat better for but also feel better in your body. Knowing your dosha type takes the fuss, confusion, and overall frustration out of dieting and gives you a lifestyle you can approach with ease and satisfaction.
With so many dietary lifestyles out there, and each with a convincing enough argument to shadow the next, it’s hard to determine which one will work for you in the long term. Sure, it feels good to lose weight by eliminating sugar, carbs, or whatever the trendy culprit is of the moment, but doing so is not the end all be all. What about the rest? No one thing determines your health and happiness, and it truly takes customization (and a little experimentation) to get your diet just right. Sometimes the dietary rules fit for you aren’t so copy-paste, but rather unique and nuanced. Did you know your body shape, hair texture, bowel frequency, and general "aura", among many other specific traits, translate to a tangible dietary regimen?
Enter, your dosha. Your dosha takes your mental processes and physical stature to curate a lifestyle fit for you and no one else. The trick is mostly determining which of the three (or blend of the three) you qualify under and then taking the recommendations out for a test spin.
Who’s Your Dosha?
Ayurveda uses the 5 elements to construct doshas. Vata reflects space and air; Pitta fire and water; and Kapha earth and water.
The hardest part is figuring out what dosha applies to you. There are many online “dosha tests” to help you out, but the hands-down best way to determine your dosha is to book an appointment with an Ayurvedic expert who is trained to pinpoint your unique characteristics and how they relate to the world of doshas.
In general terms, you can break the three doshas down with a few defining features.
1. Vata Dosha
The vata dosha is linked to bodily functions associated with motion, including blood circulation, breathing, blinking, and the heartbeat. When in balance, vata types are creative and lively. When out of balance, vata types are fearful and anxious. Vata types are generally slender and tall, walk fast, have cold hands and feet, feel discomfort in cold climates, have a lively personality, exhibit quickly changing moods, maintain an irregular daily routine, show short bursts of high energy, are enthusiastic and joyful when in balance, act on impulse, respond to stress with fear and anxiety when out of balance, and tend to have dry skin and dry hair.
2. Pitta Dosha
The pitta dosha governs the energy that controls the body’s metabolic systems, such as digestion, absorptions, nutrition, and the body’s temperature. When in balance, pitta types are content and intelligent. When out of balance, pitta types experience anger. Pitta types have a medium build, a sharp mind, and the ability to concentrate. They are orderly, focused, assertive, self-confident, and entrepreneurial. However, pitta types can be aggressive, demanding, and pushy when out of balance. They have a strong appetite and are very irritated when they miss meals. Pittas generally make great leaders, but are vulnerable to temper tantrums, impatience, and anger. Pitta types have fair to reddish skin, often with freckles, and they feel uncomfortable in the sun or hot weather. They perspire a lot and typically experience rashes and inflammation of the skin, acne, ulcers, heartburn, acidic stomach, insomnia, and dry eyes.
3. Kapha Dosha
The kapha dosha encompasses energy that controls growth in the body. It supplies water to all body parts, moisturizes the skin, and regulates the immune system. In balance, kapha types are full of love and forgiveness. When out of balance, kapha types can succumb to insecurity and envy. Kapha types tend to have a sturdy, heavier build and are easygoing, relaxed, and slow-paced. They are affectionate, loving, forgiving, and compassionate. They think deeply and speak slowly and tend to experiences sluggish digestion despite excellent health and a good immune system. Kapha types are not easily upset and represent stability and calm amidst their surroundings. They are possessive of people and things. When out of balance, kapha types experience frequent colds, congestion, headaches, respiratory problems, and atherosclerosis.
Eat for Your Dosha
If the above descriptions were enough to categorize your dominant dosha, here’s how to eat accordingly. If you classify under two, or all of the doshas, try a few online dosha exams to weed out the most prominent, or consult an Ayurvedic doctor as soon as you can – it’s worth the effort!
Once you know your dosha(s), the rest is a matter of knowing what to embrace and what to avoid.
1. Vata Dosha Diet
Vata is cool, dry, rough, and light, so it is important to consume foods that neutralize these qualities. Consume warm, nourishing, dense, moderately heavy textured, smooth, oily, and moist foods. Shun cold and highly energetic foods, such as carbonated beverages, icy foods, raw fruits and vegetables, and cold leftovers. Try to pair any cold salad or raw greens and vegetables with a cooked element, such as cooked quinoa or seitan. Construct a dish so that it is moist and well lubricated, not dry and cold.
2. Pitta Dosha Diet
Pitta is oily, sharp, hot, light, spreading, and liquid, so it is advisable to eat foods that are dry, mild, cooling, grounding, stabilizing, and dense. Pitta types do well with raw fruits and vegetables, which are naturally cooling, unlike the other dosha types. Pitta doesn’t pair well with fiery hot dishes or sharply stimulating foods and beverages, like alcohol or caffeine. Opt for dry and dense foods that are grounding, such as potatoes, corn, millet, oats, pasta, beans, and popcorn. Avoid excess oils.
3. Kapha Dosha Diet
Kapha is heavy, cool, oily, and smooth. Neutralize these qualities with food that is light, warm, dry, and rough. Emphasize fruits and vegetables and salads and avoid foods that are too heavy, such as nuts, seeds, cakes, pies, wheat, most flours, breads, pastas, red meat, hard cheeses, puddings, and deep-fried treats. Favor warm foods over cool and cold ones, rough foods over smooth foods, and dry foods over moist and oily ones. Consume smaller servings to avoid overeating. Most spices are kapha pacifying and thus highly recommended. Fiery and spicy are fit for kapha types!
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