After you determine your predominant dosha or predominant dosha combination, you will be able to make lifestyle choices that will help your mind and body to become more balanced.
You feel best when your doshas are in balance. It takes some awareness of what it means to be out of balance.
An imbalanced dosha is one that has been increased to a point that it causes aggravation in the mind and bodily functions, and if left uncorrected can lead to disease.
For example, your dosha is out of balance if you have these symptoms:
If you feel overly anxious about many things, and unable to concentrate, you may infer that Vata is in a state of overabundance and has too much influence over you.
If you are feeling angry and inhospitable toward others or toward yourself, you may infer that Pitta has run amuck and is adversely affecting you.
If you have been feeling sad and lazy for a while, you may infer that Kapha has increased too much and is working diligently to keep you down, on the couch, snacking and watching television.
Imbalanced doshas are caused by various lifestyle choices made that do not align with your particular doshic constitution.
Corrections of an out-of-balance dosha can be made with dietary choices, sleep schedule adjustments, work schedule changes, frequent warm oil massages, frequent yoga practice, and daily meditation. Meditation, even if it’s just for two minutes a day will bring benefits to you. The good news is that implementing just one of these things can make a big difference in the way you feel, by helping to bring your doshas back into balance.
This post will focus specifically on diet. Ayurveda takes diet seriously and uses food, herbs and spices as medicine to help adjust and then keep our doshas balanced.
The following suggestions will help you make the best dietary choices for your constitution.
Ayurveda has broken down food, herbs and spices into six distinctly different tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent. Each taste has a different energetic effect on the mind and body. Tastes are either irritating or pacifying to the doshas.
For example, Vata people have a tendency to have dry skin and too much astringent foods like apple, pear or pomegranate have a drying effect and irritate and provoke Vata to increase.
Pitta people have frequent heartburn and a tendency to be hot. Too much hot/sour food like lemon, sauerkraut or alcohol have a heating effect and irritate and provoke Pitta to increase.
Kapha people have a tendency to be lethargic, and too much sweet food like banana, dates, pumpkin for example, have a sluggish, mucous thickening effect and irritate and provoke Kapha to increase
Some signs of out-of-balance Vata:
dehydration, dry skin
powerful desire for warmth
Some causes of out-of-balance Vata:
Consumption of too many pungent, bitter, astringent tasting foods.
Some ways to pacify an out-of-balance Vata:
Consumption of sweet, sour and salty tastes and warm, moist, easily digestible foods like: honey, maple syrup, steamed vegetables, ripe fruits, warm nut-milk, soups with rice or barley, and mung beans.
Mild spices, such as, cumin, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, fennel, coriander, salt, cloves, mustard seeds and black pepper.
Drink tea, two to three cups a day, such as, chamomile, fennel, ginger, licorice or lemon.
Some signs of out-of-balance Pitta:
turned inward can increase self-criticism, and cause perfectionism
Some causes of out-of-balance Pitta:
consumption of too many sour, salty, pungent tastes.
Some ways to pacify an out-of-balance Pitta:
Consume more sweet, bitter and astringent tastes and cool, heavy foods, such as, raw vegetables, boiled or steamed vegetables, sweet fruits, moderate amount of dairy, soups with grain like rice, wheat, barley, oats.
Mild cooling spices, such as, coriander, cardamom, cloves, turmeric, cumin, curry leaves, and mint.
Drink tea two to three cups day, such as, fennel, chamomile, peppermint, spearmint licorice, or red clover.
Some signs of an out-of-balance Kapha:
mental and physical fatigue
desire for warmth
desire for spicy foods
water retention and mucous overproduction
tendency to gain weight
Some causes of out-of-balance Kapha:
excessive food consumption especially sweet, sour, and salty tasting food.
Some ways to pacify out-of-balance Kapha:
consume light, warm diet of pungent, bitter and astringent tastes like:
boiled, steamed, raw vegetables
ripe fruit – except for banana
buttermilk, but no other dairy
grains like corn, millet, rye, oats, and barley
strong spices, such as, black pepper, red pepper, paprika, salt, garlic, basil, cloves, allspice, fennel, mustard seeds, turmeric, cumin, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, and coriander.
use honey instead of sugar
drink tea, such as, cinnamon, fenugreek, peppermint, and raspberry.
Remember all three doshas are always present in the body at all times. There is simply a different degree of predominance depending, in part, on your dietary choices. Your age, the season, climate, amount of exercise are some of the other factors that have an effect on dosha balance, but diet is a major factor.
Once balance of the three doshas is achieved it is maintained with the use of all six tastes each day. Most foods are composed of more than one taste. The following is a chart to help determine the Ayurvedic taste categories.
Six Tastes and how they affect doshas:
|Sweet: Vata decreasesPitta decreasesKapha increases||Sour:Vata decreasesPitta increasesKapha Increases||Salty:Vata decreasesPitta increasesKapha increases|
|most grains like rice, barley, corn, wheat, etc.Milk and sweet milk products like cream and butter and gheeSweet fruits like coconut, dates, figs, grapes, pear, mangoes and especially dried fruits (without sulphur)Cooked vegetables like potato, sweet potato, carrot, beet root, cauliflower, string beans.
Sugar in any form – raw, refined, brown, white, molasses, sugar cane juice
|Sour milk products like yogurt, cheese, sour cream, etc.Sour fruits like lemons, limes, oranges, pineapples, passion fruit, cherries, plums.Fermented substances like wine, beer, vinegar, soy sauce, sauerkraut.||Any kind of saltAny food to which salt has been added like pickles, nuts and chips|
|Pungent:Vata increasesPitta increasesKapha decreases||Bitter:Vata increasesPitta decreasesKapha decreases||Astringent:Vata increasesPitta decreasesKapha decreases|
|Hot spices like chilies, black pepper, mustard seeds, ginger, cumin, cloves, cardamom, garlic, etcMild spices like turmeric, anise, cinnamon and fresh herbs like oregano, thyme, mint, etc.Raw vegetables like radish, onion, cauliflower||fruits like olive, grapefruit, green leafy vegetables like spinach, green cabbage, brussel sproutsSpices like fenugreek, turmeric||Turmeric, honey, walnuts, hazelnuts, cashews.Pulses, or legumes, i.e. beans, lentils, peas, dahlVegetables like sprouts, lettuce, green leafy vegetables, most raw vegetables.Fruits like pomegranate, berries, persimmon, lemon, cranberry, most unripe fruit.|