top of page
follow your taste buds

image by at pexels



eat right


Today we will use selected elements of the ancient Indian healing system of Ayurveda to help you reconnect with your heart. Ayurvedic medicine originated in India more than 5,000 years ago, and is considered by many scholars to be the oldest healing science. 


In Sanskrit ayurveda means ‘science of life.’ Now, many people might consider ayurveda not to be a true science because it uses simple lifestyle practices such as massage, diet, and herbs to prevent and treat illness. It doesn’t look like a science because its practitioners don’t wear lab coats, use fancy equipment, or prescribe expensive drugs. But the more I learn about ayurveda the more I’m impressed by the depth of its knowledge of the human being. Even more impressive is the simplicity and clarity in which this knowledge is conveyed. Science is defined as the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the world through observation and experiment. And this is exactly what we are going to do over the next three days but with the element of fun added. 


To get you started here is a quick quiz. In under 30 seconds see if you can answer the following six questions about a cup of raw broccoli.


Part One

  1. How much vitamin A: 560 or 960 IU

  2. How much magnesium: 19 or 91 mg

  3. How many calories: 31 or 3 kJ


Part Two

  1. Is broccoli bitter or sweet?

  2. Is it dry or oily?

  3. Is it hard or soft?


The correct answer for all the questions is the first choice, so for example, broccoli contains 560 IU and not 960 IU of vitamin A. Was part one or two of the quiz easier for you? My guess is the first part was more challenging because it required abstract measurements that you would only know if you looked them up. The second part was probably easier because you used your senses.


Today we are going to throw out abstractions such as calorie count and vitamin content, and instead we are going to take a more heart centered approach. pay attention to the sensual qualities of food like taste and texture. 


The Doshas

According to Ayurvedic philosophy every person is made of five basic elements found in the universe: ether, air, fire, water, and earth. These combine in the human body to form three life energies, called doshas: Vata is made up of ether and air, Pitta of fire and water, and Kapha of water and earth. Everyone inherits a unique mix of the three doshas with one being stronger than the others. 


Vata has a light, airy, dry quality to it. They tend to be slim with slightly dry skins. They are usually talkative, creative and flexible, but when out of balance they become easily confused and overwhelmed. Emotionally they are challenged by cool emotions such as worry, fear, and anxiety.


Those with a pitta nature tend to be hot and fiery. They are usually muscular with oily, ruddy and warm skins. Pitta people are focused, competitive, and courageous. They can however become overly intense. Emotionally they are challenged by the heated emotions of anger, resentment and jealousy.


Kapha is a predominance of the water and earth elements. Those with a kapha nature tend to have large, stocky frames and are prone to gaining weight. They are stable, cool and relaxed. Kapha types love comfort but too much can lead to a lack of motivation and feeling of becoming stuck. They are challenged by the heavy emotions of depression and lethargy.

dosha quiz


Take the quiz below and select A, B or C. If you are mostly ‘A’ you are Vata, if you are mostly ‘B’ you are Pitta, and if you are mostly ‘C’ you are Kapha.

dosha quiz


Take the quiz below and select A, B or C. If you are mostly ‘A’ you are Vata, if you are mostly ‘B’ you are Pitta, and if you are mostly ‘C’ you are Kapha.

vata dosha

A balanced vata person is alert, enthusiastic, and creative, with a slim body and a slightly cool and dry skin. When out of balance he or she might suffer from anxiety, restlessness, fatigue, constipation, insomnia, headaches, or excess dryness. Vata is cool, dry, rough, and light, so it’s balanced by foods that are warm, moist, smooth, and grounding.


warm over cool

Favor foods that warming, both energetically and in temperature. Also use warm herbs such as turmeric, cumin, nutmeg, ginger, and cinnamon. Minimize cool or frozen foods, large amounts of raw fruits and vegetables, and even leftovers that have been kept in the fridge. 


moist over dry

Moist foods like berries, melons, squash, and yogurt help to offset vata’s dry quality, as do hydrating preparations such as soups and stews. Oily foods like avocado, olives, butter, cheese, eggs, whole milk, wheat, nuts, and seeds are generally supportive as well. Do your best to minimize exceptionally drying foods like popcorn, crackers, beans, and dried fruits. 


grounding over light

Eat foods that are solid and grounding. These foods will naturally taste sweet: cooked grains, spiced milk, root vegetables, stewed fruits, nuts, and seeds. Minimize highly processed foods, pastries, and stimulants such as coffee because they tend to undermine vata’s need for grounded stability.


smooth over rough

Fibrous fruits and vegetables are sometimes called roughage because their high their fiber content gives them a rough quality. Minimize raw fruits and vegetables, as well as rough foods like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, dark leafy greens, and beans. When you eat these foods cook them well and serve them with generous amounts of butter, oil, cream, or warming spices. Conversely, eat foods that are smooth in texture, things like bananas, rice pudding, hot cereal, hot spiced milk, root vegetables, or puréed soups.



