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By Nadia Marshall
When people first get into Ayurveda, they inevitably become a little obsessed with their body type or constitution... mainly because it is so much fun! But what starts out as fun can soon turn into utter confusion as we try to navigate endless food charts and work out what we should or shouldn’t eat for our constitution!
For example....what is someone supposed to do it they are Vata/Pitta and under Vata their allowed to eat something while under Pitta they’re not? What do they then do if they’re preparing a meal for the whole family and everyone in the family has a different constitution? Ayurvedic food charts are enough to make even the most enthusiastic newbie toss in the towel!
So how do you make eating for your body-type a little easier? At the Mudita Institute we teach a tridoshic approach to eating - that is, one that is suitable for all constitutions. It might not be as appealing at first, but it is certainly a more sustainable (and easy) approach in the long run.
But the approach we teach isn’t just tridoshic, it is actually designed to work on a few other important Ayurvedic aspects that are often overlooked by books who focus soley on constitution or body type....
We teach you to eat meals that directly support more balanced digestion (AGNI), promote a calm, peaceful mind (SATTVA) and nourish the essence of your immune system (OJAS).
But how do we make our digestion more balanced? This is where qualities come in. The qualities of Balanced Agni are WARM, LIGHT and SLIGHTLY OILY. By introducing these same qualities into our food and drinks, and less of their opposing qualities, we can directly influence our digestion.
As part of this approach we are avoiding foods that are too COLD/cooling (i.e. iced drinks, icecream, too much raw food), foods that are too HOT/stimulating (i.e. fermented foods, chilli, coffee, chocolate, alcohol) and foods that are too HEAVY (i.e. deep fried foods).
But how is this approach also tridoshic? Well, lets have a closer look...
VATA (Air/Ether) people are drawn out of balanced by foods/drinks that are too COLD, DRY, ROUGH and too LIGHT. By eating foods and drinks that are WARM, SLIGHTLY OILY and with the right balance of LIGHT/HEAVY, Vata’s will be kept in balance.
PITTA people are drawn out of balance by eating foods/drinks that are too HOT and OILY. By eating foods/drinks that are WARM (not hot) and only SLIGHTLY OILY, Pittas will be kept in balance.
KAPHA people are drawn out of balance by eating foods/drinks that are too COLD, HEAVY and DENSE/STODGY. By eating foods and drinks that are predominantly WARM and LIGHT, Kaphas will also be kept in balance. Kapha people
So, in this way, the AGNI approach to eating is also tridoshic!
It is also good to keep in mind that a tridoshic way of eating involves a balance of all of the six tastes - sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter and astringent. Within reason, it is good to get a balance of each taste in every meal. Naturally certain meals will have a predominance of one or more tastes but if the other five are also present, the meal will be more balanced. A great way to achieve this is through the use of spices.
Another great way to make your meals even more appropriate for the whole family is through the use of condiments. For example, if you make a kicharee for dinner, you can serve it up with a warming mango chutney and a cooling coriander and coconut sambal. The Vata and Kapha members of the family can go for the chutney while the Pitta members of the family can favour the sambal. This way you don’t have to make different dinners for everyone.... just have different condiments on hand to make the meal even more balancing and even more delicious!
Agni - the digestive fire.
Ama or Aama - undigested food waste, toxins.
Ojas- the foundation of our immune system and longevity.
Dhatus - the tissues of the body.
Srotas - the channels of the body.
Vata - the air/ether
intelligence in the body.
Pitta- the fire/water
intelligence in the body.
Kapha- the water/earth intelligence in the body.
Sattva- the quality of purity, intelligence, peace and love.
Rajas- the quality of
turbulence and activity.
Tamas- the quality of
dullness, darkness and inertia.
Rasa - the taste of a food (Sweet, Sour, Salty, Pungent, Bitter, Astringent)
Virya - second level of digestion (either Heating or Cooling)
Vipaka - third level of digestion, the deep taste of a food (can be Sweet, Sour or Pungent)
Prabhav - the 'special effect' of a food or herb/spice
Rasa - also the name for plasma tissue
Rakta - blood tissue
Mamsa - muscle tissue
Meda - fat tissue
Asthi - bone tissue
Majja - nerve & bone marrow tissue
Shukra - sexual reproductive tissue