To stay in balance (good health) it is important to stay within a range close to our Doshic type.
When the balance of the Doshas is disturbed: aggravated (increase) alleviated (reduced) or vitiated (impaired) disease occurs.
There are many factors which can lead to imbalance. Habitually consuming foods which share the same properties as your Dosha can cause aggravation, leading to impaired digestive fire digestive fire (agni) and ultimately a build up of toxins (ama). Put simply, ama from undigested food can accumulate in your body as toxins and lead to ill health and disease.
If you consider the characteristics of each Dosha you can start to understand which foods will lead to imbalance and which foods will keep you in good health.
Kapha is balanced by a diet of freshly cooked, whole foods that are light, dry, warming, well spiced, and relatively easy to digest. Foods should ideally be served warm or hot.
These foods balance Kapha by preventing excessive mucus production, regulating moisture levels, maintaining adequate heat, and by supporting proper digestion and elimination.
Kapha suits a pretty minimalistic diet with smaller meals, little to no snacking, fewer sweets, sugar and refined carbohydrates, an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, a variety of beans and pulses, little to no alcohol, and lighter food in general. Finding a diet that is satisfying is crucial to maintaining balance; so it’s important that you enjoy the foods that you do eat.
Qualities to Favour and Avoid
Kapha is heavy, cold, oily, and smooth, so eating foods with opposite qualities will help maintain balance. Foods that are light, warm, dry, and rough can help to balance excess kapha.
Favour Light over Dense and Heavy
Foods which have light quality are a great choice to balance kapha’s heaviness. Lightness can be determined both by the weight of a food and also by it’s density.
Fruits and vegetables are typically light, so a diet that is built around an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, preferably cooked, is a great start.
A modest amount of raw fruit may be suitable in moderation. Kapha is also balanced by salads and other raw vegetables when seasonally appropriate (usually in the spring and summer months).
Foods which are too heavy for Kapha include hard cheeses, puddings, nuts, cakes, pies, wheat, most flours, breads, pastas, red meat, and deep fried foods. Eating too much in one sitting also leads to excess heaviness, so it’s important not to overeat.
Very heavy, rich meals and highly processed foods also tend to aggravate Kapha’s heaviness and are best avoided.
Favour Warm Over Cool or Cold
In order to counteract Kapha’s cold quality, eating foods that are warm in temperature or that have a warming post digestive effect are very balancing. Using heating spices generously will help to balance Kapha: dry ginger, cinnamon, cloves, garlic, black pepper, chilli, cayenne, cardamon mustard seeds and nutmeg are all great examples.
Cooked foods tend to offer a warmer energy and are typically easier to digest; especially in the colder months, which is considered to be Kapha season.
Water should be drunk at room temperature or warm.
It is best to avoid foods with a cooling post digestive effect: cold and frozen foods or drinks, carbonated drinks, and even leftovers that have been kept in the refrigerator or freezer.
Favour Dry Over Moist or Oily
Kapha’s oiliness is offset by foods which have drying or astringent qualities: beans, white potatoes, dried fruits, rice cakes, popcorn, spinach, kale and an occasional glass of dry red or white wine.
When cooking, it is important to use oil sparingly and, when necessary, to substitute water for oil to prevent sticking. Oily foods like avocado, coconut, olives, buttermilk, cheese, eggs, cow’s milk, wheat, nuts and seeds should also be reduced or eliminated.
Also, because Kapha is prone to water retention, it is best not to over-hydrate. Drink only the amount of fluid that your body requires, according to your climate and activity levels. Also, avoid overconsumption of especially moist foods like melons, summer squash, courgette, and yogurt, as these can be Kapha aggravating.
Favour Rough Over Smooth
Fruits and vegetables fibrous structure gives them a very rough quality. This is why Kapha responds so well to eating large quantities of fresh fruits and vegetables, although, these foods are often much easier to digest when cooked. Be careful not to overdo raw foods and consume when seasonally appropriate: summer months.
