Food is prana. Prana is energy. The energies are rajas, tamas and sattva, which define your well-being. Consuming an ayurvedic diet according to your dosha constitution will help you to balance these energies.
Remember that all living beings, including foods, consist of elements. These elements together form the dosha. Eating according to your dosha constitution helps you to have regular and healthy bowel movements, feel energised and prevent discomfort and disease.
When living an Ayurvedic lifestyle, you’d want to eat foods that are high in prana. These foods are fresh, bright, colourful, easy to digest, unprocessed and nutritious. Some people refer to a sattvic diet that is vegetarian, pure, essential, natural and rich in energy. Other people call this ‘the yogic diet’.
An Ayurvedic Diet – according to your dosha constitution
Depending on your dosha constitution, the foods that are right for you might differ from those that are right for your siblings, friends and fellow yogis. Let’s have a look at some guidelines that could help you improve digestion, according to your dosha constitution.
Effect on vata (ether and air):
Avoid: Pungent, bitter, astringent
Do eat: Sweet, sour, salty tastes
Bear in mind: eating in a calm, quiet, space and state of mind.
Effect on pitta (fire and water):
Avoid: Pungent, salty, sour tastes
Do eat: Sweet, bitter, astringent.
Bear in mind: cooking all foods so that they are easy to digest.
Effect on kapha (earth and water):
Avoid: sweet, sour, salty flavours.
Do eat: Pungent, bitter, astringent tastes
Bear in mind: eating smaller, lighter meals that are easy to digest.
The 6 tastes of ayurveda:
I hear you think. What is astringent? And what is pungent? What is considered salty or sweet? Some of the flavours go well with your dosha constitution, some will make your feel out of balance. Let’s have a look at the 6 flavours and download the ingredients list below to choose an ayurvedic diet according to your dosha constitution.
Astringent (Kashaya): Dry, bitter, cooling
Unripe banana, pomegranate, chickpeas, green beans, okra, cranberries, raw vegetables, pear, legumes and tofu. According to Ayurveda, your main meal of the day should include legumes or tofu to be complete.
Bitter (Tikta): Light, cooling, and dry
Raw kale, leafy greens, Brussels sprouts, fenugreek, dill, turmeric, cacao, coffee, most teas, zucchini, eggplant, fenugreek and fresh herbs. Sprinkling chopped green herbs on a dish provides the bitter taste.
Pungent (Katu): Heating, dry, and light
Cayenne pepper, chilli, black pepper, mustard, ginger, cardamom and radishes. Even though they sometimes taste delicious, they can cause extreme imbalances in the bowel track for certain people, so be mindful!
Salty (Lavana): heating and oily
Sea salt, table salt, celery, olives, tamari, sea vegetables, soy sauce, and miso. You know the drill; always be mindful about the amount of salt you use as it’s known to raise blood pressure.
Sour (Amla): Heating, oily, and light
Lemons, limes, grapefruit, sour apples, apple cider vinegar and dairy products like yogurt, sour cream,kefir, curd and buttermilk, but also tomatoes, and tamarind.
Sweet (Madhura): Cooling, heavy, oily
Grains, ghee, wheat products such as pasta and bread, sugar, dairy products including milk and cheese, and potatoes, beets, carrots, squash, parsnips, cucumber, many fruits and sweeteners like honey.
Other common dietary terms used in ayurveda are:
Brittle: hard but easy to break
Crisp: hard, thin and easily crumbled
Dry: very little moisture or liquid; not wet
Grains: wheat or other cereal used as food
Light: small in quantity and easy to digest
Oily: covered, soaked or containing oil
Soft: requires minimal amount of chewing
Spicy: things with a sharp, strong flavour that make your mouth feel hot
Warm: cooked, heated, prepared food
Ingredients lists per dosha:
Here’s a detailed list by The Ayurvedic Institute, a well-respected school recommended by my Ayurveda teachers at My Vinyasa Practice. This list makes it easy to see which foods help you stay balanced and which foods should be avoided according to your dosha constitution.
The ‘old wives’ tales’ are true: eating tips for all constitutions
- Eat in a calm, positive atmosphere without distractions.
- Eat & cook to digest; chew slowly, your digestion starts in the mouth.
- Food is medicine: don’t rush, don’t eat anything that’s too hot or cold.
- Don’t eat anything for the sake of eating – try and find the things you like and only eat when you’re hungry.
- Keep it simple, buy organic, unprocessed foods and don’t mix too many ingredients.
- Eat according to the season: it’s more natural, fresh and saves money.
- Try to avoid late meals; your biggest meal should be your lunch.
Please note: In Indian medical school, Ayurvedic doctors study at least 8 years to become qualified. The information we cover in these blogs offer you a basic introduction to the science behind ayurveda. It’s a great tool to help you understand your own body and those of your loved ones and/or students better, but please not use our content to diagnose disease or prescribe medicine of any kind for yourself or others. We do not diagnose or prescribe anything to any individual, nor is it the purpose of our content.
An Introduction to Ayurveda
Practical Ayurveda – Find Out Who You Are and What You Need to Bring Balance to Your Life – Sivananda Yoga, Vedanta Center
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