Finding Your Dosha

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Written By

Lauryn

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Expert Reviewed By

Dr. Lauryn Lax, OTD, MS

Dr. Lauryn, OTD, MS is a doctor of occupational therapy, clinical nutritionists and functional medicine expert with 25 years of clinical and personal experience in healing from complex chronic health issues and helping others do the same.

Thomas Kelley 87815 2 | Finding Your Dosha

Every BODY is different. And every BODY has different needs, accordingly.

For years people have been trying to hack their own health, and figure out things like:

How to  “Eat for Your Blood Type”

Determine what kind of body type (ectomorph, endomorph, mesomorph) they are

Decide whether they should “go ketogenic,” vegetarian or eat more carbs

And beyond

However, these body hack experiments and our human desires to empower our bodies to thrive at their optimal peak is nothing new—dating back to centuries.

Meet: Ayurveda—a  traditional philosophy and system of medicine system of medicine, defining “optimal health” as “balance in the entire body—body, mind and soul.

To achieve this “balance,” ayurvedic philosophies believe our bodies are composed up of a balance three Doshas—the energies that make up every individual, which perform different physiological functions in the body.

The Doshas include:

  1. Vata—Energy that controls bodily functions associated with motion, including blood circulation, breathing, blinking, and your heartbeat.
  2. Pitta-Energy that controls the body’s metabolic systems, including digestion, absorption, nutrition, and your body’s temperature.
  3. And, Kapha-Energy that controls growth in the body. It supplies water to all body parts, moisturizes the skin, and maintains the immune system.

Each person has all three Doshas, but usually one or two dominate. Various Dosha proportions determine one’s physiological and personality traits, as well as general likes and dislikes.

For instance, Vata types are generally more creative and free-flowing whereas Kapha types are more methodical and analytical. Pitta types have “strong digestion” and can eat foods like cruciferous broccoli or spicy foods more easily, than Vata types who tend to have weaker digestion, and easily become constipated when out of balance.

When we recognize our own Dosha, we are then better able to support our nutrition, health, lifestyle, social, mental, emotional and spiritual needs so we can thrive.

What is your Dosha (i.e. primary energy and body type), and the foods and lifestyle factors that best support your body?

DEFINING YOUR DOSHA

Our naturally dominant Dosha signifies who we are in our most healthy, thriving balanced state.

Although defining your Dosha is not an exact science or lab test, check out the list of traits, plus health and nutrition factors that best describe you:

Vata (Wind Energy; Space & Air Elements)

Vata is linked to creativity and flexibility. Vata dictates all movement— flow of breath, your pulsation of the heart, muscle contractions, tissue movements, cellular mobility—and communication throughout the mind and nervous system.

Individuals with a dominant Vata are typically:

  • Light build, thin, often underweight
  • Naturally creative
  • Sensitive
  • Prefer warm, humid climates
  • Dry or Cool skin
  • Tend to have protruding joints and irregular features
  • Enthusiastic, vibrant, and quick to learn
  • Poor memory retention
  • Great counselors or teachers
  • Love the beauty of nature
  • Restless mind
  • Strong spiritual connection; extremely sensitive and attuned to subtle energies
  • Resist conforming to cultural norms, and are very often misunderstood
  • Thrive upon slow, mindful movement like gentle yoga, walking, tai chi, or a relaxed swim

Vata Health, Digestion & Nutrition

Vata types tend towards an irregular appetite and delicate digestion. Vatas usually don’t tolerate gaseous foods and often tend toward constipation. However, Vata types benefit from eating three full meals daily to nourish their thin, wiry frames. They do best with eating foods that are nourishing in nature and softened, cooked or warmed for better digestion.

When Vata is irritated, the body becomes irregular and depleted, affecting weak organs and tissues. Excessive consumption of bitter, astringent and spicy tastes and experiences (i.e. living on the edge, too much variety or a hectic schedule, over-committing, eating a lot of new things) contribute to Vata imbalance.

Additional signs of Vata imbalance are:

  • Constipation
  • Dehydration
  • Anxiety
  • Gas
  • Tingling
  • Stiffness & Numbness
  • Poor Circulation
  • Crave warmth
  • Frequent viral infection
  • Weight loss
  • Disturbed sleep

Healing Foods & Health Practices: Vata

The secret to restoration when Vata gets out of balance?