Some foods, like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, dark leafy greens, and many beans have a rough quality and are therefore good to counteract Kapha’s smooth, oily nature.
Foods which are smooth in texture: bananas, rice pudding, hot cereal, milk, cheese, can quickly aggravate Kapha.
Tastes to Favour and Avoid
Kapha is pacified by the pungent, bitter, and astringent tastes and aggravated by the sweet, sour, and salty tastes.
Pungent is a spicy, hot flavour like that found in chilies, radishes, turnips, raw onions, and most spices. Most spices are kapha pacifying. The pungent taste is light, hot, rough, and dry – all beneficial for kapha. If you don’t like spicy foods try using cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, cumin, ginger, garlic, paprika, and turmeric.
The pungent taste stimulates digestion, clears the channels of the body and encourages sweating
The bitter taste is identifiable in bitter greens (like kale, dandelion greens, chard, etc.), and is also found in Jerusalem artichokes, aubergine, coffee and dark chocolate.
The bitter taste is rough, drying, light, all qualities that benefit Kapha. It is also cooling, so it’s important to add some warming spices to bitter foods.
The astringent taste is basically a flavour of dryness: a chalky taste that dries the mouth. Imagine eating an unripe banana or spinach. Pulses are typically astringent in taste: adzuki beans, black-eyed peas, pinto beans, soybeans, etc.
Some fruits, vegetables and grains are also astringent in taste: apples, cranberries, pomegranate, artichokes, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, rye, rice cakes and crackers.
The astringent taste is dry, rough and light, therefore reduces Kapha. Like the bitter taste, it is also cooling, so it’s best to add warming herbs and spices to astringent foods.
The sweet taste is cold, heavy, moist, oily so, very Kapha aggravating.Eliminate refined sugar and sugary sweet foods as much as possible. Also, naturally sweet foods like fruits, grains, root vegetables, milk, ghee, yogurt, eggs, nuts, seeds, oils, should be reduced.
Sweet foods tend to aggravate kapha’s tendency toward heaviness, obesity, lethargy, and excessive sleep. They can also cause excessive mucus production and aggravate colds and coughs.
The moistening and oily qualities of the sour taste aggravate kappa. Reduce sour foods like vinegar, cheese, sour cream, green grapes, oranges, pineapple, and grapefruit. The occasional squeeze of lemon or lime should be fine.
The sour taste can increase thirst, create heaviness in the eyes, cause laxity in the body, and aggravate water retention or swelling.
Salt intake is generally derived from salt itself. Like the sour taste, it is salt’s moist and oily nature that aggravates kapha.
The salty taste can cause water retention, high blood pressure, intestinal inflammation and excess thirst.
The Kapha Diet
Stick to three square meals per day at consistent times. Sometimes just two meals are sufficient – lunch being the largest meal of the day and a light evening meal. Leaving at least 2 hours before bed.
You can further kindle a sluggish digestive fire about 30 minutes before eating by chewing a slice of fresh ginger (about the size of a 50p piece) with a pinch of sea salt, a few drops of lime juice, and about ¼ teaspoon honey. This helps to prepare the digestive system to receive food and to process it effectively.
During meals, it is very important to eat in a peaceful environment and to give your full attention to the act of being nourished so that your body registers satisfaction. This will help reduce overeating and emotional eating, which Kapha is prone to.
Fast foods, sweets and excessive amounts of bread and other comfort foods can be especially Kapha aggravating.
Breakfast is often optional when kapha is elevated. Breakfast should not be consumed through habit, but only if the appetite desires it. If the appetite has not returned upon waking, it’s likely that a light breakfast of fresh fruit or fresh ginger tea will be sufficient.
If your appetite is stronger, warm cereals, like oats, orquinoa porridge are excellent choices. You can even add a little dried fruit or honey.
