The Ayurvedic diet is an eating pattern that’s been around for thousands of years.
It’s based on the principles of Ayurvedic medicine and focuses on balancing different types of energy within your body, which is said to improve health.
Unlike many other diets, the Ayurvedic diet provides personalized recommendations about which foods to eat and avoid based on your body type.
The Ayurvedic diet is a type of eating plan that sets guidelines for when, how, and what you should eat based on your dosha, or body type.
Here are some of the main characteristics for each dosha to help you determine which type matches you best:
- Vata (space and air): Vatas are often described as creative, intense, or expressive. Attributes include dry, light, cold, and rough.
- Pitta (fire and water): Pittas are often described as intelligent, joyful, and driven. Attributes include sharp, hot, liquid, and mobile.
- Kapha (earth and water): Kaphas are often described as calm, loving, or lethargic. Attributes include moist, heavy, soft, and static.
According to this diet, your dosha determines which foods you should eat to promote inner balance.
Best Foods for Vatas
People with a predominant Vata dosha should eat warm foods and drinks, and cooked cereals and grains rather than dry or crunchy foods, choose boiled and steamed vegetables and ripe fruits. Skip anything cold, frozen, or raw, and eat three or four meals a day at regular intervals, as well as lots of healthy snacks.
• EAT: Soups, stews, and casseroles; well-cooked oats, and rice cooked with lots of water and butter; sweet and juicy fruits such as bananas, berries, and melon; fresh-baked bread.
• AVOID: Nightshades, including tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, and spinach; carbonated beverages; heavy foods like hard cheese; aged or fermented foods; astringent fruits such as cranberries and raw apples; candy; caffeine.
Best Foods for Pittas
The Pitta dosha is associated with heat, so people with predominant Pitta should eat a variety of green vegetables and ripe fruits and use ghee or olive oil in cooking. Eat your food warm, rather than hot and stick with cool or lukewarm drinks. Pittas do best with a vegetarian diet made up of non-spicy foods. Limit salt, and skip eggs, alcohol, and coffee.
• EAT: Milk, cheese, sweetened yogurt; olive oil; sweet and bitter veggies such as mushrooms, peas, peppers, broccoli, and zucchini; grains including couscous, quinoa, and barley.
• AVOID: Spices such as black pepper, chilies, garlic, and onions; sour and acidic foods such as grapefruit, tomatoes, radishes; plain yogurt; foods containing vinegar, including salad dressings; nuts and seeds; and meat.
Best Foods for Kaphas
The Kapha dosha is associated with water, so those with this dominant dosha should balance it out with pungent, bitter, and astringent foods. Kaphas should avoid dairy and fatty, greasy foods of any kind. If you do eat meat, skip anything that\’s fried and stick with baked, roasted, or broiled dishes. Avoid any sweetened except honey, and go heavy on the spices.
• EAT: Ginger and garlic; apples, mangoes, peaches, pears; leafy greens and veggies that are grown above ground, like corn, asparagus, eggplant; cottage cheese; lean proteins including chicken and fish.
• AVOID: Root vegetables, rich gravies, frozen foods, oils and fats.
Benefits of the Ayurvedic Diet
Encourages whole foods
Although the Ayurvedic diet has specific guidelines for each dosha, the diet as a whole encourages eating whole foods like fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes.
This can benefit your health greatly, as these foods are rich in many essential nutrients.
The diet also minimizes processed foods, which often lack fiber and important vitamins and minerals.
Could promote weight loss
One study involving 200 subjects from a mix of the three doshas found that following an Ayurvedic diet appropriate for each participant’s dosha encouraged weight loss or healthy weight maintenance. At the beginning of the study, kapha and pitta people were heavier than vata people, and after the three months of therapy, the pitta group lost the most weight while both the pitta and kapha experienced improved in multiple measurements. The researchers’ conclusion was that diets based on Ayurvedic constitution may prove useful in promoting weight loss.
There’s also evidence that Ayurvedic diets may help normalize hormones, improve insulin sensitivity and help prevent diabetes.
In addition to what foods you eat, mindfulness is another major part of the Ayurvedic diet.
Mindfulness is a practice that involves paying close attention to how you feel in the present. In particular, mindful eating emphasizes minimizing distractions during meals to focus on the taste, texture, and smell of your food.
Mindful eating may also enhance self-control and promote a healthy relationship with food.
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