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Feel Lousy? Feed Your Dosha

Feel Lousy? Feed Your Dosha

Most of us have had symptoms of lethargy, irritability, or just feeling run down without a specific infection or disease being the issue. Why does this happen? Is it just that we don’t know what the disease is? Why do we frequently experience real illness, like the common cold, when we allow our immune systems to be affected by undiagnosed ague?

Western medicine, though extremely valuable, does not provide many answers when there is no illness. While science recognizes the value of healthy living, more emphasis is placed on treatment than prevention. Oh sure, your medical professional will mention you need to exercise or lose weight during an office visit. But they rarely offer real help in achieving those changes. I think most people find it easier to make changes when they understand why the change is helpful. That is where traditional medicine, such as Ayurveda, can assist. Practiced in India for over 4,000 years (except during the British reign when it was forbidden), this ancient body of knowledge is extremely helpful in understanding why you feel lousy.

More than likely your tiredness or sadness or whatever manifestation you experience is not a medically recognized disease, but rather the imbalance that breeds in exhausted, flabby, and malnourished bodies trying to keep pace in a frenzied lifestyle. These imbalances of both the mind and the body are recognized and explained in Ayurvedic concepts. Holistic approaches, such as Ayurveda, offer insight and answers that can restore well-being. And that keeps you not only feeling healthy, but actually being healthy and strong enough to ward off real illness.

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Ayurveda Provides Guidance for Health

A healthy, long life depends on the choices made daily. So, no real news there. The adage of small changes making a big difference is true, but many of us find the smallest changes too daunting to incorporate and sustain in daily life. But if you can visualize how the change is working and understand the specific value of the change, it is easier to muster the willpower or maintain enthusiasm for the new regimen. That is the usefulness of Ayurvedic principles. Imbalances are explained in terms of mind and body states that make sense and when we attempt a change and can actually visualize what we are adjusting, it makes it easier to follow through with the improvement.

The holistic approach of Ayurveda involves using supplements, behavioral changes, and diet to eliminate problems of mind and body. When there is an imbalance of doshas, the lifestyles and dietary managements that are based on these doshas get disturbed.

Understanding Your Dosha

Everything in nature, including us, is made from five elements: space, air, fire, water and earth. These elements combine to form three basic body-mind profiles called doshas. Understanding your most influential dosha helps you understand what lifestyle changes are right for you to feel and be healthy. You have probably noticed that what works for you does not work for others. That is because each dosha reacts and interacts differently. In Sanskrit, the ancient language of Ayurvedic texts, the doshas are called kapha, pitta, and vata.

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Use the chart below to determine your dominant dosha. You may have one dominant dosha or a combination of any or all, usually with one profile that is more dominant.

image representing a chart of how to determine and understand your ayurvedic dosha

    Feeding Your Dosha Properly

    Ayurveda practices repair imbalances using herbs and minerals, massage, yoga, and lifestyle changes—particularly diet. So, here is more about how to feed your dosha.

    The Ayurvedic classification of food identifies six tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent, and astringent. Each taste has different effects on the energy of the body and mind. A food’s taste classification will either aggravate (imbalance) or pacify (balance) a particular dosha. For example, someone with pitta excess may cause imbalances by eating hot, spicy foods.

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    Balancing Vata

    Too much bitter, astringent, or spicy tastes imbalance vata. If your dominant dosha is vata, focus your diet on sweet, sour, and salty tastes in foods that are warm, moist, and easily digestible. Some examples of foods for vata are:

    • Grains such as rice and wheat
    • Starchy vegetables: boiled or steamed
    • Eat broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini and leafy vegetables in moderation
    • Ripe fruits including citrus
    • Warm milk (use dairy moderately)
    • Nuts, particularly almonds
    • White meat, chicken and fish: broiled, baked or grilled
    • Oils: ghee, sesame, olive, peanut
    • Tea: lemon, chamomile, ginger, licorice
    • Mild spices: ginger, cinnamon, cloves, fennel, cumin/coriander, mustard, salt, black pepper
    • Warm soups and casseroles balance vata, especially in the colder winter months

    Balancing Pitta

    Pitta imbalance can be caused by hot, spicy, oily, fried, salty, or fermented foods, and even alcohol. The following sweet, bitter, and astringent tastes in cool, heavy dishes balance pitta:

    • Vegetables including bitter leafy greens: boiled, steamed, or raw
    • Sweet fruits including sweet citrus
    • Fresh dairy in moderate amounts
    • Grains: basmati rice, couscous, wheat, barley, oats
    • Mild, cooling spices: cloves, turmeric, cumin, coriander, mint, dill, fresh ginger
    • Nuts: sunflower and almond in moderation, most are too oily
    • Oils: ghee, sunflower, olive, canola, small amounts of sesame
    • Mostly vegetarian diet, but baked or broiled white meat, chicken or turkey are least aggravating
    • Tea: chamomile, red clover, peppermint, spearmint, licorice

    Balancing Kapha

    Oily, heavy foods, dairy, and cold iced drinks, as well as over-eating and a sedentary lifestyle, can imbalance kapha. A lighter, warm diet of low-fat, pungent, bitter, and astringent tastes are recommended, for example:

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    • Pungent vegetables like artichokes, beets, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, horseradish, chilies, spinach, radishes, cilantro, eggplant: boiled, steamed, or raw
    • Astringent fruits like very ripe apples, cherries, cranberries, pomegranates, and dried fruit (avoid bananas)
    • Fat-free buttermilk (remember to keep dairy intake low)
    • Honey (use as a sugar substitute)
    • Grains: white basmati rice, dry crackers (no salt), couscous, oats, barley, corn, millet, rye, wheat bran
    • Strong spices: pepper, paprika, garlic, basil, allspice, fennel (most spices are good for kapha)
    • Nuts: almonds in small amounts, most are too oily for kapha
    • Oil: small amounts of corn, canola, or olive
    • Meats: freshwater fish, shrimp, rabbit, venison, white meat, chicken and turkey
    • Tea: raspberry, cinnamon, fenugreek, peppermint

    Feel Healthy by Feeding Your Dosha Right

    Overall good health is achieved when your doshas are in balance. Understanding why your dosha is out of balance and how to regain feeling healthy makes it easier to permanently adopt changes required to properly feed your dosha. Feed your dosha according to its needs and you will restore balance, feeling more energetic, focused, and healthy.

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    Last Updated on January 21, 2020

    The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

    The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

    Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

    your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

      Why You Need a Vision

      Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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      How to Create Your Life Vision

      Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

      What Do You Want?

      The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

      It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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      Some tips to guide you:

      • Remember to ask why you want certain things
      • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
      • Give yourself permission to dream.
      • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
      • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

      Some questions to start your exploration:

      • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
      • What would you like to have more of in your life?
      • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
      • What are your secret passions and dreams?
      • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
      • What do you want your relationships to be like?
      • What qualities would you like to develop?
      • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
      • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
      • What would you most like to accomplish?
      • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

      It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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      What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

      Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

      A few prompts to get you started:

      • What will you have accomplished already?
      • How will you feel about yourself?
      • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
      • What does your ideal day look like?
      • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
      • What would you be doing?
      • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
      • How are you dressed?
      • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
      • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
      • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

      It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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      Plan Backwards

      It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

      • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
      • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
      • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
      • What important actions would you have had to take?
      • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
      • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
      • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
      • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
      • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

      Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

      It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

      Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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