Another option would be muesli orbuckwheat granola with warm rice milk and a slice of rye toast.
Toast with cooked tomatoes (avoid the avocado).
Add herbal, fresh ginger, green, or black tea to any of these breakfasts.
Lunch should be the most substantial meal of the day.
Steamed or lightly sautéed vegetables, and compliment them with beans, Kapha friendly grains (barley, buckwheat, millet, a little basmati or will rice) non-yeasted breads, a suitable meat (a little beef or lamb, tuna, salmon) or an occasional egg.
Try something like:
Lentil and vegetable soup, un-yeasted bread (soda or flat breads are great), add a side of steamed kale. Include vegetables like onions, garlic, broccoli, celery, carrots, green beans, or asparagus in the soup. arnish the kale with olive oil, lemon juice, and black pepper. Add a spoonful of harissa to your lentil soup to add a pungent kick.
Vegetable tagine with yellow split peas. All the vegetable dishes are suitable for Kapha type’s.
Dinner is ideally smaller and lighter than lunch. Soups and stews are a great choice because they are warm and nourishing, even when light.
A smaller serving of lunch can often work, too. For some, especially when weight loss is indicated, it’s best to skip dinner altogether in favour of a healthy breakfast and lunch, or to eat a more substantial breakfast and make dinner the ultra-light meal of the day.
Pitta is balanced by a diet of fresh, whole foods (both cooked and raw when seasonally appropriate) that are cooling, nourishing, dry and a rich source of unrefined carbohydrates.
These foods calm Pitta by reducing internal heat, preventing inflammation, balancing the digestive fire, grounding the body, and by absorbing excess liquid and oil.
Qualities to Favour and Avoid
Pitta is oily, sharp, hot, light, spreading, and liquid, so eating foods that neutralise these qualities: foods that are dry, mild, cooling, grounding, stabilising, and dense balance excess pitta.
Favour Cool over Warm or Hot
The cool quality can be emphasised by eating foods that are cool in temperature or that have a cooling post digestive effect and by using cooling spices generously.
Most spices are heating in nature, so pay careful attention to which ones balance pitta.
Raw foods tend to be naturally cooling, and pitta tends to be able to handle them better than the other Doshas; so adding in an assortment of raw fruits and vegetables is generally supportive – especially in the warmer months.
It is best to avoid fiery hot dishes, alcohol, and caffeine; all of these influences can increase heat.
Favour Dense, Grounding, and Nourishing Over Light
Foods should help ground pitta’s lightness (and heat) with sustenance – eating foods that offer solid, stabilising sources of energy and adequate nourishment to the physical body.
Generally, these foods will naturally taste sweet. Most grains, milk, root vegetables, seeds, and cooling oils are good examples.
Pitta tends to have a sharp and sometimes insatiable appetite, so it’s equally important not to overindulge. Highly processed foods such as canned foods, ready-made meals and pastries often lack prana (vital life force), are excessively heavy, and should be avoided.
Favour Dry and Dense Over Oily or Liquid
Pitta’s liquid nature and tendency toward excess oil make drying or astringent foods like beans, potatoes, corn, millet, oats, pasta, popcorn, and most vegetables very appropriate.
When cooking, use a moderate amount of a high quality oil or ghee. Reduce or eliminate especially heating oily foods like eggs, hard cheeses, olives, nuts and sour cream. If given a choice between a soupy, liquidy meal and one that is denser and drier, opt for the latter.
The vegetable and split pea tagine is a great option. Served with barley and steamed vegetables.
It is important for all doshas (but especially pitta) to follow an alkaline diet. See alkaline foods.
Favour Mild over Acidic
Acidic flavours like pineapple, pickles, vinegar, and sharp aged cheeses are better replaced with milder, gentler tastes, like those found in apples, cucumbers, lime juice, and soft cheeses.
Similarly, stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine, and hard alcohol are too sharp and penetrating for pitta. Substitute more stable and sustaining sources of energy.