The sweet taste is the foundation of a vata-pacifying diet. Naturally sweet foods tend to be grounding, nourishing, strength-building, and satisfying. Emphasizing the sweet taste does NOT mean sugary foods and desserts. They will exacerbate vata’s tendency to over-exert and then crash. Naturally sweet foods include fruits, grains, root vegetables, milk, yogurt, eggs, nuts, seeds, oils, and meats.



The sour taste awakens the mind and the senses, improves digestion, and promotes energy. The sour taste is generally not the centerpiece of a meal; instead, it tends to compliment and enliven other flavors. a squeeze of lemon or lime juice, a splash of vinegar, a side of kimchi or sauerkraut, a bowl of miso, a slice of cheese, or a dollop of sour cream. Sour fruits like green grapes, oranges, pineapple, and grapefruit are also appropriate when eaten separate from other foods and in moderation. 



Salt stimulates the appetite and digestion, helps retain moisture, supports proper elimination, and improves the flavor of many foods. Salt is usually added to most dishes so simply being mindful of including savory flavors and ensuring that your food has some salt in it will likely be sufficient. Use a quality sea or rock salt rather than common table salt.



Limit pungent foods such as chilies, radishes, turnips, raw onions, and hot spices, bitter foods such as bitter greens, artichokes, burdock root, eggplant, and dark chocolate, astringent foods like beans, apples, cranberries, pomegranates, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, and crackers

By nature, pitta is oily, sharp, hot, light, spreading, and liquid, so to neutralize these qualities eat foods that are dry, mild, cooling, grounding, stabilizing, and dense.


cool over warm

Eat foods that are energetically cooling or cool in temperature. Most spices are warming so be careful to choose cooling ones such as parsley, mint, fresh basil, black pepper, cardamom, and turmeric.


Raw foods tend to be naturally cooling, and pitta tends to be able to handle them better than the other doshas; so mixing in an assortment of raw fruits and vegetables will generally be supportive, especially in the warmer months. On the other hand, it is best to minimize your exposure to fiery hot dishes, foods with a sharply warming energetic, alcohol, and caffeine; all of these influences will naturally increase internal heat.


grounding over light


Contrast pitta’s lightness and heat with foods that offer solid, stabilizing sources of energy and adequate nourishment. Generally, these foods will naturally taste sweet. Most grains, milk, root vegetables, seeds, and cooling oils are good examples. But excess pitta can cause a sharp and sometimes insatiable appetite, so it’s equally important not to overeat. Highly processed foods such as canned foods, ready-made meals, and pastries are excessively heavy, and should be minimized as much as possible.


Dry and dense over oily or liquid


Pitta’s tendency toward excess oil make drying or astringent foods like beans, potatoes, oats, pasta, popcorn, and most vegetables very supportive. When cooking, use a moderate amount of a high quality oil or ghee. Minimize especially heating oily foods like eggs (egg whites are better), hard cheeses, olives, nuts, sour cream, and the like. If given a choice between a soupy, liquidy meal and one that is denser and drier, opt for the latter. For example, have baked tofu served over steamed greens and rice, rather than tofu miso soup.


Mild over Sharp


Sharp flavors like pineapple, pickles, vinegar, and sharp aged cheeses are better replaced with milder, gentler tastes, like those found in apples, cucumbers, lime juice, and soft cheeses. Similarly, stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine, and hard alcohol are too sharp and penetrating for pitta. Do your best to substitute more stable and sustaining sources of energy.




Favor naturally sweet foods like sweet fruits, most grains, squashes, root vegetables, milk, and yogurt. The sweet taste is cooling and heavy but also anti-inflammatory. It pacifies heat, satisfies thirst, benefits the skin and hair, and tends to be grounding, nourishing, strength building, and satisfying. Emphasizing the sweet taste does NOT require us to eat large amounts of refined sugar or sugary sweet foods; naturally sweet foods are best.



The bitter taste predominates bitter greens—like kale, dandelion greens, and collard greens. It is also found in bitter melon, Jerusalem artichokes, dark chocolate and pitta pacifying spices like cumin, neem leaves, saffron, and turmeric.



The astringent taste is basically a flavor of dryness—a chalky taste that dries the mouth and may cause it to contract. Legumes are classically astringent in taste. Apples, cranberries, pomegranate, artichokes, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, popcorn, rice cakes, crackers, basil, coriander, dill, fennel, parsley, and turmeric are also astringent in taste.



Reduce pungent foods such as a chilies, radishes, turnips, raw onions, and many especially hot, spicy dishes, sour foods like vinegar and other fermented foods, hard cheeses, sour cream, green grapes, pineapple, grapefruit, and alcohol. Limit salty foods.

By nature, kapha is heavy, cool, oily, and smooth, so eat light, warm, dry, and rough foods to help to balance excess kapha. 


light over dense and heavy

The heaviness of kapha can be reduced by foods that are light in weight and low in density. Fruits and vegetables are usually light, so a diet built around an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables is a great start. Kapha is also balanced by salads and other raw vegetables. Green or black teas are quite light, especially when compared with coffee. 


