Do you have wide hips/shoulders and thick glossy hair, but your friend is small, wiry and has dry hair? According to Ayurvedic medicine, you shouldn't be following the same diet.
By eating the foods right for your body type and temperament, you could achieve greater health and happiness. No foods are off limits, but different body types should reduce their consumption of certain foods.
Ayurveda, meaning 'science' or 'knowledge of life', is an ancient medical system of India, based around meditation, energy and nature. It is a holistic science that believes in the unity of mind, body and soul - meaning if one area is ill, others can be affected. For example, stress can trigger an ulcer or hair loss. Ayurveda addresses the root of the problem, rather than just the symptoms.
Every person has a unique body type or dosha, which are one of either Vata, Pitta or Kapha. What dosha most represents your body, depends on many factors, such as weight, height, emotional stress and personality. Discovering what dosha you are and eating the right foods to keep a healthy balance will result in a healthy, happy life.
Body type: Vata
Characteristics - slender, difficulty gaining weight, little muscle tone, tends to be cold, dry hair and skin
Foods to eat - warm nourishing foods (e.g. soup, stews), cooked oats and cereals, nuts, cooked vegetables, ghee (clarified butter)
Foods to avoid - cold or frozen foods, dry foods (e.g. crackers, cereal), raw fruits and vegetables
Lifestyle and exercise - Vata individuals are energetic and prone to anxiety. Establish a daily routine of waking, eating and sleeping at roughly the same time each day. Be aware of overexerting yourself through your daily activities - rather than speed sports or aerobics, opt for yoga, dancing, swimming or walking.
Body type: Pitta
Characteristics - medium build, maintain weight easily, good muscle tone, tends to be warm, fine and thin hair, reddish complexion, strong digestion
Foods to eat - cooling fruits and vegetables with high water content (e.g. melons, cucumbers, kale, lettuce), crackers, oat cakes, white cheeses, hummus
Foods to avoid - hot spices, alcohol, coffee, vinegar, acidic foods (e.g. citrus, tomatoes, yoghurt, vinegar), yellow cheeses
Lifestyle and exercise - Try to stay cool, both physically and mentally. Don't sit in the sun for too long, don't over-exercise and allow your body to cool down before going for a warm shower. Outdoor and water activities are great for you, as are cooling exercises like yoga and tai chi.
Body type: Kapha
Characteristics - curvy, heavier frame, strong muscles with a little extra body fat, good skin, hair and nails, slow metabolism, happy natured
Foods to eat - garlic, spices, legumes, high fibre vegetables, white meat (e.g. chicken, turkey), fish, tofu, soya products, spiced tea
Foods to avoid - oils/fats, sweet, salty and sour foods, refined sugar, alcohol, dairy, fizzy drinks
Lifestyle and exercise - Try to walk whenever you can, and opt for aerobic sports - ou have the strength to do lots of cardio. Spend as much time as you can outdoors. Avoid napping, wake up early and throw yourself into a fun and busy day.
All body types can benefit from Ayurvedic superfoods (such as ghee, almonds, raw honey and dates), eating seasonally and eating the largest meal at midday.
Find out your body type and see if an Ayurvedic diet can improve your wellbeing.