Tastes to Favour and Avoid
Pitta is pacified by the sweet, bitter, and astringent tastes and aggravated by the pungent, sour, and salty tastes.
Favour naturally sweet foods like sweet fruits, most grains, squashes, root vegetables, milk, ghee, and fresh yogurt. Adding the sweet taste to your diet does not mean refined sugars. The sweet taste is cooling and heavy but also anti-inflammatory. It tends to be grounding, nourishing,strength building, and satisfying.
The bitter taste is found in bitter greens like kale and chard. It is also found in, Jerusalem artichokes, dark chocolate, coffee and pitta pacifying spices like cumin, neem leaves, saffron, and turmeric.The bitter taste is cooling and drying.
The astringent taste is basically a flavour of dryness: a chalky taste that dries the mouth. Imagine eating an unripe banana or spinach.
Legumes: adzuki beans, black-eyed peas, chick peas, kidney beans, lentils, pinto beans, soybeans, etc. are classically astringent in taste. Some fruits, vegetables, grains, baked goods, and spices are also astringent in taste: things like apples, cranberries, pomegranate, artichokes, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, popcorn, rice cakes, crackers, basil, coriander, dill, fennel, parsley, and turmeric.
Pungent is a spicy, hot flavour like that found in chilies, radishes, turnips, raw onions, and many heating
spices. The pungent taste is hot and light, both qualities which aggravate pitta.
Too much pungent taste can cause excess thirst, burning sensations, bleeding, dizziness, and inflammation (especially in the intestinal tract).
Sour foods like vinegar and other fermented foods, hard cheeses, sour cream, green grapes pineapple, grapefruit, and alcohol are all very heating and should be kept to a minimum (an occasional beer or white wine is often ok).
Salt intake is generally derived from salt itself. Like the sour taste, it is salt’s heating and oily qualities that aggravates Pitta.
How to Eat
Pitta’s strong appetite can lead to a general intolerance for skipping meals. Pitta does well to stick to a regular eating pattern and to eat at least three meals each day. Pitta does best to stick to 3 meals at regular times as grazing on smaller meals throughout the day can dampen Pitta’s agni (digestive fire).
Eating at consistent times helps to balance an overactive digestive fire. It is also very important to eat in a peaceful environment and to give your full attention to the act of being nourished so that your body registers satisfaction. This will help to prevent overeating, which is a common side effect of Pitta’s strong appetite.
Hot, spicy foods, extremely sour foods, and overly salted foods are especially Pitta provoking. And while it may be impossible to avoid all pitta-provoking foods, the affect can be minimised by making sure they are taken in small quantities and served with cooling herbs and spices: (coriander, cumin and fennel).
Breakfast is usually not to be skipped when pitta is elevated. Good choices are sweet, high in carbohydrates, and yet offer sustained energy. it is important not to include refined sugar and carbohydrate breakfast cereal which causes a rapid increase in blood sugar level then a slump, which is very unbalancing for Pitta.
Oat or quinoa porridge made with hot milk (almond or rice milk) and garnished with raisins or choppeddates, chopped almonds (soaked and peeled), ghee or maple syrup.An egg on toast – yeast free bread is a good option. Soda bread or flat breads are most suitable for Pitta.
Ideally, lunch is the main meal of the day as this is when the digestive fire is at it’s highest. Lunch should be the largest and the most nourishing. A wide variety of appropriate grains, beans, and vegetables are great staples for lunch, and can be complimented with suitable meats, if you eat them.
Try something like:
Aubergine curry with basmati rice. Be careful not to add too much chilli as this will aggravate Pitta. Coconut milk/cream is a great addition to help cool your Pitta.
Grilled chicken or white fish with steamed vegetables and rice, quinoa or barley. Barley is particularly drying and cooling for Pitta.
Be aware that, fermented vegetables: kimchi may aggravate Pitta.
