This is probably the question I get most often and a highly valid one. After discovering your mind-body type with my free quiz (if you haven’t taken it, do so here), you may be left wondering which Dosha to eat for.
First of all, I would like to preface this by saying a quiz is only partially accurate- the only way to know your true Ayurvedic constitution is to visit an Ayurvedic Practitioner who has undergone training to analyze your Doshas. You can schedule a consultation with me here or visit another reputable Ayurvedic Practitioner. Quizzes are highly simplified and there is only so much we can find out from them. It’s like referring to Web MD vs visiting a Doctor. Web MD may give you an idea but only a Doctor’s visit will give you personalized attention. That being said, the quiz is still a great place to begin your journey towards balance through Ayurveda.
When I began mine, I was confused because I related to two Doshas- Vata and Kapha. I definitely have a creative Vata mind and suffered from a lot of the Vata-related digestive issues such as bloating and constipation, however I didn’t look or feel like a Vata in many other ways.
- Vatas are extremely energetic and hate staying in one place for too long.. Kaphas are more low energy and love staying on the couch all day.. I’m definitely a Vata.
- Vatas are easily excitable and begin tons of tasks (often more than they can finish.) Kaphas are more routine and don’t really like picking up new hobbies or tasks. I’m 100% Vata here.
- Vatas are small-boned. You can tell by whether you can put your hand around your wrist and still have wiggle room. Kaphas are bigger-boned and cannot put their hand all the way around their wrists. Pittas are somewhere in between. I’m definitely Vata and have the tiniest wrists and ankles on the planet. I’m just a very petite built person.
- Vatas have perpetually dry skin that no amount of moisturizer can hydrate. Kaphas have moist skin that can be oily in certain parts. I’m most definitely Vata and my skin drinks oil.
- Vatas value freedom over everything and love being spontaneous. Kaphas value comfort over everything and love being secure. I’m 1000% Vata here and feel most comfortable OUT of my comfort zone.
However, in many other ways I’m totally Kapha.
- Vatas have a hard-time gaining weight while Kaphas gain weight just eating ONE off meal. I am definitely the latter.
- Vatas have long, angular faces, while Kaphas have round face with soft features. If you’ve ever seen my cheeks, you’ll know I’m most def Kapha.
- Vatas have dry hair prone towards split ends, while Kaphas have long, thick lustrous hair. My rumpenzel hair screams Kapha!
- Vatas have a hard-time staying asleep and sleep only a few hours a night. Kaphas sleep soundly and need a good 8 hours. Team Kapha here!
Needless to say, I was somewhere in between an eccentric Vata and a peaceful Kapha and didn’t know what to do because the suggestions for Vata and Kapha are the polar opposite!
I’ve done a lot of research on this topic and have found that what works for each person is extremely unique. There is no one Vata- Kapha or Kapha-Pitta diet. It just depends on how that Dosha is showing up for you.
Step 1: Analyze the Digestion
The first thing I like to look at is the digestive system.
Does the digestive system have any specific imbalances? If so, then I suggest a diet according to those imbalances.
Ayurveda classifies four types of “agnis” or digestive fires.
Visham Agni: Irregular Digestion
Tikshna Agni Sharp Digestion
Manda Agni: Slow Digestion
Sama Agni: Balanced Digestion
Visham agni is related to excess Vata, but can also show up in Pitta types as well.
Symptoms of Visham agni incude:
- irregular bowel movements with tendencies toward constipation or loose bowel
Tikshna Agni is related to excess Pitta but can also show up when Vata is provoked.
Symptoms of Tikshna agni incude:
- loose bowel movements that are aggravated by pungent and spice foods (cayenne pepper, garlic, onion)
- hyperacidity/ heartburn
Manda Agni is related to excess Kapha but can also show up when Vata is aggravated.
Symptoms of Manda Agni include:
- Slow digestion/ metabolism
- Large, sticky stool
Sama Agni is when digestion is balanced- yay! This is what we are all hoping for. When digestion is balanced, you can just follow the Dosha’s diet for the season. That means eating a more Pitta-pacifying diet in summer, Vata-pacifying in Fall and Kapha-pacifying in winter/ early spring.
Symptoms of sama agni include:
- Healthy daily bowel movements
- No digestive discomfort after eating
Which did you relate to?
For me, I found that I most related to visham agni, so I followed a Vata-pacifying diet until my Vata was back into balance then could begin just eating seasonally.
