Ayurvedic diet & dosha types: a beginner’s guide

Avatar for Declan Davey and DW Pardasani By in alternative medicine, ayurveda, complementary medicine, diet, wellbeing on 23/03/2021
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No kidding, the traditional medicine of Ayurveda is over 5000 years old at this point! Hard to comprehend, isn’t it? But with the focus on prevention and mind-body synergy, learning about the different dosha types and custom Ayurvedic diets is extremely useful to adapt your lifestyle for optimal wellbeing.

‘Sounds good,’ you might be thinking, ‘but what is a dosha?’

Don’t worry, because we’ve got you covered!

According to Ayurvedic principles, each individual is born with a combination of three life energies. These are called doshas.

The blend of Kapha, Vata, and Pitta doshas bring your physical and mental characteristics to life.

And the cool part is, each person has a unique combination. Ayurvedic practitioners refer to your unique character traits as Prakriti.

With us so far? Excellent!

Top tip: An easy way to remember the three life energies is like this: Kapha is associated with earth and water. Vata is associated with air and ether. And last but not least, Pitta is associated with both fire and water.

ayurvedic diet
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When your doshas are in balance, you can enjoy optimal health and wellbeing. In many ways, it’s simple. But keeping everything in balance can be tricky when life gets hectic.

In Ayurveda, imbalances are referred to as Vikruti. You may notice you feel out of sorts if this occurs. However, the symptoms or disease you present with will depend on which dosha is more dominant within your character.

A little confusing to figure out? The good news is, Ayurvedic practitioners are trained to recommend lifestyle changes or an Ayurvedic diet appropriate for your dominant dosha type.

Once these recommendations are in place as part of your daily lifestyle, you should find that your health returns to balance and a feeling of wellness.

Dosha analysis: which type are you?

Dosha types. Shall we talk about them?

Yes, let’s! While we each have varying degrees of each of the Kapha, Vata, and Pitta doshas, one (or sometimes two) will typically present as more dominant.

Being aware of your dosha ‘vulnerabilities’ can allow you to more quickly notice when your health may be struggling. You’ll also be able to better understand what to do to restore harmony to your body.

Without this knowledge or intervention, you may continue to feel unwell and out of balance.

When you are not at peak health, you may feel the following, depending on your dosha type:

  • Kaphas may feel lethargic, depressed, or have sluggish digestion. They may also experience fluid retention or experience weight gain.
  • Vatas may suffer from insomnia, anxiety, or feel isolated. They may also experience decreased mental acuity or feelings of insecurity.
  • Pittas may present with nausea, acne, or inflammatory disorders. They may also feel frustrated or have low blood sugar.
ayurvedic diet
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Working with an Ayurvedic practitioner, you can determine your dominant dosha type and figure out how best to support your health.

Feel free to search for practitioners near you if you want to browse who is available. Alternatively, you may wish to take this quick dosha quiz: take quiz.

Ayurvedic diet for Kaphas

Kapha types are loyal, grounded, tolerant, and forgiving.

They are also physically and emotionally strong and possess good stamina when they are balanced.

However, when an imbalance does happen, Kapha dominants may present as needy, greedy, and insecure. Oh-oh…

The ideal Ayurvedic diet for Kapha usually consists of warm, light, or dry food and lightly cooked meals.

Preferred cooking methods include baking, grilling, roasting, stir-frying, steaming, and boiling. Fried and fatty food should be avoided.

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A vegetarian diet can suit Kapha dominant people well, but limited consumption of chicken, lean fish, and turkey are fine too.

Kapha dosha types should avoid red meat. Additionally, while Kaphas may have pulses, they have low protein requirements. As a result, they don’t need to compensate for reduced meat intake through their beans and legumes consumption.

Some Kaphas may experience fluid retention. To help manage this, Kapha dominant clients are advised to monitor their intake of sugar and fatty foods.

People with this dosha type might also find it difficult to digest cold dairy products like ice cream and frozen yoghurt. It’s likely to be best to avoid dairy and cold food or drinks in general.

On the flipside, herbs and spices are a Kaphas best friend!

Cumin, sesame, garlic, and ginger are particularly beneficial and can help improve your digestion.

Ayurvedic diet for Vatas

The ancient Ayurveda belief system states that Vatas are charming and quick learners. Not only that, but they’re highly adaptable and creative to their very core.

Vatas revel in warmer weather and live a fast-paced lifestyle, which can sometimes leave them quite fatigued if their stamina is limited.

When there is disharmony, Vata dominants may present as nervous, anxious, and afraid.

ayurvedic diet
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Ayurveda says that the energy of Vata dominant people is cold and dry. With this in mind, warm and nourishing foods with heavy textures help to keep them balanced.

A suitable Ayurvedic diet for Vata types is one that favours cooked vegetables and meals over raw options like salads. Similarly, cold or iced beverages are not recommended.

Sweet and juicy fruits like bananas, mangoes, apricots, and berries are good for Vata dominants, as are dairy products and meat.

Interestingly, while added butter and good fats can help achieve optimal health and wellbeing for Vatas, sugar and caffeine should be avoided.

Some herbs and spices like cumin, turmeric, ginger, garlic, and saffron are good for a Vata-based Ayurvedic diet.

But hold up a second! Because herbs and spices should only be used in moderation. Bitter herbs or spices like coriander, parsley, and thyme ought to be avoided where possible.

Ayurvedic diet for Pittas

Pitta dominant people are intelligent, insightful, and have developed mental acuity. They are considered natural-born leaders but may also be quick-tempered.

When Pitta types experience disharmony they may become irritable, reckless, jealous, and impatient.

According to Ayurveda, either cool or warm food with moderately heavy textures are best for this dosha type. While Pittas prefer bitter-tasting food and beverages, they should avoid things that are sour, pungent, or salty.

For example, sweet and bitter fruits like plums and mangoes are encouraged, but sour ones are not.

ayurvedic diet
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Like their Kapha dominant counterparts, Pittas function well on a predominantly vegetarian diet. Vegetables can be eaten raw – particularly in warmer months – but cooked veggies are also fine.

Spinach, asparagus, green beans, green capsicum, Brussels sprouts, and carrots are just some of the recommended veggies for Pitta dosha types. However, tomatoes, raw onions, and chillies are best avoided.

A Pitta-friendly ayurvedic diet includes one that is low in added fat, salt, oil, and butter. Other restrictions extend to alcohol, fried or fatty food, and spicy food.

Vatas can incorporate a small amount of green coriander, cinnamon, mint, saffron, or turmeric to help enhance the flavour of their meals.

Want to learn more?

Thanks for stopping by, you fabulous reader, you!

Top tip: While this serves as a guide for beginners interested in learning about the Ayurvedic diet and dosha types, we recommend consulting an experienced Ayurveda practitioner.

Why? Because you will get first-hand support to learn about your dominant dosha(s) and receive a customised diet plan. With these tools in place, your health can blossom to its full potential.

Avaana has some great ayurvedic practitioners to choose from. You’re welcome to click here to get started on your Ayurveda journey!

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Reviewed by Declan Davey (Health Writer) on 17/06/2021

Health Writer | + posts

Declan Davey is a health writer with a background as a psychological therapist. He has provided therapies for a range of NHS health services and wellbeing charities. Website: https://www.declandavey.com/

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An experienced writer and media and communications professional, DW is the chief content officer at Avaana. She loves dogs and basketball. As a classically trained dancer, DW credits her wellbeing to alternative therapies.

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