Vatas thrive with sweet, sour and salty tastes. Their weak gut health also favors nourishing warm, moist, easily digestible foods, such as:

Fruits

  • Avoid harder-to-digest raw fruits (apples, pears) & dried fruit
  • Enjoy cooked apples
  • Bananas
  • Melon
  • Coconut
  • Cherries
  • Apricots
  • Peaches
  • Grapefruit
  • Oranges
  • Plums
  • Lemon/Lime

Vegetables

  • Vegetables that nourish Vata will generally be sweet, moist, and cooked. Root vegetables are especially beneficial because they grow underground, and are therefore grounding and stabilizing for Vatas.
  • Eat boiled, cooked or steamed starchy vegetables (cooked leafy greens, summer squash, starchy tubers like winter squash and sweet potatoes, asparagus)
  • Avoid/moderate cruciferous and raw veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini and raw lettuce/greens, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, peppers, tomatoes)

Dairy

  • Enjoy real, grass-fed whole dairy or goat’s milk to tolerance, particularly Goat’s Milk Kefir, Fermented Yogurt, Butter and Ghee

Nuts

  • In moderation, raw soaked nuts and seeds generally sit well with Vatas

Meats & Eggs

  • Choose sustainably raised meats, wild-caught fish and eggs (pastured, grass-fed, organic)
  • Pork, fat-free turkey (white) and lamb tend to not digest as easily

Healthy Fats and Oils

  • Avoid industrial canola and vegetable oils
  • Eat coconut oil, ghee, olive oil, sesame oil, avocado oil

Spices

  • Sensitive to firery, nightshade spices (chili powder, paprika, cayenne, horseradish)
  • Reach for mild spices: Cumin, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, fennel, coriander, salt, cloves, mustard, black pepper

In addition, these eating practices help Vatas thrive:

  • Eat in a peaceful, nourishing environment
  • Avoid fasting and eat regular meals (3 times per day)
  • Serve meals well-cooked and warmed
  • Avoid dry foods that lead to constipation (high consumption of nuts, nut flours, packaged and processed bars, popcorn, crackers, white potatoes, beans, and dried fruits)
  • Incorporate fermented foods: Sauerkraut, Kimchi
  • Eat Pre-Biotic Foods: Soaked Jasmine Rice and Cooked & Cooled Sweet Potatoes
  • Squeeze lemon or lime on salads, tea or water
  • Sip Herbal tea: camomile, fennel, ginger, licorice, lemon

Pitta (Fire Energy; Fire & Water elements )

Pitta is closely related to intelligence, understanding, digestion, and transformation; it governs nutrition and metabolism, body temperature, and the light of understanding.

Individuals with a dominant Pitta typically are:

  • Medium, muscular build
  • Productive, hard-working, competitive, success-oriented, and driven
  • Easily Irritable
  • Possess innate intelligence, sense of vision, precision, and a natural ability to organize and lead
  • Courageous, persistent, and energetic
  • Can be judgmental or hot headed
  • Prefer cooler climates
  • Deeply soothed by visual beauty
  • Fair skin
  • Aim for balance and harmony with universe
  • Have to consciously slow down and pace themselves in order to maintain balance.
  • Thrive upon sleep around 6 to 8 hours per night (typically with vivid dreams)

Pitta Health, Digestion & Nutrition

Pittas typically have a large appetite and can eat large and filling meals. They usually crave hot, spicy, intoxicating foods and beverages, and also love cooling foods and cold drinks. Pittas tend to have looser stools and a stronger digestive fire than Vata and Kapha types. Pittas generally do well with foods that are sweet, cooling, and flavored with non-heating herbs such as cilantro, coriander, fennel, or dill. They feel better avoiding overly oily, spicy, or fried foods.

When Pitta is imbalanced, you may become more aggressive and irritable. You internalize a fire inside that can increase your self-critic and perfectionism. Pitta imbalance is thought to result from excessive alcohol or hot, spicy, oily, fried, salty, fermented foods.

Other signs of Pitta imbalance include:

  • Diarrhea/IBS
  • Over-heating, profuse sweating
  • Vivid or violent dreams
  • Excessive hunger
  • Frequent bacterial infections or fungal overgrowth
  • Heartburn

Healing Foods & Health Practices: Pitta

Pittas feel best with cooling foods.

Fruits

  • Avoid sour fruits (lemons, sour apples, sour berries, cherries, green grapes, plums, pineapple, oranges)
  • Enjoy Apples
  • Sweet berries
  • Melon
  • Coconut
  • Cherries
  • Apricots
  • Red Grapes
  • Pears
  • Sweet Plums
  • Raisins

Vegetables

  • Can usually digest raw vegetables better than vata and kapha, but mid-day is often the best time of day to have them because digestive strength is at its peak.
  • Avoid spicy, heating, sharp, or sour veggies– like garlic, beets, eggplant, raw onions, olives, tomatoes, green chilies, radishes, onion, hot peppers and mustard greens
  • Eat other veggies in abundance

Dairy

  • Enjoy real, grass-fed whole dairy or goat’s milk to tolerance, particularly Goat’s Milk Kefir, Fermented Yogurt, Butter and Ghee
  • Avoid sour dairy (yogurt with fruit-store bought, hard cheese, salted butter, buttermilk)

Nuts

  • Don’t do well with nuts as they are more oily and heating for their system
  • Moderation with soaked raw almonds, and pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, sunflower seeds
  • Coconut is fine

Meats & Eggs

  • Choose sustainably raised meats, wild-caught fish and eggs (pastured, grass-fed, organic)
  • Don’t do well-digesting meats that are heating: Pork, turkey (dark), beef, dark chicken, salmon, eggs, tuna

