Kapha Balancing Diet
Understanding Kapha Dosha
Ayurvedic dietary recommendations for kapha type individuals follow a common sense approach, requiring small changes to your food choices and eating habits. The importance of a wholesome diet that includes every food group is heavily emphasized, but there are clear guidelines on specific foods and beverages that should be included or limited. These recommendations are based on the unique properties of your dominant dosha and an analysis of the unique properties of foods, which influences their interaction with the doshas.
When planning an Ayurvedic kapha diet, we look at 3 important qualities or characteristics of food – Rasa or taste, Virya or energy, and Vipaka or post-digestive effect. Understanding this Ayurvedic classification of food and your unique doshic makeup will allow you to make informed dietary choices. This can be a bit tricky when you’re just getting started, which is why it helps to refer to a dosha-specific diet guide. So, here’s what every kapha type individual should keep in mind.
Kapha Pacifying Food Qualities
As a kapha type individual, you are more vulnerable to imbalances of kapha aggravation. Your diet should therefore include foods that possess qualities to counter your dominant dosha’s influence. Since kapha’s qualities are cold, heaviness, rigidity, and dullness, your foods should be heating, light, and drying.
According to Ayurveda, sour, pungent, and bitter tastes have a pacifying effect on kapha and should be included in any kapha balancing diet. This is because these three tastes are ascribed with energy that is heating, light, and drying. The intake of foods with these tastes helps to pacify kapha, when used in moderation.
As heating energy is important for kapha types, it is best to have foods and drinks that have a heating effect, with meals generally being warm or piping hot. To counter the heavy and dulling effect of your dosha, you need to have foods that are stimulating and light, which would require a lower intake of fatty foods. Just remember that there are essential healthy fats too, which is why some amount of fat and oil intake is still essential.
Kapha Aggravating Food Qualities
As we mentioned previously, Ayurveda emphasizes a wholesome approach to dieting that includes all food groups. Although some foods and food qualities do pose a risk of aggravating kapha, they should be included in your diet. However, these foods should be consumed in limited quantities.
Foods that can aggravate kapha include those with sweet, salty, and astringent tastes. These tastes are ascribed with qualities that are cooling, heavy, and oily, accentuating kapha’s qualities. Because of your kapha constitution, it is advisable to restrict your intake of cooling foods, especially those that are not natural. This would mean avoiding or drastically restricting the intake of frozen foods and chilled beverages. Foods that are heavy and cause feelings of sluggishness should also be restricted and these would typically include deep fried and excessively oily foods. As far as possible you should avoid consuming any processed junk foods.
The Best Foods for Your Dosha
The best way to start your day is with a cup of hot lemon tea, but you could also opt for other kapha pacifying herbs like ginger or licorice.
Breakfast is regarded as optional and unnecessary for kapha type individuals, especially if you do not feel any urge to eat. If you would prefer to have breakfast, make sure that you opt for small servings and stick with light foods. For this reason, fresh fruits, stewed fruit, fruit juice or smoothies would suffice. The ideal choice of fruits would include the likes of apples, cherries, grapefruit, cranberries, guavas, and pomegranate. Dry fruits are the best choice for kapha types as they are not too sweet.
Fresh fruit juice
Ayurveda regards lunch as the most important meal of the day, so no matter how busy your schedule may be, try to have a wholesome and balanced meal that includes various food groups. The ideal foods to include in your lunch include the likes of barley, split yellow múng dal, ghee, leafy greens like celery, asparagus, broccoli, and lettuce. Vegetables may be cooked, sautéed or even added to raw salads in summer and could include bell peppers, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, corn, potatoes, and radish.
Brown rice salad
To add flavor and enhance the heating energy of your meal, you can garnish your food with chilies, hot peppers, anise, black pepper, cloves, fenugreek, garlic, ginger, horseradish, oregano, and saffron. Aside from rice-based meals, you can also consume buckwheat chapatis or whole grain tortillas. To ensure adequate protein intake, make it a point to also include some legumes in your meals, mung beans, red lentils, soy beans, and split peas being the best choices. Meats may be consumed, but you should limit your intake to just twice or thrice a week, sticking with chicken, turkey, or freshwater fish.
Although dinner is an important meal, it should be smaller and lighter than your lunch. The ideal kapha dinner would be an artichoke pasta, with ghee, burdock, and cardamom or a thick rye soup, with garbanzo beans, beets, and cardamom. Sautéed veggies with a small serving of rice can also make for a healthy dinner, but you can skip the rice altogether, especially if you normally find it to be healthy. Quinoa would be a good substitute for rice because of its rich nutritional profile.
Artichoke pasta with other vegetables
If you opt for a salad or pasta dinner, just make sure to use a dressing or gravy that is light and not too oily. This means that you could use a bit of sunflower oil or ghee, but avoid using a thick mayonnaise or tartar cream dressing. Cooking vinegar is a particularly good choice for kapha types because of its astringent qualities. Your meals can be washed down with a cup of refreshing mint or cinnamon tea.
Kapha types should avoid snacking as far as possible as this tends to increase food cravings and over indulgence. If you must snack between meals, keep your serving size small and stick to dry fruits like raisins, apricots, and dried figs. Lightly dry-roasted seeds of sunflower and pumpkin may also be consumed in small amounts. The best option of course, would be to stick to herbal teas like chamomile, basil, ginger, or mint tea.
Herbal chamomile tea
Timing Your Meals
As a kapha type, you’re probably already aware of the importance of a daily routine or dinacharya in Ayurveda. Meal timings are an important facet of this daily schedule and should be adhered to as far as possible. Keeping this in mind you should consume your:
- Breakfast at around 7 am
- Lunch at 1 pm
- Dinner between 7 to 8 pm
Obviously, adhering strictly to this routine can be challenging, but as a kapha type individual this is particularly important because of the high risk of over indulgence and binge eating. Regularity in meal timings and in accordance with your dosha type will not just offer physical health benefits, but it also strengthens your mind.
The Final Word
Your diet is something personal and these guidelines are meant precisely as that – to serve as a guide. You should use your own discretion to choose the right foods and meal times, but these Ayurvedic recommendations can help point you in the right direction. Just make it a point to include as wide a variety of these foods using the information provided. After all, Ayurveda emphasizes the importance of balanced nutrition and the whole range of food available to humans is more than we could fit into a single page! Simply avoid consumption of heavily processed and refined foods, as these foods are known to raise ama levels, increasing the risk of chronic lifestyle diseases.
- Tirtha, Swami Sadashiva. The Ayurveda Encyclopedia: Natural Secrets to Healing, Prevention & Longevity. 2nd ed., Ayurveda Holistic Center Press, 2007.
- Lad, Vasant. The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies. Three Rivers Press, 1999.
The information on this page has been contributed by Meghna Unhawane, B.Sc. Home Science & Nutrition and is intended for the sole use of Allayurveda. Information contained within this article may not be reproduced without the explicit permission of Allayurveda.