(Source: TMingi/Thinkstock)"Hey baby, what's your dosha?" Whether you know what that means (or not), you're about to get schooled. In the name of diet and healing, we asked Ayurveda Practitioner Cynthia King of 5 Element Spa to explain the ancient holistic medical system's approach to diet, and how each of us can benefit from an Ayurvedic approach to food.
What exactly is self-healing through food?
"Within Ayurveda, formulated recipes of food, herbs and spices support balance in an individual’s constitution and body systems. Self-healing through food can include cooking methods, eating times, quantity of food and simple food combinations to promote healthy day to day living."
Can you briefly explain what Ayurveda is and how to determine your dosha?
"Ayurveda is the world’s oldest recorded and proven holistic medical system that directly translates to the science and knowledge (veda) of life (ayur). Your Ayurveda constitution refers to your genetically inherited physical and emotional qualities. These complimentary energies are described in terms of doshas: vata, pitta, and kapha; the three doshas are comprised of the five “great elements” which create their distinctive qualities. Vata dosha is made up of space and air; pitta dosha is fire and water; kapha dosha is water and earth."
Take this basic online quiz to determine yours.
Once you know that, what are some of the best foods to eat for each dosha––and why?
"When it comes to tastes and food choices, the following general principles apply for each dosha. Vata: consume warm/unctuous foods and warm drinks; foods with predominately sweet, sour and salty tastes are best; avoid cold, dry foods and drinks.
Pitta: cool foods and drinks are best, foods with predominately sweet, bitter and astringent tastes can bring balance; avoid pungent, sour and salty tastes.
Kapha: foods with pungent, bitter and astringent tastes are best; avoid or reduce sweet, sour and salty foods. To learn more, invest in a reputable Ayurveda cookbook that contains detailed food charts for each dosha, like Ayurvedic Cooking for Self-Healing by Usha Lad & Dr. Vasant Lad."
What else should people keep in mind when approaching diet from an Ayurvedic point of view?
"Above all, the state in which one eats can often trump what we eat. Giving thanks, chewing slowly, sitting down, eating simply, eating locally and with consciousness can improve our digestion immensely. Go easy on yourself, give thanks and imagine your body properly digesting all of your food. If you are dealing with chronic issues of digestion or elimination, seek out an Ayurveda practitioner for specialized assistance."
Learn more about Cynthia's Ayurvedic practice at 5elementspa.com