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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 May 15, 2019

    How to Tap Into the Power of Positivity

    How to Tap Into the Power of Positivity

    As it appears, the human mind is not capable of not thinking, at least on the subconscious level. Our mind is always occupied by thoughts, whether we want to or not, and they influence our every action.

    “Happiness cannot come from without, it comes from within.” – Helen Keller

    When we are still children, our thoughts seem to be purely positive. Have you ever been around a 4-year old who doesn’t like a painting he or she drew? I haven’t. Instead, I see glee, exciting and pride in children’s eyes. But as the years go by, we clutter our mind with doubts, fears and self-deprecating thoughts.

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    Just imagine then how much we limit ourselves in every aspect of our lives if we give negative thoughts too much power! We’ll never go after that job we’ve always wanted because our nay-saying thoughts make us doubt our abilities. We’ll never ask that person we like out on a date because we always think we’re not good enough.

    We’ll never risk quitting our job in order to pursue the life and the work of our dreams because we can’t get over our mental barrier that insists we’re too weak, too unimportant and too dumb. We’ll never lose those pounds that risk our health because we believe we’re not capable of pushing our limits. We’ll never be able to fully see our inner potential because we simply don’t dare to question the voices in our head.

    But enough is enough! It’s time to stop these limiting beliefs and come to a place of sanity, love and excitement about life, work and ourselves.

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    So…how exactly are we to achieve that?

    It’s not as hard as it may seem; you just have to practice, practice, practice. Here are a few ideas on how you can get started.

    1. Learn to substitute every negative thought with a positive one.

    Every time a negative thought crawls into your mind, replace it with a positive thought. It’s just like someone writes a phrase you don’t like on a blackboard and then you get up, erase it and write something much more to your liking.

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    2. See the positive side of every situation, even when you are surrounded by pure negativity.

    This one is a bit harder to put into practice, which does not mean it’s impossible.

    You can find positivity in everything by mentally holding on to something positive, whether this be family, friends, your faith, nature, someone’s sparkling eyes or whatever other glimmer of beauty. If you seek it, you will find it.

    3. At least once a day, take a moment and think of 5 things you are grateful for.

    This will lighten your mood and give you some perspective of what is really important in life and how many blessings surround you already.

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    4. Change the mental images you allow to enter your mind.

    How you see yourself and your surroundings make a huge difference to your thinking. It is like watching a DVD that saddens and frustrates you, completely pulling you down. Eject that old DVD, throw it away and insert a new, better, more hopeful one instead.

    So, instead of dwelling on dark, negative thoughts, consciously build and focus on positive, light and colorful images, thoughts and situations in your mind a few times a day.

    If you are persistent and keep on working on yourself, your mind will automatically reject its negative thoughts and welcome the positive ones.

    And remember: You are (or will become) what you think you are. This is reason enough to be proactive about whatever is going on in your head.

    Featured photo credit: Kyaw Tun via unsplash.com

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