Eating for your body type is a completely holistic way of viewing nutrition, and takes all the guess work out of knowing what is healthy for you. It ensures you are giving what your body needs to be in a balanced, happy and vital state. The benefits are not only felt in the physical body, but also seen in your emotional and mental wellbeing.

According to Ayurveda, our bodies are made up of a combination of 3 main forces called Doshas; Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. These are made up of two of the 5 universal elements (a combination of space, air, fire, water and earth). Our unique combination of these Doshas gives us our ‘mind and body type’ that corresponds to our personality and physical traits.

Knowing your mind body type, simply referred to as your Dosha, is the key to health in Ayurveda, and maintaining its balance is the aim.

There are several ways to determine your body type but the most accurate is through a detailed consultation by an Ayurvedic practitioner.

Ayurvedic Nutrition
The best way to ensure the balance of your Dosha is through your daily diet. Ayurveda stresses the importance of using food as medicine in this ancient proverb – ‘When diet is wrong, medicine is of no use. When diet is correct, medicine is of no need’.

Ayurveda is based on the knowledge that ‘like increases like’ – meaning that if you consume foods which are similar to your Doshas qualities, they will increase their effect in the body. For example, if someone with a hot Pitta nature were to eat excessive pungent and spicy foods, this would be adding fuel to their already present innate fire, and may cause symptoms of acidity such as heartburn and ulcers.

Ayurveda pays attention to the qualities of foods, more so than the calories, vitamins, nutrients contained within it. Foods beneficial for each body type are based on their taste and quality.

The Ayurvedic diet identifies six tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent. Each taste has a different effect on the mind and body; either aggravating or pacifying a particular dosha. The quality of the food is also important to consider – is it heavy or light? Dry or oily? Hot or cold? As this ultimately affects the balance and functioning of the mind and body.

Eating for Vata Dosha
Vata is primarily the wind energy in the body, and has the qualities of being cold, dry, rough, light and mobile. Vata types are prone to imbalances of constipation, gas, anxiety, fear, overactivity of the mind, disturbed sleep, and joint pain and stiffness.

Excessive consumption of the bitter and astringent tastes with cold, dry, raw, and light qualities contribute to this imbalance.

Balance Vata with sweet, sour, salty tastes, and warm, moist, easily digestible foods.

Foods best for Vata are:

  • Soups, stews, casseroles, porridge, curries and Dahl’s
  • Mild spices: cumin, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, sea salt, cloves, mustard, black pepper
  • Cooked vegetables such as pumpkin, squashes, asparagus, fennel, zucchini, carrot, parsnips, beetroot, celery, leeks, and sweet potato. Root vegetables are best for Vata.
  • Sweet ripe fruits
  • Grains including basmati rice, oat, amaranth, quinoa, kamut, spelt
  • Oily nuts and seeds such as cashews, walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts and macadamias are best for Vata. Nuts should be soaked overnight and lightly dry roasted to aid digestion and absorption.
  • Avoid crackers, bread, biscuits, and raw foods

Eating for Pitta Dosha
Pitta is our Fire energy and has the qualities of being hot, sharp and intense. Pitta types are prone to imbalances of acidity, irritability, inflammation and diarrhoea.

Excessive consumption of foods that are of acidic nature with spicy, salty or sour tastes contribute to these imbalances.

Pittas should favour foods that are cool in nature with sweet, bitter and astringent tastes.

Foods best for Pitta are:

  • Boiled, steamed, raw vegetables. All green leafy vegetables are best
  • Sweet fruits, especially the juice
  • Moderate amounts of fresh, organic dairy such as cottage cheese, mozzarella, quark
  • Ghee
  • Rice, wheat, barley, oats
  • White meat such as chicken and turkey
  • Mild, cooling spices: coriander, mint, cumin, fennel
  • Avoid red meat, coffee, alcohol, chilli, sour fruits, fermented foods, vinegars

Eating for Kapha Dosha
Kapha is our water and earth energy that has the qualities of being smooth, dense and slow. Kapha types are prone to imbalances of weight gain, fluid retention, congestion, excessive mucous production and sluggish bowels.

Excessive consumption of sweet, sour and salty tastes and heavy, oily and cold foods contribute to this imbalance.

Kaphas should favour light, dry, and warm food with pungent, bitter and astringent tastes.

Foods best for Kapha are:

  • Grilled and roasted foods
  • Lighter fruits such as apples, pears, pomegranates, cranberries, dried figs, mangoes, raisins, apricots, berries, cherries, mango, peaches, and prunes.
  • Grains such as corn, millet, rye, oats, barley
  • Strong spices: black pepper, paprika, garlic, basil, cloves, allspice, mustard, turmeric, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, clove, hing, a little chilli
  • Honey instead of sugar
  • In general, all vegetables are recommended especially pungent and bitter vegetables like beetroot, carrot, celery, leafy greens, onion, radish, asparagus, cabbage, cauliflower, eggplant, garlic and capsicum.
  • Avoid heavy foods such as banana, soy, sugar, wheat, and dairy.

Written by Tegan Wallis

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