Enlightened State

Which Foods Should You Choose? An Ayurveda Primer

FoodMorgan VanekComment

Are you as overwhelmed as I am by the amount of nutrition advice out there? There is so much conflicting information - vegan, paleo, gluten-free, keto, juice cleanse... How are we supposed to know what's really best? 

I've tried many of these diets and more, and one thing I've found is that it's best to take an intuitive approach to our food choices.  By listening to what your body is telling you about the way certain foods make you feel, you'll naturally start to gravitate toward a healthy diet.   But if you want more insight into the way that nutrition works in your body, I recommend learning about the principles of Ayurveda

Ayurveda isn't a diet. It's a lifestyle based on the principle of balance. It originated in India in about 5000 BC, and it encourages people to live in a way that is harmonious with their environment. There are many ways for you to incorporate Ayurveda into your life, especially when it comes to food. 

In Ayurveda, there are three primary elements, or doshas. All people and all of nature contain all three elements, but one dosha is typically more dominant. Primary doshas can change depending on your natural constitution, the season, the weather, the time of year, and more. This means that even though you are naturally inclined toward one element, the other doshas still play a part in keeping you healthy. The idea behind the Ayurvedic lifestyle is to bring your body into balance as much as possible. 

Since health is tied closely with nutrition, the choices you make when it comes to food are an important part of bringing your health into balance. Once you know more about your body and understand the doshas, you can eat in a way that will make you feel better. 

I recommend taking a quiz like this one from the Chopra Center to discover your dominant dosha. However, it's important to learn about all three so that you can better understand how to bring your body into balance. Keep reading to learn about each element and how to maintain an equilibrium when it comes to your health. 


My primary dosha is Vata, which is represented best by the wind element. Vata people are usually creative fast-talkers who are constantly in motion. They have a tendency to be cold and get anxious easily. If you're a Vata, you should focus on eating warming foods with sweet and sour flavors. Be sure to eat things that are cooked (salads might make you gassy, so go for a bowl of soup instead) and try to reduce stress your stress levels as much as possible. 


Even though I'm a Vata, I often find my Kapha getting out of whack. Kapha types, represented by the earth and water elements, are warm people who display a lot of softness and stability in their lives. They may get depressed or gain weight easily. If you're a Kapha person, go for light foods with a spicy kick, and avoid processed sugars. Make an effort to get out and enjoy the world around you - home might be the coziest place you can imagine, but you need some excitement to function at your best. 


I know and admire several Pitta types - they're easy to spot because they're such go-getters. Pitta is represented by the fire element, and if you're a Pitta person, you're passionate, assertive, confident, and strong. Pittas tend to get hot easily and may be quick to anger. Focus on eating cooling foods - drink plenty of water, enjoy lots of avocado  and healthy greens in your meals, and ditch the spicy sauces. Consider starting a meditation practice to still yourself and learn self-control. 

What is primary dosha? How do you bring balance into your life?