Foods that are a bit heavy for kapha include hard cheeses, puddings, nuts, cakes, pies, wheat, most flours, breads, pastas, red meat, and deep fried foods. Very heavy meals and highly processed foods also tend to aggravate the heavy quality in kapha and are best reduced or eliminated.


warm over cool


The warm quality can be emphasized by eating foods that are warm in temperature or that have a warming energetic—and by using heating spices generously (most spices are naturally heating, and almost all of them balance kapha). Cooked foods tend to offer a warmer energetic and are typically easier to digest; so cooked food is preferable to raw—especially in the colder months. Kapha does best to drink room temperature, warm, or hot beverages and often benefits from sipping hot water throughout the day as well. If you like that, you can also try sipping warm water with a dab of raw honey in it; honey is both heating and detoxifying. On the other hand, it is best to reduce or minimize foods with a cooling energetic, cold and frozen foods or drinks, carbonated drinks, and even leftovers that have been kept in the refrigerator or freezer. The cold quality is inherently increased in these foods, so freshly cooked is best. Consuming large quantities of raw fruits and vegetables can also be quite cooling, so it is best to enjoy these foods in moderation and when seasonally appropriate (i.e. primarily in the warmer months). But again, you have to be realistic about what you can take on, and a green salad or leftover mung dal is generally going to be far more kapha-pacifying than a freshly-cooked but heavier meal eaten out.


dry over moist and oily


Kapha’s oiliness is offset by drying foods like beans, dried fruits, rice cakes, popcorn, and an occasional glass of dry red or white wine. When cooking, it is important to use as little oil as possible. You can even play with substituting water for oil to prevent sticking. Do your best to minimize oily foods like avocado, coconut, olives, buttermilk, cheese, fried eggs, cow’s milk, wheat, nuts, and seeds. It is also important not to over-hydrate because kapha can and does retain water easily. So do your best to drink only the amount of fluid that your body requires, according to your climate and activity level. In addition, reduce your consumption of especially moist foods like melons, summer squash, zucchini, and yogurt, as these can also be too watery for kapha.


rough over smooth


Fruits and vegetables are sometimes called roughage because their fibrous structure gives them a very rough quality. Kapha responds well to eating large quantities of fresh fruits and vegetables. That said, these foods are often much easier to digest when cooked, so be careful not to overdo raw foods, and adapt your enjoyment of them according to the season (see our Seasonal Guides for further support). Some foods, like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, dark leafy greens, and many beans, are exceptionally rough and are therefore wonderful for countering kapha’s smooth, oily nature. Conversely, eating foods and preparations that are smooth in texture—things like bananas, rice pudding, hot cereal, milk, cheese, and the like—can quickly aggravate kapha.




Pungent is a spicy, hot flavor like that found in chilies, radishes, turnips, raw onions, and most spices. In fact, most spices are tremendously kapha pacifying.


The pungent taste is light, hot, rough, and dry—all beneficial for kapha. In essence, if you like spicy or fiery hot, go for it. And even if you don’t, favor a wide variety of milder spices in your dishes—things like cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, cumin, ginger, garlic, paprika, and turmeric.

The pungent taste cleanses the mouth and clarifies the senses. It stimulates digestion, liquefies secretions, clears the channels of the body, encourages sweating, and thins the blood.



The bitter taste predominates bitter greens (like kale, dandelion greens, collard greens, etc.), and is also found in bitter melon, Jerusalem artichokes, burdock root, eggplant, dark chocolate, and in kapha-pacifying spices like cumin, neem leaves, saffron, and turmeric.

The bitter taste is rough, drying, light, and generally reducing—all qualities that benefit kapha, but it is also cooling, so it’s important to add some warming spices to bitter foods.

Bitters cleanse the pallet and improve the sense of taste. They tone the skin and muscles, improve appetite, support digestion, and help to absorb moisture, lymph, muscle fat, adipose tissue, and sweat.



The astringent taste is basically a flavor of dryness—a chalky taste that dries the mouth and may cause it to contract (picture biting into a very green banana).

Legumes like adzuki beans, black-eyed peas, chickpeas, kidney beans, lentils, pinto beans, and soybeans are classically astringent in taste and very kapha-pacifying. Some fruits, vegetables, grains, baked goods, and spices are also astringent in taste—things like apples, cranberries, pomegranate, artichokes, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, popcorn, rice cakes, crackers, basil, coriander, dill, fennel, parsley, and turmeric.

The astringent taste is dry, rough, somewhat light, and it reduces kapha. But like the bitter taste, it is also cold, so it’s best to add warming herbs and spices to astringent foods. In some cases (as with pomegranate), simply enjoying these foods in the warmer seasons makes a lot of sense.

Kapha benefits from the compressing, absorbing, nature of the astringent taste, which also helps to tone bodily tissues and utilize excess fluid.




Reduce sweet foods, especially refined sugar and sugary sweet foods as much as possible. Minimize sour foods as the moistening and oily qualities of the sour taste aggravate kapha. An occasional squeeze of lemon juice is the best way for kapha to ingest the sour taste. Eat fewer salty foods.

eat according to your shape
hydrating drink recipes
must-read books nutrition
restful sleep
hydrate your body
the f#ck it diet
bottom of page