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Spring Cleanse Part 2: Adopting the Kapha Diet


By Krupa B - March 10, 2020

One of the biggest struggles many people face coming out of Vata season and into Kapha season is that we are at this point used to eating the foods that satisfy the Vata dosha. Foods like bananas, potatoes, root vegetables, grains and eggs balance out the lighter, dryer, more airy elements of Vata; however, since the Vata season goes directly into Kapha, it can be especially difficult to switch gears. The American diet is largely made up of Vata-pacifying foods that we like to consume all year long. Unfortunately, the human body has evolved to eat seasonally, if not regionally. An Ayurvedic diet understands this and reflects it. What makes us well in winter will not necessarily meet our needs in summer and vice versa.  At an earlier point in history, it may have been no problem to eat in alignment with your body’s constitutional needs throughout the year—But alas, in a world where the nearest grocery store has most types of produce all year long (and loads of processed foods in between), it can be hard to know where to start when it comes to actually eating for your body, for the season.
 
The Kapha season runs from roughly the second half of winter into the early part of spring, but what actually differentiates it from the other dosha seasons is more about atmosphere and less about calendar. This atmosphere is marked by qualities of dampness (melting snow, ice, rain), heaviness (barometric pressure swings), cooler temperatures and a general dullness (because winter).  Many people experience more frequent or extreme bouts of illness during this time as well. This can always, always, always point back to an imbalance in one or more doshas! But living out of equilibrium can also have greater consequences than merely the physical. Further signs of imbalance involve mood swings, brain fog, indigestion and anxiety.
 
A typical Kapha-pacifying diet will be very light, warm (cooked) and only slightly oil in nature. Taste-wise, it will maximize bitter, astringent, pungent and minimize sour, sweet, salty. This may look like (unsweetened) dried fruit, fresh water fish, leafy greens and spice—But of course, this will look slightly different from dosha to dosha. For instance, while all dosha-types will want to indulge in warm beverages as opposed to iced or chilled ones, a Pitta-type may want to still refuse an extra hot beverage in favor of a more room temperature one. Remember that especially during Kapha seasons, as during all seasons, you will want to eat your largest meal when the digestive fires burn brightest: In the middle of the day. Below, we further outline a Kapha-pacifying diet with a few dosha-specific pointers to keep in mind as you eat your way through the Kapha season. Bon appetit!

In general, you should indulge (especially if you are ill):
  • Basmati rice, quinoa, toast
  • Goat, skim or soy milk—Warmed with ginger and cardamom
  • Raw honey
  • Seeds like sunflower or pumpkin
  • Small amounts of sunflower oil and ghee
  • Fruits like apples, cherries, cranberries, grapefruit, raisins
  • Vegetables like artichoke, green beans, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, carrots, kale, leafy greens, onions, hot peppers, potatoes, spinach, turnips
  • Fresh fish, dark meat chicken, dark meat turkey
  • Red lentils, tofu, soy milk, split peas
  • All of the spice your heart desires
In general, you should avoid (especially if you are ill):
  • Oats, long and short grain rice
  • Butter, cheese, ice cream, kefir, yogurt
  • Maple syrup, molasses, white and brown sugar
  • Almonds, cashews, coconut, pecans, pistachio, peanuts, walnuts
  • Mayonnaise and olive oil
  • Fruits like avocado, bananas, berries, coconut, dates, figs, grapes, mango, melons, pineapple, oranges, peaches, pears, tangerines, watermelon
  • Vegetables like beets, cucumber, eggplant, okra, squash, sweet potatoes, zucchini
  • Meat! Duck, beef, lamb, pork, seafood
  • Chickpeas and black lentils
  • Soft drinks and juices
Notes for the Vata Type*

Many qualities of the Kapha season will be naturally soothing for you—Except for the diet. Unfortunately, the very foods that pacify Vata will also aggravate Kapha. With this in mind, you should mainly focus on pacifying Kapha and adjust in response to your environment. For instance, on a particularly dry and windy day, focus on more Vata foods and tastes in order to balance your dry and arid nature. To combat sluggish digestion, eat on a schedule and avoid skipping meals, as well as overeating.

For the Pitta Type*

While Kapha season is often a time to load up on warming foods like hot peppers and spice, you will want to remain mindful of how these may affect your fiery nature. Go ahead and increase the bitter and astringent tastes of this season with abandon, but stay away from spice and sour. Stimulants such as caffeine, hot chocolate and chai are also common seasonal trends that you, unfortunately, may want to avoid altogether.

For the Kapha Type*

You may stick to the typical Kapha-pacifying diet outlined above, but you should take extra precautions to avoid sweetness and cold during this time and load up on hot foods and spice instead. Salt should be avoided as it encourages water retention.

* Source: “Healthy Habits for Kapha Season” by Leo Carver at Chopra.com

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