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Eating for Your Dosha

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In ayurveda, an ancient Vedic system of natural healing (also known as “alternative medicine”), optimal health is said to be achieved when three elemental substances, or doshas, are in balance. Humans, being composed of these same elemental substances, tend to manifest one dominant dosha’s characteristics physically, emotionally and mentally–leading to an imbalance in the others. To counter your dominant dosha and achieve balance you are supposed to eat foods that oppose and/or honor its characteristics.

Still with me here?

Assuming your hippie bullshit radar is properly tuned, it is no doubt firing at full blast. But hear me out because this is cool.

I first studied doshas in my yoga teacher training but at the time was also working on my masters in standard Western nutrition and really could not be bothered by all the hippie bullshit so it went in one ear and out the other. A few weeks ago I felt compelled (for some unknown reason) to give it another look and have been (quite literally) devouring all of it since.

Specifically, I shifted a stale, boring diet of cold salads and smoothies to one heavy on warm comfort foods with butter and carbs galore and I feel better than ever. Not buying it? Here’s the deal…

I am vata dosha. Vata, composed of air and ether, represents movement and is: cold, light, dry, irregular, moving, quick and changeable. Physically, vatas are thin and agile with dry hair (hello.) and skin and cold hands and feet. Emotionally, vatas are energetic, creative and flexible and crave new and exciting experiences. A vata imbalance manifests physically as weight loss, weakness and restlessness. An imbalanced vata will feel worried, anxious and stressed.

To counter these inherently cold, dry, flighty characteristics, vatas should seek a warm and grounding lifestyle, including foods that are oily, heated and heavy.

Anything that chills the body is off limits which means my usual frozen morning smoothie is (allegedly) a terrible way to start my day and should be traded for something like oatmeal. Raw vegetables aggravate vata so my daily salad is swapped for lentils and rice. Dry, light foods don’t do anything to help ground so I’m supposed to opt instead for heavy sweet fruits like bananas, coconut, papaya and pineapple. In fact, all sweeteners are recommended for vata–I suspect to balance our extreme bitterness? (I knew I loved this diet.)

Cool, right?

I don’t know. I’m into it. I’ve always known that salads just don’t do it for me and that carbs are very important to me (rice and wheat are best for vata) and that I’m freezing all the time.

Please believe I’m not actually following a strict ayuvedic diet (at ALL). I do, after all, put ice in my drink when I feel like it and it’s not as though I’ll never eat another salad. But I definitely do believe that certain foods make me feel better than others and they happen to be the ones that violate a lot of the popular nutrition out there right now: NO GLUTEN. NO CARBS. NO SUGARY FRUITS. TONS OF RAW LEAFY GREENS. LOW FAT. AVOID BUTTER AT ALL COST.

I find myself getting caught up in the hype sometimes and that’s when I get stuck in the smoothie-salad cycle of lameness that, as it turns out, certainly isn’t harming me but might not be doing me any favors either. Not in the Vedic sense anyway.

What I have forever hated about diets in general is that no one program can work for everyone but they are often packaged that way, as a one-size-fits-all solution. I guess that’s why I like this idea of eating for who you are.

Curious?

You can determine your dosha with an online quiz here.

You can find dosha food lists to favor and avoid here.

15 Comments

  1. This is cool! I’m a vata too. I knew I was because I have dry skin and hair. My hands and feet are always like icicles. i always force myself to eat salad. Not anymore, bitches!

    • Katie Katie

      Ha! Namaste…

  2. Janice Janice

    This is not too far off from the Chinese logic of food, which I’ve been taught since before I can remember. Every food is assigned either “heat” or “cold” – ingesting too much of one food can throw off your balance. This theory is also applied for illnesses; with sore throats (too much heat in the body), you are advised to only stick to “cold” foods, etc. It’s always interesting when this concept is brought up through other venues.

    • Katie Katie

      That’s interesting. Sometimes I think we have been severely overthinking medicine and nutrition in the West.

  3. Jenny Jenny

    I think this is interesting!! I’m one to believe that yes, we should eat primarily for nutritional purposes, but that is different for everyone and that sometimes eating because it just “feels” right and good is healthy too, and sometimes more necessary than following some specific dietary guideline.

    • Katie Katie

      Exactly! And it’s important to note (like you said) that within your dosha you still need to keep it clean, as it were. Like my vata dosha isn’t a free pass to just eat buttered bread and desserts all day. Mine is all about rice and whole grain bread and warm, cooked vegetables.

  4. I love that this could be another way to prove that diet is not one size fits all. Everyone is has different personalities, strengths, weakness, etc. so why can’t everyone have different dietary needs? Thanks for posting this, I’m going to take the quiz!

    • Katie Katie

      Preach.

  5. So, I’m not usually into this stuff, but I just took the quiz, and it is SPOT ON. How weird and interesting.

    • Katie Katie

      YES. So surprisingly awesome.

  6. SO excited to give this (somewhat of) a try!!!

  7. I took the quiz last night, and scored equal in all 3. So…I get to eat all the things? I could get on board with that!

    In all seriousness though, when I think about my eating habits I notice I’m happiest/feel the best when I’m following a diet that’s mostly balanced across lots of food groups. So I suppose that makes sense!

    • Katie Katie

      Ha! All things approved.

      Actually everyone is supposed to have parts of eats dosha and one just happens to be dominant, but I guess some people are even keeled across all of them. That’s cool that it aligns for you.

  8. Rachel Rachel

    YES! This Pitta girl needs iced coffee and salad salad salad!! Love that you’re eating for your dosha!

  9. […] Eating For Your Dosha <–cool post on this. I learned about this at IIN and agree that I do best with cooked, warm foods. But like her, I don’t really follow that. […]

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