Eating to Balance your DoshaOct 28, 2022
If you've been following along the last few weeks, I’ve been writing about Ayurveda, the 5000-year-old, time-tested system of health and healing.
If you missed taking the Dosha test, be sure to check it out here: https://chopra.com/dosha-quiz
And read more about it here: https://www.pegmcphedran.com/blog/your-dosha
Basically, it’s an inquiry into your basic physical characteristics, as well as your mental and emotional tendencies, to assess your respective mind-body constitutions at birth.
Last week I talked about your Agni and the 6 Tastes, (no that’s not a rock band!): https://www.pegmcphedran.com/blog/agni-and-the-six-tastes
This week, we’re going to dive into what we can do if our doshas are out-of-balance! When working to restore balance, pay attention to your most prominent dosha. It's likely the first to become aggravated. That said, any of your three doshas may go out of balance depending on your present circumstances. Adjusting your diet can be very helpful in balancing your current mind-body physiology.
Vatas often have an irregular eating style, especially when the dosha is out of balance. Vata types get easily distracted, and forget to eat. This can create a sense that life is out of control.
When Vata types are in balance, they may establish a scheduled eating routine allowing them to feel centered and experience their natural enthusiasm for life.
When Vata types get out of balance, they may find themselves snacking and popping things into their mouths all day long, which is another manifestation of general anxiety.
The three tastes to favour, to balance Vata are sweet, sour, and salty.
Those with a Vata imbalance also need heavy, oily, or warm foods to ground. These foods offer moisture and weight to the otherwise dry Vata. While it's important to include all of the six tastes at every meal, Vata types will want to eat pungent, bitter, or astringent foods in moderation, as these increase air element, and when eaten be sure to eat warm, cooked, and moist.
Cooked, soft meals, hearty soups, and healthy fats and oils are important for a Vata-balancing diet. Try stir-frying foods to add oil and heat. Cold or dry foods can aggravate a Vata imbalance.
Pitta types enjoy a strong appetite and ability to digest food, information, and experiences.
As in every other area of their lives, Pitta eating is characterized by a need for predictability and order. Most Pitta types like to eat three meals a day and prefer to have those meals at the same time every day. They may feel ravenously hungry and grouchy if dinner is even half an hour late. When Pitta types are in balance, they enjoy vibrant energy and creativity. They are able to use their mental clarity and other gifts to create beauty, abundance, and well-being in the world and in their lives.
Out-of-balance Pittas may overeat as an expression of rage; they are literally swallowing their anger. Without being consciously aware of it, they may see habitual overeating as an act of rebellion, or as a reaction to an overheated digestive fire and appetite.
Pitta types need cooling and grounding foods. The three tastes to favour, to balance Pitta. are sweet, bitter, and astringent.
Foods with cooler qualities, especially in hot environments, can help to calm the digestive fire. The pungent, salty, and sour tastes increase Pitta and should be minimized, as they all add more fire element to the physiology. Spicy foods, salted fish, and sour foods such as alcohol and pickles will all tend to increase heat in the body, which is exactly what someone with a Pitta imbalance does not need.
Hot, spicy, and warming foods—while still important to include in moderation—can add fuel to a strong digestive fire. Balance these tastes with cooling herbs and spices, such as mint, cilantro, coriander, or saffron, and avoid adding additional and avoid adding additional table salt if you can.
Kapha types have an innate love of eating. If they ignore or deny other sources of pleasure, they can easily become addicted to food.
When Kapha types are in balance, they are able to express their naturally loving nature and enjoy the gifts of stamina and grace.
If out of balance, Kapha types have an inherent desire to avoid emotional issues both within themselves and with others. They may use food to suppress their intense emotions, but this only masks the feelings at their core, setting up a cycle of emotional eating.
Kapha dosha is heavy, cool, damp, and slow/stable. The bitter, pungent, and astringent tastes balance Kapha because they add dryness, warmth, and lightness to the body. They help to increase metabolism and reduce the body’s mass. Those with a Kapha imbalance need warming, light, and spicy foods to increase the digestive fire.
The three tastes to minimize to help balance Kapha are sweet, sour, and salty as these will increase earth and water qualities in the physiology.
This does not mean that a Kapha type can never eat foods with sweet, sour, or salty tastes. It's important to include all of the six tastes at every meal with the specific amounts adjusted according to one's current state of balance. Choosing lighter or less frequent meals will make digestion easier. Be generous with warming spices, such as cayenne, black pepper, ginger, and turmeric.
When we are in balance, we want to eat to keep our primary dosha, or doshas, in balance.
In order to feel satisfied after a meal, eat all six tastes with the specific amounts adjusted according to one’s prakruti (essential nature) and vikruti (current state of balance).
However, since any dosha can get out of balance, you may need to eat to balance the dosha that is currently out of balance.
Ayurveda teaches that all health-related measures—whether an exercise program, dietary plan or herbal supplement—must be based on an understanding of an individual’s dosha.
As you have seen, your dosha reflects your innate tendencies, including your temperament, metabolism, energy level, learning style, and many other aspects of your body, mind, and emotions. You can nurture your inherent well-being by making choices to keep your dosha in balance.
When in balance, the types of foods that are optimal for you depend upon your predominant dosha. The foods that keep one person in balance, energized, and at their ideal weight may not be the right choices for someone with a different dosha. The doshas explain why some people can eat certain foods and feel fine, while others may experience heartburn or indigestion.
And remember, that Ayurveda encourages experimentation.
Try each of the 6 tastes, and notice how your body responds.
Use this information to make future food choices that will suit your dosha and keep you healthy!
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