Red lentil soup. (Omit the Harissa) Serve this its a side of sautéed veg and grains.
Whole wheat pasta, pesto, and fresh vegetables (like peppers, broccoli, carrots, celery, green beans,mushrooms, courgette, or black olives). Garnish the pasta with crumbled goats cheese, olive oil, and coriander.
Dinner is ideally a bit smaller and lighter than lunch, but it also needs to sustain pitta’s active metabolism. A simple but nourishing meal, or a slightly smaller serving of lunch can work well.
Sprouted Mung dal with roasted vegetables and basmati rice.
Grilled white fish or meat with steamed veg and a smaller portion of carbohydrates.
Beans and vegetables cooked in cooling spices, sautéed green beans, quinoa or flatbread.
Vata is balanced by a diet of freshly cooked, whole foods that are soft in texture, rich in protein and fat, seasoned with a variety of warming spices, and served warm or hot. These foods calm Vata by lubricating and nourishing the tissues, preserving moisture, and maintaining warmth, all while supporting Vata’s delicate digestive system.
Qualities to Favour and Avoid
Vata is cool, dry, rough and light, so eating foods that balance these qualities is important. Foods that are warm, moist, oily, smooth, and nourishing can help to balance excess Vata.
Favour Warm Over Cold
The warm quality can be emphasised by eating foods that are warm in temperature, foods that have a warming post digestive effect. Using warming spices generously is very beneficial for Vata types.
It is best to avoid or limit foods with a cooling effect, cold and frozen foods or drinks, carbonated drinks, large quantities of raw fruits and vegetables, and even leftovers that have been kept in the refrigerator or freezer.
Favour Moist and Oily Over Dry
Vata’s dryness is balanced by eating cooked rather than raw foods, which can be quite taxing on the digestive system. Cooking and garnishing foods with generous amounts of high-quality oils or ghee, and staying hydrated will help lubricate Vata’s inherent dryness . Drink plenty of fluids, ideally warm or hot, but no cooler than room-temperature. Avoid drinking iced drinks when eating as this can dampen Vata’s agni (digestive fire).
Moist foods like berries, melons, summer squash, courgette, and yogurt help offset vata’s dry quality, as can soups or stews. Oily foods like avocado, olives, buttermilk, cheese, eggs, whole milk, wheat, nuts and seeds are generally supportive as well. Although nuts provide the oily quality which benefits Vata, but they should be soaked before eating. Soaked and peeled almonds are a great choice.
Avoid exceptionally drying foods like popcorn, crackers, white potatoes, beans, and dried fruits. Adding warming spices and oil make these foods more suitable for Vata types.
Favour Grounding, Nourishing, and Stabilising Over Light
While the heavy quality of foods help to balance vata’s lightness, very heavy foods like deep-fried food can be too much vata’s delicate digestion.
Eating too much in one sitting can also be overly heavy, so it’s important not to overeat. It’s better to think in terms of grounding vata’s lightness with sustenance. Generally, these foods have a naturally sweet taste. Cooked grains, spiced milk, root vegetables, stewed fruits, nuts, and seeds are good examples.
Highly processed foods such as canned foods, ready-made meals, and pastries are often quite heavy, lack prana (vital life force) and are generally quite detrimental to Vata. Similarly, stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine, and hard alcohol should be avoided, as they are generally not supportive of Vata’s need to stay grounded and stable.
Favour Smooth Over Rough
The fibrous structure of fruit and vegetables gives them a very rough quality. This is why Vata does well to resist large quantities of raw vegetables and fruits. Even cooked, some foods like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, dark leafy greens, and many beans are exceptionally rough and should be limited. The addition of oil and spices will improve their digestibility.
Foods which are smooth in texture e.g. bananas, rice pudding, hot cereal, hot spiced milk, puréed soups, can help balance vata’s roughness.
Tastes to Favour and Avoid
Vata is pacified by the sweet, sour, and salty tastes and aggravated by the pungent, bitter, and astringent tastes.
