Any diet program that promises to improve health through better eating habits and weight control is worth a careful reading; especially when the ideas have circulated for a few millennia! Take a moment to consider the Ayurvedic tradition. It is based on a collection of medicinal remedies found in the sacred Hindu Atharva Veda hymns dating back to the Vedic period in India several thousand years ago. The tradition proposes that health can be achieved through proper diet and the balance of three bodily humors: breath (or wind), gall, and phlegm. These humors correspond to three human “mind/body” types or dosha characterized as Kapha (water/earth), Vata (air/wind), and Pitta (fire). We are a composite of all three in one physical “package”. Aside from the description of “earth, wind, and fire”, doesn’t this sound like a conventional description of body weight that is proportional to your height and physical shape?
The capacity of a single dosha to dominate your personality/being (that is, to maintain your height-weight proportionality) is affected by age, season, and activity. Is it possible this strange description of humors and body type is more conventional than it sounds? Is it also possible these ancient but noteworthy teachings can help you gain mastery over your weight, your lifestyle AND your sense of well-being and self-worth? There must be some reason these dietary rules have been practiced by so many people for thousands of years!
The belief that you can improve your health through regulation of lifestyle and diet is common to most holistic traditions. Ayurvedic tradition stresses that your sense of wellness is an interaction between your dominant dosha or body type and your environment. The teachings offer dietary rules describing seasonal changes in diet that can help you “regulate” (control) your dosha (dominant body type). For example, Vata, the Sanskrit word for movement, is the air humor. When seasonal winds start to blow and outside temperatures begin to drop in anticipation of the winter season, for example, your internal humors and dosha will change too.
The transition period from summer (Pitta, fire) to the Vata season, that is, from September to November, is called Sharad Ritu. It is a time of growing cold and dryness. Changes in diet can soothe or aggravate dosha imbalances and their effects on health. Thus, they can help you maintain a height-weight proportional shape; also known as weight control!
According to Ayurveda, a beneficial Sharad Ritu diet consists of light foods that are sweet, sour, or salty yet slightly bitter. Consider this as a good weight-loss/maintenance diet. Avoid especially pungent or astringent tastes like parsley, saffron, or turmeric. Chicken, turkey, rabbit, and fresh-water fish are healthy choices along with rice, wheat and cooked oats.
Warm, moist foods like stew or soup are particularly soothing during the fall season. Consider using “heating” spices like cinnamon or ginger in both your food dishes and drinks. Consider sweet, sour, and juicy fruits like banana, cherry, melon, and plums. Porridge or instant oatmeal is an excellent choice for the first meal of the day. Alternatively, avoid dry cereal for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch, and cold, dry snack foods during the day.
Warm ginger tea is a beverage of choice during the day; warm milk with ginger or honey is perfect before retiring at night. Thus, food that cools Pitta fire and calms Vata movement is most beneficial in promoting a greater sense of wellness, self-control, and health. Reading again past the strange-sounding description of humors, consider these dietary recommendations and Ayurvedic teachings the next time you step on a scale to weigh yourself.
What’s your dosha?
Fran’s House of Ayurveda