Step 2: Find The Missing Elements
The second thing I look at is which elements are missing. The Doshas are each comprised of two elements.
Vata is comprised of Air + Ether
Pitta is comprised of Fire + Water
Kapha is comprised of Earth + Water
We can see that both Vata and Pitta are missing the Earth element. That means they should increase Earthy foods in their dietà more root vegetables and healthy fats.
We can also see that both Pitta and Kapha are missing the air + ether elements. That means they should increase airy foods such as leafy greens and non-starchy vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli.
Lastly, we can observe that Vata and Kapha are lacking the fire element. That means they should crank up the heat in their diet through spices such as ginger and cayenne, as well as pungent foods such as garlic and onion.
Step 3: Eat Locally and Seasonally
Last of all, we should all be coordinating our diets with the Earth around us.
We each live in a unique climate with a different temperature, environment, air quality and other factors. Therefore, a Vata diet for you in Miami may be different for you in Denmark.
When we live in a warmer place, we need more cooling foods because our Pitta goes up. When we live in a cold place, we need more warming foods because our Vata/ Kapha go up. The environment and season always play a role in how we should be relating to our bodies because we are a product of our environments.
Have no idea what’s seasonal and local?
Visit your nearby Farmer’s Market and see what’s growing around your neighborhood. That will give you a good idea about what you should be eating.
In general, in the Fall/ Winter months, we should gravitate towards root vegetables, fats, stews, fermented foods and soups to warm us up from within.
In the late winter/ early Spring months we should lighten up our diet to prevent the winter blues by adding in more lively sprouts, leafy greens, berries and spices in our diet.
In the hot summer months, we need to cool down with raw foods, salads, smoothies and fresh fruit
My note on raw foods:
Though traditional Ayurveda doesn’t recommend raw foods, I believe they play a pivotal role in human nutrition. When we cook foods, we kill the living enzymes as well as certain key nutrients such as Vitamin C, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B5 and Folate. However, at the same time, we make them easier to digest by breaking down the fiberous cell walls and increase other nutrients such as lycopene and beta carotene. It also makes the iron and protein more accessible.
I believe we need a balance of both in our diets. Humans have eaten both raw and cooked foods for thousands of years around the world- the quantity depended on their environment. In the colder, winter months/climates we need more cooked, nourishing foods to warm us up. In the hotter, summer months/ climates we need more refreshing, hydrating foods to keep us cool. We must find a balance that works for us.
The reason Ayurveda doesn’t recommend raw foods is because it wasn’t safe for them to eat at that time and place. If you’ve ever visited India, you have experienced that no one eats salads there- it is simply dangerous because the likelihood of getting a parasite due to the bacteria in the soil. Ayurveda was written in ancient India 5000 years ago and we must keep that in mind. Just because Ayurveda traditionally doesn’t recommend raw foods, that doesn’t mean we should all stop eating them. If you’re in India, it’s probably best not to eat lettuce but if you live somewhere the soil is safe to eat raw foods from, then go for it if it works for you.
Central to Ayurveda is the idea of changing your diet according to the environment and I believe the founders of Ayurveda would agree that if you live in a place where raw foods are safe to eat, it is fine (and actually beneficial) to eat them.
Again, listen to your body.
If you are a Pitta and feel refreshed from a leafy salad, keep eating them.
If you are a Vata and they make you feel bloated, then switch them up for more cooked foods.
If you are a Kapha, include more raw foods in the summer and cooked foods in the winter.
In the summer, smoothies may be your jam (just keep them ice-free). In the winter, they may make you cold just looking at them. Listen to that intuitive wisdom.
What I want you to take home from this article is that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to health, even within a specific Dual-Dosha.
What works for you this month may not work for you next.
Notice your body’s clues and check in with your digestive system. Heal that first.
Once that’s healed, go with the diet for the season and keep your two Doshas in balance by finding the commonalities between them.
If you want specific meal plans, grocery lists, guidelines, self-care techniques and more, join me in my 12 Week Eat Right For Your Mind-Body Type Program.
I created this program as essentially everything I wished I had when beginning this journey. I break down each Dosha into physiology, digestive type, metabolism, relationship with food, skin and more, telling you exactly what to do for imbalances of each. We are all all three of the Doshas and it takes a deep sense of inner knowingness to know how to heal our bodies.
I hope this article helped you make sense of all these confusing Doshas so you can start benefitting from ancient Ayurvedic wisdom!