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Dieting for Your Dosha According to Ayurveda

by Sally Wright |

Dieting for Your Dosha

At Frownies we think it is interesting and fun to look into all cultures and ways of improving your life's quality. Ayurvedic medicine (“Ayurveda” for short) is one of the world's oldest holistic (“whole-body”) healing systems. It was developed more than 3,000 years ago in India. It's based on the belief that health and wellness depend on a delicate balance between the mind, body, and spirit. 

How Your Dosha Affects Your Skin

Vata imbalance can produce blackheads. Dryness in the body can cause an overproduction of oil, clogging the skin. Pitta imbalance may cause inflammation and toxins to accumulate, resulting in red, painful pimples. Kapha imbalance can create cystic acne due to excess dampness in the body.

The ancient practice of Ayurveda believes we're made up of three different 'body types' that correspond to our physical and personality traits, known as doshas.  Ayurveda philosophies believe we each contain varying proportions of each dosha, generally one or two in dominance. Our naturally dominant dosha does not signify imbalance, but rather who we are in our most healthy, balanced state. 

The three types or doshas in Ayurveda are called: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. We are going to talk about deciphering your dosha type and sticking to a diet that works for you, what foods suit your doshic makeup and some signs of imbalance. 

    Mind-body health and harmony

    Mind-body health and harmony may be challenged when any of the doshas become aggravated or imbalanced. Identifying your predominant dosha and potential imbalances, which an Ayurvedic practitioner can assist with, is the Ayurvedic secret to keeping your mind-body balance in check. 

    What's your dominant dosha?

    According to GP and Ayurvedic therapist at Bondi's Ayurvedic Wellness Centre, Dr Shaun Matthews, "dosha types typically display varying characteristics",the list below may help you determine your type. 

    Vata

    Light build

    Naturally creative

    Sensitive

    Prefer warm, humid climates

    Dry skin

    Pitta

    Medium, muscular build

    Productive, hard-working

    Irritable

    Prefer cold climates

    Fair skin

    Kapha

    Heavy build

    Stable, methodical

    Easy-going

    Prefer warm, dry climates

    Oily skin

    Equal proportions of two ('bi-doshic) or all doshas ('tri-doshic') is also possible.

    Dine for your doshic imbalance

    Regardless of body type, imbalances of any dosha can occur in response to lifestyle factors. Consider this: naturally athletic Pittas can lose weight due to Vata excess, or gain weight as a result of Kapha excess. Ayurveda repairs imbalances predominantly with herbal remedies, warm oil massages, yoga, and lifestyle changes, particularly diet.

     

    The Ayurveda diet identifies six tastes

    the foods we eat can be categorized into six tastes, sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent  Each taste has different energetic effects on the mind and body; either aggravating or pacifying particular doshas. For example, considering Ayurveda's theory of 'like increase like', someone with pitta excess may add fuel to the fire by consuming hot, spicy foods. 

     

    Balancing Vata

    "When Vata is aggravated, your system becomes irregular and depleted, which affects weak organs and tissues," explains Dr Rama Prasad from Chatswood's Ayurveda Elements.

    Additional signs of Vata imbalance:

    Constipation

    Dehydration

    Anxious

    Craving warmth

    Frequent viral infection

    Weight loss

    Disturbed sleep

    Excessive consumption of bitter, astringent and spicy tastes contribute to Vata imbalance. Prasad recommends pacifying with sweet, sour and salty tastes and warm, moist, easily digestible foods like:

    Boiled or steamed starchy vegetables (moderate broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini and leafy vegetables)

    Ripe fruits

    Warm milk (moderate dairy)

    Soupy grains: rice, wheat

    Mild spices: cumin, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, fennel, coriander, salt, cloves, mustard, black pepper

    Tea: chamomile, fennel, ginger, licorice, lemon

    "Nourishing soups, casseroles and dahl's are great for balancing Vata, particular during winter," suggests Dr Matthews.

    Balancing Pitta

    "When Pitta is unbalanced, you can become aggressive and irritable. Internalizing that fire can increase your self-critic, resulting in perfectionism," says Dr Matthews.

     

    Additional signs of imbalance Pitta

    Diarrhea

    Over-heating, profuse sweating

    Colorful, violent dreams

    Excessive hunger

    Frequent bacterial infections

    Heartburn

    Dr Prasad believes Pitta imbalance may result from excessive alcohol or hot, spicy, oily, fried, salty, fermented foods. He suggests re-balancing with sweet, bitter and astringent tastes and cool, heavy foods including:

    Boiled, steamed, raw vegetables

    Sweet fruits

    Moderate amounts of dairy

    Soupy grains: rice, wheat, barley, oats

    Mild, cooling spices: coriander, cardamom, cloves, turmeric, cumin, curry leaves, mint

    Tea: fennel, chamomile, peppermint, spearmint, licorice, red clover

    Balancing Kapha

    "When Kapha is unbalanced, there is a tendency for mental and physical stagnation. Stimulation of all kinds helps to avoid that heavy, lethargic feeling," advises Dr Matthews. 

     

    Additional signs of imbalance Kapha

    Sluggish bowels

    Procrastination

    Craving warmth, spicy foods

    Frequent candida

    Water retention

    Weight gain

    Excessive sleep

    Dr Prasad advises excessive food consumption can contribute to Kapha imbalance, and recommends a light, warm, low-fat diet of pungent, bitter and astringent tastes like:

    Boiled, steamed, raw vegetables

    Ripe fruits (except banana)

    Fat-free buttermilk (other dairy reduced)

    Grains: corn, millet, rye, oats, barley, wheat-bran

    Strong spices: pepper, paprika, salt, garlic, basil, cloves, allspice, fennel, mustard, turmeric, cumin, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, black pepper

    Honey instead of sugar

    Tea: cinnamon, fenugreek, peppermint, raspberry

    In the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda, you really are what you eat; so discover and dine for your dosha to restore holistic health of hips, head and heart.