Ayurveda preaches that our bodies are made up of a certain kind of dosha – either vata, pitta, or kapha. In order to keep healthy, we need to balance our dosha. Yogi Cameron Alborzianwho has studied Ayurveda at the Arsha Yoga Vidya Peetam Trust under the guidance of Sri Vasudevan, explains how one can balance their dosha with the right foods, in his book ‘The One Plan’. He says, ‘Many people suffer from discomfort, imbalance, and even disease when they use food as a way to gratify themselves, but when it’s used as medicine, it can help us feel whole, content, and most of all, nourished. This is never more apparent than when you shift your body into a more balanced state by eating appropriately for the doshic imbalances you encounter.’ Here is an excerpt from his book on dosha-friendly foods.
Eliminate Dryness with a Vata-Balancing Diet
If you have excess Vata energy, you will likely have dry skin, produce a small, hard stool that is difficult to move, have trouble sleeping, and be prone to fidgeting, shaking, or other indications of excessive movement. A Vata-balancing diet requires us to eat foods that nourish the body, moisturize the gastrointestinal tract, and generally build strength and a sense of groundedness.
Foods to favour include the following:
Fruits (sweet fruits in particular ): apricots, avocados, bananas, blackberries, cherries, fresh figs, grapefruit, grapes, lemons, mangoes, melons (but not watermelons), nectarines, oranges, papayas, peaches, pineapples, plums, raspberries, strawberries
Vegetables (cooked vegetables in particular): asparagus, beets, carrots, cucumber, garlic, green beans, okra, onion, radishes, sweet potatoes, turnips, zucchini
Grains (cooked grains in particular): oats, wheat, white basmati rice
Dairy: cheese (in moderation), cow’s milk (whole), ghee, yogurt
Legumes (in moderation): mung beans, tofu
Nuts and seeds (in moderation)
Oils: almond oil, olive oil, sesame oil
Sweeteners: natural sweeteners (maple syrup, honey, molasses, jaggery)
Spices: cardamom, celery seed, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, fennel, garlic, ginger, mustard seed, salt, sesame seed
Reduce Heat with a Pitta-Balancing Diet
If you have excess Pitta energy, you likely suffer from skin irritation, profuse sweating, indigestion, and irritable thoughts. Generally, you have excess heat in your body, and you’ll benefit from a diet of foods that reduce heat. This will cause less distress in your digestive tract and allow you to experience greater peace.
Foods to favor include the following:
Fruits (sweet fruits in particular): apples, avocados, fresh figs, grapes (black or red), mangoes, melons, oranges, pears, pineapples, plums, pomegranates, prunes, raisins
Vegetables: asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cucumber, green beans, green peppers, leafy greens, mushrooms, okra, potatoes, pumpkins, zucchini
Grains: barley, oats, wheat, white basmati rice
Dairy: cow’s milk (whole), ghee
Legumes: black beans, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, mung beans, tofu
Nuts and seeds: pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds
Oils: coconut oil, olive oil, sunflower oil
Sweeteners: jaggery, maple syrup
Spices: cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, fennel, saffron (it is ideal to reduce your intake of spices when suffering from a Pitta imbalance)
Reduce Moisture with a Kapha-Balancing Diet
If you have excess Kapha energy, you likely suffer from respiratory congestion, asthma, and overweight or obesity, and feel lethargic and stuck. Excessive Kapha energy leads to a buildup of moisture, such as congestion in the respiratory system. When you balance Kapha energy through an appropriate diet, you will reverse heaviness in the body.
Foods to favor include the following:
Fruits: apples, apricots, blackberries, cherries, dried cranberries, dry figs, mangos, peaches, pears, persimmons, pomegranates, prunes, raisins
Vegetables: asparagus, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, cauliflower, eggplant, garlic, leafy greens, mushrooms, okra, onions, peas, peppers, potatoes, radishes, spinach, sprouts
Grains: barley, corn, millet
Dairy: ghee, goat’s milk (in moderation)
Legumes: garbanzo beans, green lentils, red lentils
Nuts an d seeds (in moderation): pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds
Oils: corn oil, mustard oil
Sweeteners: raw honey
Spices: black pepper, ginger, turmeric, and all other spices except salt
Ayurvedic Food Preparation
Whether you have a specific doshic imbalance you’d like to correct or you want to eat meals based on Ayurvedic practices for the sake of improving your health, you will benefit from preparing and consuming simple meals that provide basic sustenance for your body. Such meals consist of several vegetables cooked with some basic spices, white basmati rice, and if appropriate for your constitution and the time of day, some legumes. If you are seeking to balance a particular dosha, favor foods for balancing that dosha. If you are interested in having a generally nourishing meal, select foods from each of the three doshic guidelines.
For example, prepare carrots (Vata) and cauliflower (Kapha) with black pepper (Kapha), cumin (Vata), and coriander (Pitta). Serve this with coconut oil (Pitta) and white basmati rice (Pitta and Vata).
Take the following steps to prepare a basic dish of vegetables:
1. I f you are preparing your meal with seeds (cumin, fennel, mustard), put a small amount of oil in a wok over a medium heat. Add the seeds after the oil has heated for a minute or so. When the seeds pop, proceed to step 2. If you are only using powder, skip right to step 2.
2. Add diced vegetables to the wok with a small amount of water so that the vegetables will be steamed but not submerged. Add the powdered spices and stir.
3. Allow the vegetables to steam until the water has burned off, stirring occasionally. Immediately remove from heat.
4. Melt ghee or pour oil over the vegetables and stir.
5. Serve with white basmati rice, and if appropriate for the time of day and your body type, a dish of lentils or another type of legume.