Favour naturally sweet foods like fruits, most grains, milk, ghee, fresh yogurt, eggs, nuts, seeds, most
oils, and bata-pacifying meats. Vata is the most suited meat eater of the three Doshas as the heating
quality of meat nourished Vata’s coldness.
Sweet foods tend to be grounding, nourishing, strength building, and satisfying.
Refined sugar or sugary sweet foods should be kept to a minimum as they can lead to excessively high
blood sugar level followed by a crash.
Favour sour additions like a squeeze of lemon or lime juice, a splash of vinegar, a side portion of kimchi
or sauerkraut, a bowl of miso, a slice of cheese or sour cream.
Sour fruits like green grapes, oranges, pineapple, and grapefruit are also appropriate when eaten alone,
and in moderation.
Pungent is a spicy, hot flavour like that found in chilies, radishes, turnips, raw onions, and many spices. Although, in moderation, most spices are actually vata pacifying, the pungent taste is hot, dry and light; too much of it is extremely drying and aggravates the dry, rough quality of Vata.
The bitter taste is found in bitter greens like kale and chard. It is also found in, Jerusalem artichokes, dark chocolate, coffee and pitta pacifying spices like cumin, neem leaves, saffron, and turmeric. The bitter
taste is cooling, rough, drying, light, all of which aggravate vata.
The astringent taste is basically a flavour of dryness: a chalky taste that dries the mouth. Imagine eating
an unripe banana or spinach.
Pulses: adzuki beans, black-eyed peas, chick peas, kidney beans, lentils, pinto beans, soybeans, etc.
are classically astringent in taste. Some fruits, vegetables, grains, baked goods, and spices are also
astringent in taste: things like apples, cranberries, pomegranate, artichokes, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce,
popcorn, rice cakes, crackers, basil, coriander, dill, fennel, parsley, and turmeric.
The astringent taste is dry, cold, heavy and rough in nature, so aggravates vata.
How to Eat
Routine will help balance Vata, so the practice of eating three meals per day at a regular time further reduces vata and helps to strengthen Vata’s delicate digestion. It is important to eat in a peaceful environment and not to ‘eat on the run’.
It is impossible to avoid all vata-aggravating foods so you can make them more suitable by cooking them well with warming spices. Food is best served warm and garnished generously with oil or ghee.
As vata requires regular nourishment, so it is best to avoid fasting.
Breakfast is an important meal when vata is elevated. A carbohydrate rich, nourishing, warming breakfast is most suitable for Vata. Eggs and buttered toast is a suitable choice for vata and can be served with sautéed mushrooms
Hot Cereals. Oats can be too drying for Vata. Try making porridge from rice, quinoa or buckwheat. For richer, creamier breakfast, the grains can be cooked in milk (almond or rice milk is a good option). Add
sweet, warming spices such as dry ginger, cinnamon and cardamon to improve its digestibility. If you are
adding dried fruits to your warming porridge, first, soak them overnight in ginger tea. Otherwise the dry
nature of the fruits will draw water from the already dry body or colon of Vata.
Another fantastically nourishing breakfast is a date and almond shake, made from soaked dates,soaked
and peeled almonds, and boiled milk (or a substitute) – blended together with warming spices like
cinnamon and nutmeg.
Ideally, lunch is the main meal of the day, meaning it’s the largest and the most nourishing of the three. Nourishing grains, steamed and sautéed vegetables, appropriate breads, soups and stews are suitable for lunch.
Try something like: Leek and potato soup. Add some grated parmesan cheese after cooking.
Roasted, spiced butternut squash served with rice.
Spiced spinach with paneer cheese served with rice or flat bread.
Dinner is ideally a bit smaller and lighter than lunch. It is important not to eat too late in the evening. Ideally leave 2 hours before bed.
Grilled mackerel with spiced cabbage.