Ayurveda, the ancient study of life and wellness, provides you with all the tools to keep your body and mind in healthy harmony. As you already know, diet plays a huge role in your wellbeing; following Ayurvedic principles when it comes to food will help you nourish yourself with the right kind of fuel to enjoy better health and balance.
Depending on your Ayurvedic type, or Dosha, you’ll have a specific set of dietary requirements to stay healthy. (Pssst… Wondering what your dominant Dosha is? Check out our Ayurvedic Type blog post and take the quiz to find out!)
Did You Know? You possess a blend of all three Doshas – Vata, Pitta and Kapha – but you’ll usually find that one is more dominant than the others. Those with an even balance of two Doshas are bidoshic, and those with an equal blend of all three are tridoshic.
Some Ayurvedic Lingo:
Here are a few useful Ayurvedic terms and the meanings behind them.
- Agni: Digestive fire & metabolism; Agni burns fuel & produces clean energy.
- Ama: The dampening of Agni; digestive imbalance, accumulation of toxins & the root of all disease.
- Ojas: Essential life energy & vitality; Ojas is achieved by eating pure (sattvic) foods & cultivating radiant health.
- Prakruti: Your constitution; your own unique blend of the three Doshas.
- Sattvic: Pure, fresh foods that nourish the body & are easy to digest, promoting the flow of Ojas.
Basic Ayurvedic Principles of Eating:
No matter what your Dosha is, following a few simple Ayurvedic rules can help keep Ama at bay:
- Listen to your body; stay hydrated, don’t overeat, and give your system the chance to digest your previous meal before eating again.
- Eat highly nutritious, fresh & unprocessed foods, in the right portion sizes for your metabolism.
- Take your time; sit down in a calm, comfortable space, eat slowly & savour your food.
- Eat your meals at regular times, to keep your natural cycles in balance.
Feeding your Dosha:
Once you’ve identified your Ayurvedic Dosha, you can “eat right for your type”, feeding your body with the right kinds of sattvic foods and supplements that won’t dampen your Agni.
As a Vata-type, you’ll typically have a light frame and low body weight; you’ll feel cold easily and get tired pretty quickly. To balance out the light, quick-paced and airy nature of the Vata Dosha, use your diet as a way of grounding yourself.
Vatas should be careful to stick to a regular meal schedule and keep cold or frozen foods to a minimum.
- Warming foods & soft foods
- Salty, sweet & sour tastes
- Cooked lentils, rice & mung beans
- Soft warm cereals like oatmeal
- Warming spices; cinnamon, cloves, cumin, ginger, mustard seed, sage
- Sweet fruits; berries, cherries, banana melons, citrus, fresh figs & dates
- Fresh & cooked veggies; carrots, onions, sweet potato, peas, pumpkin, spinach
- Healthy fats; extra virgin olive oil, peanut oil, ghee
- Light & dry foods
- Unripe/ astringent fruits
- Bitter fruits & vegetables
- Dried fruits & frozen veggies
- Frozen desserts (ice cream, popsicles etc)
Top Vata Tip: To give yourself sustained energy throughout the day, try and eat a hearty Vata-friendly breakfast in the mornings, like a bowl of warm oats topped with chopped banana.
Recipe for Vata Pacifying Dhal:
- 3 cups chana dhal or yellow split peas, rinsed
- 4 cups pure water
- 1½Tbsp ghee
- 1Tbsp fresh ginger root, grated
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1½tsp ground coriander seeds
- ¾tsp fresh ground black pepper
- 1½tsp turmeric powder
- 3 bay leaves
- ¼tsp freshly ground cinnamon
- ¼tsp cardamom
- 3½ cups mixed Vata-friendly vegetables; carrots, asparagus, sweet potato etc
- Combine the dhal, water, ghee, ginger, garlic & bay leaves in a pot; bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat, cover & simmer for about 30min.
- Remove from heat, place in a blender & blend until smooth.
- Return the mixture to the pot; add the vegetables, spices & 4 more cups of pure water.
- Bring to a boil, then cover & simmer for 15-20min, adding salt to taste.
This is a filling, warming & soft dish, perfect for Vata.
