Knowing Your Ayurvedic Dosha Could Be The Secret To Finding The Right Eating Plan For Your Body

Last updated: 03-04-2020

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Knowing Your Ayurvedic Dosha Could Be The Secret To Finding The Right Eating Plan For Your Body

If you're into wellness (and since you're reading this, I'm guessing you are!), you've probably heard the term Ayurveda thrown around. You may have even heard of it used when talking about diets and healthy eating. The Ayurvedic diet has been practiced in India for centuries but it’s only recently caught on in the U.S. While you might have heard it mentioned here and there, it’s totally understandable that you might be fuzzy on what, exactly, it’s all about.

Ayurveda is an ancient Indian medical practice, and it focuses on healing the mind and body in a holistic way. The Ayurvedic diet in particular is all about finding the best approaches to food based on your body type, known as a dosha, explains Jessica Cording, RD, author of The Little Book of Game-Changers: 50 Healthy Habits For Managing Stress & Anxiety.

Each body type has a particular name and, according to the principles of the Ayurvedic diet, following the general rules of your dosha should help make you healthy. “It’s a holistic approach to the best eating pattern for you,” Cording says.

Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Aniston, and Julia Roberts have all reportedly followed an Ayurvedic diet at some point. But what’s the deal with this diet and—more importantly—is it effective and safe to try? Here’s what you need to know.

The Ayurvedic diet leans heavily into the idea that everyone has a dominant dosha, or body type. Once you figure out your dominant dosha, you can adjust your eating plan to meet your health needs, Cording explains. You can determine your dosha by taking a quiz, like this one, and these quizzes are pretty easy to find online or in books about the Ayurvedic diet.

What you eat can help put your dosha into balance; eat the wrong stuff, and you’re not living up to your health potential.

Well, the Ayurvedic diet isn’t just about eating for your dosha—there are some basic principles to keep in mind that apply to everyone.

The diet stresses that there are six tastes—sweet, sour, salty, pungent, astringent, and bitter—and that each one can impact your physiology, or your body’s ability to function properly, Cording says. These are the other principles of the Ayurvedic diet that every dosha should follow:

There’s no one manual to the Ayurvedic diet, but there are a few books and people you can look into if you’re interested in learning more.

A few books to have on your radar:

The Ayurvedic Institute, which is considered the leading Ayurvedic school in the west, also regularly offers up tips on Instagram. Looking for ‘grammable recipes? Nutritionist Rahi Rajput has got you covered.

The Ayurvedic diet recommends honoring your body’s individual needs, and that can be a good thing. “Under the Ayurvedic diet, you shouldn’t feel like you have to do the same thing as everyone else. I really appreciate that,” Cording notes.

Being more mindful of how much you eat and how quickly you eat could also help with weight loss. And some research backs this up. A review in the International Journal of Obesityshowed that following Ayurvedic principles resulted in clinically significant weight loss compared to a placebo. Additionally, an Ayurvedic and yoga-based lifestyle modification program was shown to be an effective method of weight management, according to a study from the University of New Mexico and the University of Arizona. Still, it's hard to say exactly what aspect of the diet leads to weight loss.

As with any diet, the way you approach it matters. “You have to be mindful of going to extremes,” Cording says. Meaning: While it might be great for you eat to fresh veggies because you’re a Pitta, for example, only having these isn’t going to help you meet your nutritional needs.

Portion sizes also matter, Cording says, and eating too much of any food—even if it’s good for your dosha—can make you gain weight. It's also important to recognize that your dosha is based off a self-assessment or assessment of an Ayurvedic doctor—not medical testing. That means the reading might not be accurate, and many people feel they're a combination of multiple doshas.

Cording stresses the importance of paying attention to your body on this diet. “If you notice that you don’t feel well when you eat a particular way for your dosha, you should honor what feels good for your body and change your eating plan,” she says.

Overall, Cording recommends checking out the Ayurvedic diet—or some form of it—if you’re looking for a healthier way to approach eating. “It can be a useful tool,” she says.

The bottom line: Whether you subscribe to the concept of eating for your dosha or not, being more mindful of what foods you eat and how they impact your body and how you feel—and tweaking your diet based on that—is definitely a good thing. If the Ayurvedic diet helps you do that, that's a win.


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