Disclaimer: The following information has not been approved by the FDA. This information should not be interpreted as medical advice and is not a substitute for a visit with a medical care professional. Always speak to your doctor about any health concerns.
There are so many diet recommendations and fads these days, you could try a different regimen every month for years and never run out of new options. Just about everyone at the office, in the family, or other community seems to have a new recommendation or diet they’re trying.
In fact, an estimated 45 million Americans go on a diet each year.
At The Healthy Place, we’re pro healthy eating — but we’re less enthusiastic about the diet-culture that’s taken over the US. We believe that health is found holistically, by caring for your body in how you move, how you eat, and how you live. So, to us, a diet is about giving your body the best fuel possible for maximum health.
Local vegan chef, Lauren Montelbano, has a great perspective on healthy eating. She graciously supplied us with this guest article that beautifully explains eating healthy is about more than just greens or ‘low-calorie’ foods. It’s about identifying your body type and finding the foods and drinks that are best for you. We believe her perspective may be valuable for all of you as well.
(And if you haven’t been to her restaurant yet, Surya Cafe, we honestly couldn’t recommend it more.)
What Does Dosha Mean?
Ayurveda, which translates to “knowledge of life”, is the Vedic language of health, developed over 5,000 years ago in India. Ayurveda takes a holistic approach, examining a person’s constitutional and emotional wellbeing, in order to achieve and maintain balance and vital health. It is one of the world’s oldest health systems and is still practiced today as the main healthcare system in India.
According to Ayurveda, we are all composed of different energies and elements. There are five elements; earth, air, fire, water, and ether.
Each dosha is comprised of a combination of these elements, which help to explain and identify the traits of each dosha.
The 3 doshas are Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. We are all made up of a combination of 3 doshas, with one or two usually being the most dominant. (Although, there are rare cases of people who are tri-doshic, in which they have an equal combination of all 3.) To find out your dosha, you can take a test here.
Vata encompasses elements of air and either. People who are Vata dominant tend to be thin, dry and usually cold. So, they thrive in warm, humid climates. They are incredibly creative, mentally and physically active, and love to travel and engage with new people.
When they are out of balance, they can be anxious, indecisive, ungrounded, and flakey. They will suffer from constipation, stiff joints, and dry skin.
Bringing a Vata to Balance
In order to bring Vata (or any of the doshas) back into balance, Ayurveda relies heavily on diet and routine. For Vatas, it’s extremely important to eat at regular intervals. Since its main elements are air and ether, a Vata can be knocked off track quite easily and skipping meals is a frequent offense of Vatas that tend to cost them their balance.
If you have are Vata, you also need to consume a lot of water. Focus on eating healthy fats to ward off the dryness. Foods like avocados, nuts, and oily fish are great choices. They should also focus on heavier, warm, wet foods like soups, stews, rice, curries, porridge, and root vegetables.
Flavors that help to balance Vata are sweet, salty, and sour. Vatas should avoid stimulants, such as caffeine, alcohol, and processed sugar because they can easily throw them off-balance. To achieve the sweet flavor, you should focus more or heavy more nourishing sugars such as maple syrup, dates and molasses.
Pitta is associated with the elements of fire and water. People who are pitta dominant tend to have a strong musculature and be very athletic. They are highly driven and goal oriented, often to a fault. They have fiery personalities and are very strong-willed. If you want something done, get a pitta to help you accomplish it. But beware, because with all that fire also comes stubbornness, a competitive spirit and someone who is easily angered and aggravated.
Bringing a Pitta to Balance
When out of balance, Pittas can also suffer from rashes, diarrhea, inflammation, and acne. In order to balance Pitta, you should consume foods that are cooling in nature. Eat lots of raw vegetables and salads that include cucumber, watermelon, or mint.
Cruciferous vegetables are also particularly good for Pitta because of their bitter and astringent flavors. Meat, alcohol, ginger, and spicy foods should be avoided. In addition to astringent and bitter flavors, sweet is also a good flavor for pittas.
The last dosha is Kapha. Kapha people are grounded, loyal, trustworthy and calm. They are difficult to anger and are the token peacemakers. They tend to have larger builds, low metabolisms, rely on comfort and routine and, if they aren’t shaken up, can easily become complacent or lazy.
Bringing a Kapha to Balance
Kapha translates to “that which sticks”, so they can suffer from other illnesses relating to too much dampness or mucus in the body, depression or attachment issues.
It’s important for Kapha people to try to travel, experience new things, and have a regular routine of exercise in order to combat these tendencies. Because Kaphas are comprised of the earth and water elements, they should always eat small meals, focused primarily around vegetables and whole grains. Skip sweets, desserts, and heavy or oily foods. The flavors that balance Kapha are bitter, pungent and astringent.
The Doshas Represented by Seasons
In addition to eating for our personal dosha, we should also be eating for the season. Cooling, light foods in summer for Pitta season. Dense, warm, wet foods in the fall and winter for Vata season. Astringent and bitter foods to awaken the body in spring for Kapha season.
Thinking of your dosha as a season can help you know what foods to eat as well.
Kapha is the wet season, starting when the snow stops and spring rains begin. It ends when the temperatures begin to increase and the rains decrease. During this season, your body begins to stir, and the earth produces a bounty of fresh astringent herbs and veggies, such as radishes, watercress, carrots, chives, and more.
We then move into Pitta season, when the temperatures are hot. What do you want to eat in hot weather? Cooling foods! Salads, raw veggies, and fresh fruits are perfect choices for the hot, summer months and for the warm-bodied Pitta.
In fall, we move into Vata season, when the trees start to lose their leaves and everything dries up for the year. Fall foods feature many warming stews, root veggies, and all the goodness of the end-of-year bounty.
Finding Your Own Balance
There are so many ways to choose to eat these days and a lot of information coming at us from different sources. Ayurveda has been around long before health crazes, crash diets, and the long lists of do’s and don’ts that we see every day. I encourage you to explore this gentle, compassionate approach to health and nourish yourself with the foods and behaviors that will help your specific dosha thrive.
There are many resources out there for Ayurvedic lifestyles and specific cookbooks designed to help you balance your dosha through food. Have fun and explore this rich and wise way of living!
Guest Post Contributed by Lauren Montelbano
*Disclaimer: All information and recommendations given on this site, in email correspondence, newsletters or other materials provided by The Healthy Place is for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice nor be viewed as a substitute for a face-to-face consultation with a healthcare provider. Consult a licensed healthcare practitioner before modifying, stopping, or starting the use of any medications, health programs, diets, and/or supplements, as well as regarding any health concerns you may have. Our statements and information have not been evaluated or approved by the Food and Drug Administration. As with any health-related program, product, or service, your risks and results may vary. We expressly disclaim responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or damage caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the information provided to you here.”
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