[Learn Ayurveda] Diet for Your Constitution
Use the Right Tip Sheet for Your Constitution
If you’ve taken an Ayurvedic constitutional quiz, you’re ready to dial in the most basic tips to honor the particular digestive pattern that comes with your constitution. These tips will help you do just that.
(You should also learn about Enhancing Your Digestion. The following tips come secondary to that. And if you haven’t Befriended Your Constitution, you’ll also want to read that first. Then, print the Food + Focus tip sheet for your constitution. You can also choose the Food + Focus tip sheet for the season you're in — the seasonal weather and harvest affect what we should be eating just as much as our constitutions do (apple pie sounds good in autumn and watermelon is mouth-watering on a hot summer day, right?).
Use the Right Tip Sheet for the Season
- Autumn–Early Winter: Vata Food + Focus
- Late Winter–Early Spring: Kapha Food + Focus
- Summer: Pitta Food + Focus
Some Rules of Thumb with Constitutional Diets
Know What Gets You in Trouble
- For Pittas, hot sauce and cocktails will burn you out.
- For Kaphas, sweet, creamy comfort foods will smother your cells in ama.
- For Vatas, crunchy foods or caffeinated bevvies will disperse your power.
Befriend Your Agni
The next piece of the puzzle that can help everything make sense is to befriend your agni. Feel into the center of where you get hungry. Are you hungry? You’re feeling your agni. If you aren’t hungry, your agni is at work digesting your food. The power of digestion is the gateway to a healthy body and mind.
Pitta people have high agni — hot, acidic digestion — which reinforces their natural intensity. Kapha types tend to have slow agni — cold, damp digestion — which makes them feel sluggish. Vata types’ agni is often weaker and it fluctuates, which creates more sporadic eating habits.
- Tendency to think about food too much >>> kapha
- Tendency to think about food too little >>> vata
- Tendency to get “hangry” >>> pitta
Diet Tips for Kapha
Digest Before You Ingest
You can’t afford meal-stacking. Allow 4–6 hours to digest completely. Have 2–3 meals a day — tops. You don’t need snacks, big fella.
1/3 Food, 1/3 Water, 1/3 Space
When you eat, save some room. You need space for digestion.
Keep It Light + Crunchy
Heavy and dense are out. Light and crunchy are in. Eating rich, mushy comfort foods isn’t in your long-term interest. Rice over wheat. Beans over meat. Greens over roots. Spicy over salt. Celery over carrots. You get the picture.
Chew on Fennel
Kaphas can use spices as food. Instead of snacking, sip hot water and chew on toasted fennel seeds.
Beans Are Better
Meat is heavy and dense, which will make you feel heavy and dense. You don’t want that.
Spice It Up
Use spice to invigorate your blood: cayenne, black peppers, cloves, and cinnamon. Go big and bold.
You store energy longer than most people. Are you feeling heavy, full, or stagnant? Take the day off from eating. Enjoy a day of juicing, broths, or hot lemon-honey water. Take a walk and get a massage. (Or at least skip dinner now and then.)
The Land of Lemon and Honey
Lemon and raw honey are your pals, so use them instead of pastries and chocolates. Try hot water with lemon, honey, and a pinch of cayenne. Have a spoonful of honey instead of ice cream, or try a handful of raisins instead of chocolates.
Diet Tips for Pitta
Lunch Is the New Dinner
If you skip it, you’ll burn out. Make it heavy enough to get you to dinner by 6 p.m. without distraction. And while we’re on the topic, don’t skip breakfast.
Mantra: Keep It Clean
Your body has a super-sensitive tox-o-meter. Don’t abuse it. Eat clean, whole foods or you’ll suffer more than most. Grease and processed calories will knock you out faster than Muhammad Ali.
Chlorophyll Is Your Friend
Chlorophyll is green. Green plants have chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is your lifeblood, so have green smoothies, salads, and soups. Go big.
Beans Are Better
Digestion is your ace in the hole — which means you can digest beans. Beans are cooling. Meats are heating. Use white meats over dark or red when you indulge.
Savory Over Spicy
Spiciness will burn you out. Use cilantro, basil, mint, lemon balm, rose, lemongrass, coconut, dill, fennel, cardamom, and coriander instead of the pepper family.
You need sweet tastes to chill out your edge. Honey is too hot. Use fresh juicy fruits, maple syrup, or dates in your sweets. Try sweet grains like wheat, rice, and oats. Use olive, sunflower, and coconut oils.
Diet Tips for Vata
Schedule Your Belly Fire
Eat on a schedule like a child to end fatigue and bloating — 7:30 a.m., 12 p.m., and 5 p.m. are swell. Sip hot water between meals.
Use Starter Fluid
If you bloat or skip meals, mix equal parts of cumin, coriander, and fennel powder in a plastic baggie. Take 1 teaspoon in ½-cup of hot water before you eat. Add a pinch of hing (asafoetida) for the brave and bloated.
Mantra: Warm. Spicy. Oily.
Balance your cold, dry, rough qualities with marinated salads, fermented foods, and one-pot meals with a little kick to ease your belly.
Foods that combine before they hit your belly are less work for you to digest. Give yourself a break.
Slow Down and Sit Down, Sister
Seriously. Take 5 breaths to set yourself into rest-and-digest mode. Savor the experience.
Spice It Up
Cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, ginger, black pepper, cumin, basil, and mustard seed all pacify vata. Favor warming spices in all your meals to aid digestion and keep yourself warm all day long.
Start with Stewed Apples
Ease your gut into the day. Heat warming spices in ghee or butter and add the fruit and enough water to cover. Cook until soft.