Do you have a hard time losing weight and keeping it off?
Do you feel tired throughout the day?
Do you feel like you could sleep forever?
Do you have a sluggish metabolism?
Do you find it hard to find motivation to exercise?
Do you have mucus/ phlegm/ coughs/ allergies?
Do you have cool, clammy hands?
Do you often feel sad for no reason?
Do you emotionally eat?
Then this means you are predominantly KaphaDosha.
Kapha is the Ayurvedic Dosha (mind-body type) related to Earth energy. As a best-selling Ayurveda author and expert, it is my dharma to bring this health system to the modern age and I’m so thrilled to be helping you out over with your resolutions. So let’s dive into what Kapha is!
Kapha is Earth energy, therefore you will experience symptoms of excess Earth in your mind and body. What does Excess look like in the digestive system? You guessed it– heaviness. This will lead to weight-gain, water retention and puffiness. Kaphas tend to have curvy frames, gaining weight mostly on their hips, thighs, legs and arms. However, they have the best skin and hair of all the Doshas and often look years younger then they do. They also have the strongest immune systems.
Mentally, Kapha types have loving spirits who enjoy spending time with their families and friends, relaxing, watching movies and working with their hands, such as cooking, baking, sewing or decorating. I call them Grandmother energy—they are always taking care of others and make the best hosts. However, they can often put others in front of themselves. What they need to learn in this lifetime is to set boundaries.
Oprah is a wonderful example of a Kapha. With her round, loving face, curvy body and empathic personality everyone just adores, she is a Kapha queen. What made her so popular is not that she shot on stage with fiery energy like a Pitta or came up with imaginative inventions like a Vata, but that she was able to sit in front of anyone and get deep into the core of their heart. However, we all know that her greatest issue was managing her weight, which constantly went up and down. She also speaks about how difficult it has been for her to set boundaries because she wanted to please everyone. This is an example of a Kapha problem.
While we all have some Kapha within us, when Kapha is out of balance, we experience the negative side, such as the weight-gain, heaviness and lethargy mentioned above. Even if Kapha is not your primary Dosha, you can experience a Kapha imbalance during periods of your life when you are sedentary, putting others in front of you or going through a rough period in your life.
Here are some health resolutions for Kaphas:
- Eat light, stimulating foods. The best foods for you are non-starchy vegetables either steamed, lightly sautéed and sometimes raw, such as kale, cabbage, okra, peppers, eggplant, squash, brussel sprouts, spinach andbok choy. Low glycemicfruits such as blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, lemons, limes, cranberries and pomegranates. Protein-dense grains such as quinoa. Plant-based proteins, such as any legume or bean: (soaked) mung beans, adzuki beans, tempeh, tofu, chickpeas, chickpea pasta, lentils, black beans and tempeh. Small amounts of healthy fat: ½ an avocado a day or 2 tbsp oil total a day. All spices and herbs, such as ginger, turmeric, cardamom, parsley, cilantro, black pepper, clove, caraway, dill, coriander, etc are excellent for balancing Kapha.
- The qualities of our foods are just as important as the nutrients. Light foods are best for Kaphas because they counterbalance their heavy energy. You’ll want to stay away from all dairy (milk, cheese, butter); excess oil in cooking, excess sweet or white potatoes,squash, starchy vegetables and rice; excess nut butters or avocado; use of sweeteners, even honey, agave or maple syrup; bread, pasta, muffins pastries, cookies, processed wheats and fried foods. These foods will cause weight-gain, mucus and sluggishness. You can also do a combination of raw and cooked foods, like a salad with some cooked vegetables, avocado and legumes mixed in. Listen to your body to see how much raw you can handle without being bloated and uncomfortable, as Kapha is a cool energy.
- Stay moving. Movement is the antidote to a Kapha imbalance. Even when you’re working, stand up and shimmy your hips (what I’m doing right now!) Always find a way to be active in your day, such as walking to work, taking a phone call on your walk, or choosing the stairs over the elevator. Kapha becomes imbalanced when you are sedentary, so even if you want to watch a show, do it on your phone while you’re on the stationary bike or treadmill so you can burn those calories at the same time! Make it part of your culture that instead of seeing a friend for coffee, you meet up for a brisk walk. You will feel so much more radiant when you are in movement—as will those around you!
- Use grapeseed oil on the body and in cooking. Grapeseed oil is a neutral oil, which won’t clog up your pores, nor overly cool off your body. It is also great for cooking things with a high smokepoint, such as stir-fries, eggs or anything in the oven, as olive oil is a carcinogen when cooked past it’s very low smoke-point. Use grapeseed oil on the body for an abhyanga self-oil massage. You probably won’t need much because of the oils already present in your skin but we could all use a little more oily love (in fact the word for oil in Ayurveda, sneha, is the same word for love.)
- Practice oil-pulling with grapeseed oil for your oil-pulling. Oil-pulling is essentially Ayurvedic mouth-wash. Just take a spoon of oil and swish it around your mouth for anywhere from 1 up to 20 minutes to allow the oil to gently remove the bad bacteria from your mouth without the good bacteria. Think of your mouth as your digestive system—you don’t want to put in the equivalent of an antibiotic in your mouth (antibacterial mouthwash) which damages both the good and bad bacteria. Instead, oil allows the bad bacteria to gently dissolve while keeping the good bacteria in tack.
- Switch your cooking oil to grapeseed oil. This makes a great base for stir-fries, stews, eggs or anything else you eat. It is a neutral oil that you can spice up with your choice spices and herbs, such as ginger, turmeric, cumin and coriander.
- Schedule your meditative/ self-care tasks for 6am-10am and 6pm-10pm, when Kapha time is highest. This is your best time for meditation, journaling, self-care, abhyanga self-oil massage, tongue scraping, oil-pulling, dry-brushing and whatever else makes you feel nourished!
- Get yourself to the point of sweat everyday. Sweat is medicine for Kaphas. I know an intense workout class with a guy screaming at you sounds like the last thing you want to do at 7am but trust me, it will make the next 12 hours of your day TOTALLY better. You will feel like an even brighter, happier version of yourself when you get your sweat in. If a bootcamp sounds intense, try a Zumba class, aerobics or just exercising on your own! Do whatever you will stick to—this is what’s most important!
- Try new things! Kaphas can easily become stuck in their own routines because it feels comfortable and has been working for this long. They may be in jobs, relationships, friendships or living situations that no longer serve them but the effort it takes to try something new seems like too much to take on. However, you don’t know what is missing unless you’re willing to shake things up a bit. Try something new, whether it’s a workout class, heading to a salsa night or online dating! Little new things give you the courage for those bigger new things—a move, a career switch, a break-up. You know in your heart exactly what it is you need to let go of—consider this a message from the universe telling you you are SO freaking ready for it—all you gotta do is jump and trust you will find your feet on the fly down!
The beautiful thing about Ayurveda is the mind and body are connected, so any balancing you do on one will positively effect the other! A more peaceful mind will lead to a more peaceful digestion, which will lead to a more peaceful life. Also keep in mind that you can be a cross between two Doshas so be sure to check out how to set health resolutions for Vata and Pittas here to see how they apply to you.
Don’t know your Dosha? Take my free quick quiz over here and learn more about eating right for your Dosha in my new book: Eat Feel Fresh: A Contemporary Plant-Based Ayurvedic Cookbook.