Healthy Fats and Oils

  • Avoid industrial canola, soy and vegetable oils
  • Eat cooling coconut oil, ghee, olive oil, avocado oil
  • Reduce especially heating or oily foods (such as eggs, hard cheeses, olives, nuts, red meats)

Spices

  • Most spices are heating by nature and therefore have the potential to aggravate pitta.
  • Reach for cooling spices: cardamom, cilantro, coriander, fennel and mint

In addition, these eating practices help Pittas thrive:

  • Stick to a regular eating schedule and to eat at least three square meals (try not to fall into habit of skipping meals then over eating)
  • Eat at consistent times per day
  • Fasting not recommended but may benefit from a short fruit or juice fast (think apple or pomegranate), or a longer mono diet of kitchari (Aryuvedic cleanse)

Kapha (Water Energy; Earth & Water Elements)

Kapha prefers structure and solidity to all things. It provides the cohesiveness needed to maintain a particular form. Kapha also hydrates all cells and systems, lubricates the joints, moisturizes the skin, maintains immunity and protects the tissues.

Individuals with a dominant Kapha typically are:

  • Heavy build or over-weight more easily
  • Graceful
  • Complacent, calm, grounded, nurturing and loving
  • Stable, methodical
  • Natural teachers and mentors
  • Easy-going
  • Prefer warm, dry climates
  • Oily skin
  • Soft or sultry voice
  • Sleep long hours (find it difficult to get out of bed)
  • Can endure and do well with intense exercise
  • Fertiles

Kapha Health, Digestion & Nutrition

Kapha types are led by their senses of taste and smell. They love eating—especially rich, indulgent foods and sweets. They also have a tendency to consume more than their metabolism can process, so they may gain weight easily. However, they tend to have regular elimination. Kapha individuals feel best to hang  a light breakfast, eat their main meal at lunch, and then a light dinner relatively early in the evening. Kaphas benefit from little to no whole grains and starches, eating lots of vegetables, favoring light, warm, and spicy foods, and emphasizing variety and presentation over quantity in their diets.

Kapha imbalance looks like mental and physical stagnation, as well as feeling “heavy and lethargic.” Stimulation of all kinds helps to “get out of it.”

Some other signs of imbalance:

  • Sluggish bowels
  • Procrastination
  • Craving warmth, spicy foods
  • Bacterial overgrowth
  • Water retention
  • Weight gain
  • Excessive sleep

Healing Foods & Health Practices: Kapha

Rebalance Kapha with a light, warm, fresh diet of pungent, bitter and astringent tastes like:

Fruits

  • Avoid fruits that are exceptionally sweet or sour (like oranges or grapes), and any that are especially heavy, dense, or watery, such as bananas, coconut, dates, melons, pineapple, or plums
  • Fruits are best enjoyed alone – 30 minutes before, and ideally at least 1 hour after, any other food.
  • Enjoy Apples
  • Berries
  • Melon
  • Lemon/Lime
  • Pears
  • Coconut
  • Cherries
  • Apricots
  • Grapes (red, purple)
  • Figs
  • Cranberries
  • Pears
  • Peaches
  • Mango

Vegetables

  • Able to digest most veggies
  • Enjoy pungent, bitter, and astringent veggies
  • Eat raw veggies in small quantities (irritating)
  • Avoid heavy, dense, oily, or watery veggies – like avocado, cucumber, olives, sweet potatoes, summer squash, raw tomatoes

Dairy

  • Minimize dairy, except for ghee, goat’s milk and goat’s cheese, fermented yogurt
  • Other dairy tends to be heavy, unctuous, and can increase mucus production

Nuts

  • Don’t do well with nuts as they are more heavy, dense, and oily for body
  • Moderation with soaked raw almonds, chia seedds, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, sunflower seeds

Meats & Eggs

  • Choose sustainably raised meats, wild-caught fish and eggs (pastured, grass-fed, organic)
  • Feels best with animal foods that are light and relatively dry (like chicken or freshwater fish), as opposed to those that are heavy, oily, or especially dense (such as beef, pork, or duck)

Healthy Fats and Oils

  • Avoid industrial canola, soy and vegetable oils
  • Eat cooling coconut oil, ghee, olive oil, avocado oil

Spices

  • Enjoys most spices
  • Kapha is the only dosha that can usually handle fiery hot foods.

Eating Practices

  • Fill the stomach 1/3 full of food, 1/3 full of liquid, and to leave 1/3 empty for optimal digestion
  • Do well with 2-3 meals per day
  • Chew ginger before meals (especially midday)
  • Eat in peaceful environment and focus on food to eliminate emotional eating
  • Since kapha digestion is generally sluggish and tends to sustain energy with or without food, periodic fasts or cleanses can be very helpful

Your Doshas is not the “end all be all,” but can help you understand your own body even better

Knowledge is power.

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