Pitta-types tend to be fiery and full of passion. If you’re Pitta dominant, you’ll typically have a very strong digestion and be able to process a wide variety of foods efficiently. However when Pitta “overheats” or becomes unbalanced, you’ll typically experience heartburn, acid reflux, indigestion or inflammation.
Keep your Pitta Dosha calm with a diet rich in mild, cooling foods.
- Cool, juicy & warm (not hot) foods
- Bitter, sweet & astringent tastes
- Raw foods
- Fresh chickpeas & sprouted mung beans
- Sweet & bitter vegetables; broccoli, cabbage, celery, peas, cucumber, leafy greens
- Sweet fruits; apples, avocados, coconut, melons & mangoes
- Cooling herbs & spices; mint, cilantro, fennel, lemongrass, coriander seed
- Barley, oats & basmati rice
- Spicy foods
- Salty & sour foods
- Acidic fruits & veggies; tomato, grapefruit, berries, hot peppers
- Garlic, onions, chilli & cayenne
- Butter & added fat
Top Pitta Tip: Chewing on a few fennel seeds after a meal can help to calm stomach acid – a great remedy for those times when Pitta gets too hot to handle!
Recipe for Pitta Cooling Kitchari:
- ½ cup white basmati rice
- 6 cups pure water
- ½ cup whole green mung beans
- ½ burdock root, chopped (or substitute 2 carrots)
- 1½ cups fresh green beans, chopped
- 1 small zucchini, chopped
- 2Tbsp ghee
- 1Tbsp coriander powder
- 1tsp turmeric
- ½tsp fennel seeds
- 1tsp cumin seeds
- 1tsp fresh ginger, grated
- 1 stick kombu or wakame
- Pinch of sea salt
- Wash the rice & mung beans; soak for approx. 3 hours beforehand. Drain soak water.
- Warm the ghee over medium heat. Add the fennel seeds, cumin seeds & ginger; sauté for 1-2min.
- Add the rice & mung beans; sauté for another 2min. Add the burdock, green beans & zucchini; stir for 1min.
- Add 6 cups water & bring to a boil.
- Add the salt, coriander, turmeric & kombu. Reduce heat to medium low, cover & cook until tender (30-45min).
- Serve garnished with fresh cilantro.
If you’re a Kapha-type, you’re more likely to gain weight easily and struggle to keep it off. To keep your body and mood in balance, complement the steady slowness of Kapha with more light, dry foods and invigorating spices in your diet.
Avoid too many oily or milky foods, as these can aggravate Kapha imbalances like congestion, sinus problems and high cholesterol.
- Light, hot & dry foods
- Easily digestible foods
- Puffed cereals; puffed rice or puffed corn
- Stimulating spices that improve digestion; turmeric, chilli & ginger
- Small astringent grains; millet, quinoa, canihua & amaranth
- Dried fruits; apricots, raisins, figs
- Light fresh fruits; apples & pears
- Light & bitter vegetables like leafy greens
- Heavy or cold foods that are hard to digest
- Butter, oils & sugar
- Sweet & juicy veggies; cucumbers, pumpkin & sweet potato
- Sugary sweets & snacks
- Heavy, floury desserts like pastries
- Refined starches, like white bread & pasta
Top Kapha Tip: Intermittent fasting can be very beneficial for Kapha-types, who typically have a slower digestion and metabolism than the other Doshas.
Recipe for Kapha Curried Quinoa with Chickpeas:
- 1 large carrot, sliced
- 1 cup chickpeas, cooked
- 1Tbsp raisins
- 1Tbsp cashews
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 1Tbsp sesame oil (or olive oil)
- 1Tbsp curry powder (or combine cumin, allspice & saffron)
- 1½ cups quinoa or canihua
- 3 cups water
- Salt to taste
- Toast the grain in a dry skillet beforehand, to give it a delicious roasted flavour.
- Sauté the onion & cashews in the sesame oil, until the onions turn soft & brown.
- Add the quinoa, carrots, curry powder & raisins. Sautee on low heat to bring out the curry & coat the grain with the oil.
- Add the water & bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover & simmer until the grains are translucent, approx.15min.
- You can also add Kapha-friendly veggies like cabbage, kale or dandelion to the mix.
A light but satisfying meal for Kapha-types.