In addition to lifestyle habits, which I discussed in last week's blog post, Ayurvedic wisdom about diet can also be useful in informing our self care routines. Talking about food can sometimes bring up uncomfortable or painful emotions for people, so I want to make it clear that this post will not demonize or judge any type of food as "bad". Healthy eating means eating a variety of foods that give you the nutrients you need to survive. It means sometimes overeating and sometimes not eating enough, but mostly eating an amount that feels comfortable to you. In terms of comfort, Ayurvedic wisdom tells us that, depending on your dosha, certain types of food are capable of providing more comfort than others.
VATA- AIR TYPE
Hopefully you remember from previous weeks that imbalances in vata energy tend to lead to anxiety, worry, and restlessness. Therefore, the ideal vata diet and eating schedule will consist of foods that help to ground and calm these air types. Mealtimes would ideally be regular and may consist of some protein with each meal, plenty of complex carbs, and sweets in moderation. It can be beneficial for vatas to avoid distraction during mealtimes, and practice eating mindfully.
In addition to mindful eating, seasonal eating is also important for this dosha. During warm weather, salads including sweet ripe fruits are ideal, in addition to light meats such as seafood. As the weather gets cooler, foods like cheese, chicken or turkey, chickpeas, nuts, cooked grains, and root vegetables are great for balancing vata energy. You might also considering adding tea or other warm drinks to your self care routine.
PITTA- FIRE TYPE
Those with fiery natures recognize that pitta imbalance influences temper. "Running hot" is common among those with this dosha. Therefore, an ideal diet for balancing pitta energy consists of less protein, lighter foods, and foods with a high water content. These types of food help to extinguish the flame of anger and re-balance pitta energies.
Some specific choices recommended for this dosha include egg whites, seafood and small portions of white meat or tofu, white rice, leafy green vegetables and salads, and fruit with high water content such as melons, oranges, pears, and pineapples.
KAPHA- EARTH TYPE
In order to balance the fatigue and sluggishness that accompanies kapha imbalance, foods recommended for this dosha are ones that are simple and energizing. Meals may be light, as kapha's tend to have a slower metabolism, but it is important to make sure you're getting enough of the nutrients you need. In general, a balanced kapha diet may include low calorie, high protein foods, and should focus on variety. Be careful not to get into a rut with the meals you're having; mix it up and have fun with it. Try to eat slowly and mindfully.
Examples of an ideal kapha diet might include fruits that are less sweet, such as pears and cranberries, low fat meats, all types of beans and legumes, and raw vegetables. Invigorating spices may also be used to motivate kapha energies. Healthy choices include: ginger, lemon, peppermint, spearmint, and thyme.
What do you think of these recommended ingredients? Have you found comfort in these types of foods? Let me know in the comments! For some recipe ideas, check out The Chopra Center's website.