What is an Ayurvedic diet? Does my diet suit my dosha?

Since I have been practising Ayurveda it has become apparent how much people like to talk about their diet and how easy it is to engage in conversations about what we eat. The issue is that, for each of us ‘diet’ means something slightly different and due to articles in the media the idea that a diet, rather than nutritional intake, is increasingly embedded in the subconscious as a restriction. There will always be those lifelong dieters who, unfortunately, will see nutrition as a struggle and have come to believe that they will never be able to relax about what they eat and drink.

So looking at nutrition from an Ayurvedic perspective, it need not be a trigger to sigh and roll your eyes thinking that you will have to give up everything you love to eat or to clear out the fridge and replace all the food in the cupboard with lentils or chickpeas! In fact, taking into account the number of diet-trendsetters who sing about superfoods such as broccoli, grapefruit and quinoa, this should in fact allow for a sigh of relief to learn that Ayurvedic nutrition is simple. 

What is my dosha? 

The law of nature shows us that like attracts like. The three main constitutions or dosha that exist in Ayurveda are Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Our physical dosha is an easy one to determine unless an imbalance exists which may have led to certain physical symptoms. Generally speaking Vata types tend to prefer to graze throughout the day, snacking on fruit, nuts and dry foods. They (myself included) love crackers and crispy foods and are often petite, skinny or slim with long limbs. Pitta folk are the most disciplined of all, as reflected in their physical makeup, being the most muscular and athletic of the dosha. Pittas need their fuel and are the most susceptible to becoming ‘hangry’. They may find themselves raiding the fridge or biscuit tin in desperate times! Pittas have a sweet tooth and for them food needs to be filling and satisfying. Food is a source of comfort for Kapha people. This is the most problematic of the three dosha because Kapha people have less will-power and slower digestion. Comfort food tends to fall into the ‘beige’ category meaning they are heavy and fattening therefore Kapha people are more prone to gaining excess weight.

So what should I eat?

The idea of eating foods that suit your dosha does not mean feeding it with like-for-like properties as this often aggravates it and causes imbalance due to excessively increasing the nature of said dosha. Think of a weighing scale that has been overloaded on one side. The time-old advice ‘balance is key’ in short, is the easiest way to answer this question. If you knew that certain foods aggravated your system by causing indigestion, bloating or a rash you would undoubtedly avoid it, even if it turned out to be raw foods, certain fruits or even fresh tomatoes!

The qualities of the three dosha are:

Vata: dry, light, cool, rough, mobile, subtle and clear.

Pitta: oily, hot, sharp, light, sour odour and liquid.

Kapha: oily, cold, slow, dull, smooth and static.

Therefore, eating foods which share the qualities of the dosha will contribute to an imbalance. The symptoms of the imbalance will vary greatly and not only impact upon the physical body but the energy levels, mood, temperament and sleep too. 

In very general terms Ayurveda suggests that we keep our dosha in balance by considering the qualities of the food we eat and using nutrition to restore balance by not aggravating the dominant dosha. If you feel that Ayurveda can help you then email melanie@vedahealth.co.uk or @vedahealthuk on social media to get in touch.