Eating the Ayurvedic Way
Have you ever taken an online quiz to determine your dosha according to Ayurveda and it asked you questions about what was wrong with your health? For example,
After eating a heavy meal, you experience
a) heartburn or indigestion
b) bloating and gas
c) a heavy feeling
Does that not strike you as odd? In order to determine your natal Prakriti (the nature you were born with), you are being asked questions about your current and temporary situation.
What these quizzes are trying to determine is what your imbalances are. Imbalance, also known as vikriti, is what we address in Ayurvedic consultations. Because Ayurveda is an individualized approach to health, a 30-second quiz on a website is not likely to paint an accurate portrait of your health. For most people, it confuses them even more.
I once had a client who was a clear Pitta-Vata dosha, struggling with a Kapha disorder. I suggested a light Kapha diet with Ama Pachana. She had taken a quiz online that told her to eat a Vata diet (per her natal prakriti) which was aggravating Kapha. She could not understand why I was suggesting a Kapha diet if she was a Vata dosha.
In Ayurveda, we consider a person's mind, body, spirit, and environment when suggesting dietary and lifestyle changes. We must take the nature of the imbalance into consideration alongside the person's predominant nature. An online quiz, essentially, tells you that you are your imbalance. In a private consultation, we can separate your imbalance from your beautiful, wonderful self, and work towards bringing you back to total health.
So, which diet do you choose to help heal yourself?
First, you must determine your prakriti. We are all made up of characteristics of all three doshas, but most of us have one dosha that is predominant and one that is a close second. While some people are tridoshic, meaning all three doshas are present in equal parts, the majority of the population has one or two doshas that are more predominant than the others. This means that your nature will be one of the following 10 types:
The way to determine your correct prakriti on your own is in the how you look and how you typically feel. When you attend my Ayurveda 101 workshop, I will help you determine this for yourself using a survey that focuses on your physical characteristics. If you identify strongly with more than one dosha, there is a good chance that you are a combination dosha. Here are some of the common traits associated with each type:
Vata- Thin, small bones, prominent joints, small features, dislikes the cold, tends to worry, variable appetite, adaptable to new situations, creative
(Photo is of a Vata woman.)
Pitta- Medium stature and features, light colored eyes, dislikes the heat, large appetite, passionate about certain (or all) topics, fair or reddish skin, motivated, independent
(Photo is of a Pitta-Kapha man.)
Kapha- Broad frame or "big-boned", large features, lustrous hair and nails, glowing skin, high physical strength, loves animals, family-oriented, sweet nature
(Photo is of a Kapha-Pitta or Pitta-Kapha woman.)
Your natal prakriti doesn't change. It's yours throughout adulthood. Your vikriti does change, however, so it is important to determine that, too. Then, there are other factors that we must consider before deciding on the appropriate diet, such as whether or not a client has ama, which is like a toxic sludge of undigested food in the gut. Yuck! Imbalances with ama are handled differently than those without. You will receive the tools to figure out where you stand during my workshop.
Once you are armed with the knowledge of yourself, we can address what to eat and how to eat. There are 3 basic steps in creating the perfect diet for your current state of health:
Remove Ama if present, and remove the causative factors of your imbalance.
Introduce the appropriate diet based on your imbalance and your predominant dosha.
Educate client on herbal supplementation to assist in the balancing process.
If you, the client, were a Pitta-Kapha dosha with a Vata imbalance and a high amount of ama, I would have you get rid of the ama first and foremost. Sometimes, that's enough to clear up the imbalance! Then, I would address the Vata imbalance with a Vata-diet, but I would be mindful not to aggravate Pitta at the same time. Finally, once the imbalance is mitigated, I would have you maintain health with a Comprehensive Pitta-Kapha diet plan.
As you can see, it's not as simple as the "eat-this-not-that" mentality. I address your entire constitution when making suggestions for your diet. I also ask you to discuss our plan with your Primary Care Physician, to make sure there are no interactions that we need to worry about. It is truly a comprehensive, individual approach to diet and nutrition.
If you want to learn more about your prakriti and vikriti, join my next Ayurveda workshop, offered monthly, or contact me to arrange a workshop for your organization. If you want to skip straight to your own customized wellness plan, I have a solution for that, too!