Food is a keystone when it comes to maintaining robust health and Ojas (vitality). As per Ayurveda, a healthy diet is always a principal means of creating health and wellness in your mind and body. This ancient system of healing aims to heighten your overall health and wellbeing by recommending a diet that suits your prakariti (your body constitution and vikriti (dosha imbalance), your lifestyle, and seasonal change. The foremost Ayurvedic rule of eating is that there is no one-size-fits-all guideline for Aahar or diet that should be recommended for all.
Ayurvedic rules of eating
Ayurveda recognizes six tastes that we should take in our diet – sweet, salty, sour, pungent, astringent, and bitter. Each rasas or taste has specific health benefits. When we incorporate all six tastes into our diet, it not only satiates us but also nourishes us. As per Ayurveda, when we only incorporate some specific tastes into our diet, it not only affects our health but also triggers our cravings for unhealthy foods. For example, all packaged foods and fast foods are high in salt and sugar, which develops cravings for sweets and salty things. When you add bitter, astringent, and pungent things, they can help in taming the desire for sweets and salty things.
Ayurveda and doshas
Have you ever thought that why some people tend to put on weight so easily and some are thin naturally? Some people are always hyperactive, and some tend to be lethargic most of the time. Well, you might be surprised to know that Ayurveda has all the answers. Yes, Ayurveda presents these answers to you in the form of three doshas – Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. It is said that every person has a unique combination of doshas, with one dominant more than others. One person might have a dominant Vata and another might have a dominant Kapha dosha. This unique combination of three doshas defines their ayurvedic constitution and helps them to achieve a state of optimal health. So before jumping into the Ayurvedic eating rules for your doshas, let’s understand what are the characteristics of doshas are and what kind of doshas you might belong to?
Understanding Vata dosha
Vata doshas are mostly comprised of air and space elements. The nature of Vata is cold, dry, irregular, rough, quick, and flowing. A person with Vata dosha has a generally small build and is creative and energetic in nature. They tend to get distracted very easily, and their mood changes a lot depending on the weather, the types of people around them, and the kind of food they are eating.
- Weakness: When imbalanced, people with Vata doshas are prone to anxiety, mood swings, and forgetfulness. They tend to get overwhelmed easily, are sensitive to cold, and tend to suffer from insomnia. They also suffer from poor digestion and flatulence.
Best food for Vata dosha
People with Vata dosha should consume more warm and nourishing foods with heavy textures. Add butter and a good fat such as ghee, which is great for Vata dosha. Warm fluids such as warm milk, butter, cream, soups, stews, herbal teas, and hot water are best for Vata dosha. Fresh baked goods, nut butter, nuts, and all sweet fruits, especially if they are well ripened, are great for Vata dosha.
- Spices: All warming spices such as ginger, cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves are great for Vata.
Food to avoid
As per ayurvedic diet plan, people with dominant Vata dosha should avoid raw, cold, and dry foods such as cold salads, raw vegetables and fruits, too many caffeinated drinks, and super-sweet candies. They should avoid barley, chickpeas, red wine, buckwheat, popcorn, rice crackers, and millet in their diet as these can aggravate the Vata dosha.
Pitta dosha consists of fire and water elements, and they are known for their strong and firm personalities. People with dominant pitta doshas are of medium and muscular build. They are generally athletic in nature, motivated, competitive, and very goal-oriented. Pitta dosha have very strong digestion, a great metabolism, and great skin. They are self-determined and possess a very strong desire for success.
- Weakness: When out of balance Pitta may be prone to acne breakouts, and inflammation, show a sudden outburst of emotions, short temper, anger, and become sensitive to hot temperatures.
Best Food for Pitta dosha
As per Ayurvedic diet plan, people who have dominant Pitta dosha should not eat very hot food, their food should be cool or mildly warm. The best food for Pitta should be something bitter, astringent, and sweet. They should eat cool, refreshing foods such as salads, ice cream, milk, and mint herbal tea which are highly beneficial for pitta. Consuming lots of vegetables such as sweet potatoes, lettuce, cucumber, okra, pumpkin, and broccoli is great for pitta along with grains and milk.
- They can consume fruits like pineapple, orange, mango, grapes, melon, cherries, and coconuts.
- Spices: They should use some soothing spices such as cardamom, saffron, and fennel seeds
Foods to avoid:
They should avoid red meat and beef in their diet as it generates heat in the body. In pitta disha, avoid sour vegetables such as onions, carrots, tomatoes, eggplant, salted butter, sour cream, etc. They should also avoid warming spices such as chilli pepper, fenugreek, cloves, black pepper, ginger, etc
Kapha consists of water and earth elements. They are of a heavier build with excellent stamina and very smooth and radiant skin. They are slow, heavy, very steady, stable, and soft. The Kapha dosha holds all the fluid movement, solidity, and structure of the physiology. It also provides immunity, as its primary function is immunity. They have a great sleep cycle and normal digestion. When the Kapha is aggravated in the body, it can cause weight gain, allergies, and fluid retention. Generally, people with dominant Kapha dosha tend to be a support system for others, rarely get upset, and like to go through life in a slow and steady manner.
- Weakness: When out of balance Kapha, they become overweight as they resort to food for comfort. They become very lethargic; develop breathing issues such as asthma; are prone to cardiovascular diseases; become susceptible to anxiety and depression, and turn to people for constant encouragement.
Best food for Kapha dosha
The best food for Kapha dosha is warm, dry, lightly cooked food. Their meals should be cooked in a little bit of ghee or oil. Anything spicy goes well with Kapha dosha, especially in winters. Veggies such as romaine lettuce, cucumbers, zucchini, cabbage, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, onions, spinach, and celery. They can eat fruits such as mangoes, berries, pears, raisins, plums, peaches, and apples.
- Spices: The most preferred spices for Kapha doshas are turmeric, cumin, sesame seeds, fenugreek.
Foods to avoid:
They should avoid deep-fried foods and need to watch their consumption of sweet and salty foods such as bakery products and junk food, as it can lead to fluid retention in the body. Since Kapha has a tendency to overeat, they should not snack. Sticking to their main meal timing is great for them. They should also avoid dairy products, sugar, chilled drinks, and cold food.
These are some eating regulations as per Ayurveda. When it comes to the ayurvedic diet rules, there is so much to like about them as they focus on individual constitutions, which is beneficial for your overall health. But it can be quite confusing as the list of foods is quite extensive. However, if you are intending to follow an ayurvedic diet, then it is best to ask an ayurvedic practitioner.