How to Nourish Your Body: The Kapha Way
by Coen Van der Kroon
Kapha possesses the most stability and humidity of all the Doshas. Kapha is associated with the seasons when water and, often, cold are dominant, especially during winter and spring - the seasons of cold and dampness. There are also times of the day when Kapha is dominant, especially during the morning and evening hours. It may be important to adjust one’s lifestyle and habits to the Kapha seasons and times, in order to counteract the possible negative effects of too much Kapha.
Kapha can be supported in a positive way by choosing Kapha-related professions, hobbies, and activities. As this Dosha represents nourishment, caring, support, and so forth, it is important to give such qualities a place in the basic constitution, while ensuring that Kapha remains in balance.
General Guidelines for Kapha Types
A daily routine for a Kapha-type should be stimulating, vigorous, and sometimes even a little 'rough'. Kapha types are the most inert and they are difficult to get moving, both physically and mentally. For Kapha, there are clear restrictions in terms of diet and activities: dampness, eating too much and ‘being lazy’ should be avoided. In contrast, stimulation, exercise, and warmth are very important factors. Kapha types tend to get attached to things, eat and sleep a lot, and lose themselves in ‘couch-potato-ing’ and inaction. This tendency towards inertia can affect the metabolism and lead to excessively slow digestion.
Kapha types should do everything with more effort and exercise and eat warming and stimulating foods. In terms of exercise, active and competitive forms of movement are recommended; sweating is good for a Kapha type. An occasional massage with stimulating and heating oils can be good for Kapha types, mustard oil, in particular, is a good option. Dry and deeply stimulating massages with powders are often even a better alternative. Also, less sleep is recommended for a Kapha type.
Sometimes skipping breakfast is the best for Kapha
A Kapha type can skip breakfast and should otherwise consume moderate amounts of food, i.e. no snacks! Morning time is Kapha time and the body goes into Kapha gear, it starts to produce its own juiciness. So, if there is already plenty of Kapha in the system, it is best to not add anything in the Kapha time of the morning (7 - 11 am). Hence, no breakfast is sometimes the best breakfast for Kapha types, and occasionally, in case of Kapha complaints. Of course this is not an absolute law, you can also opt for a smaller, lighter, and dryer breakfast. Be smart about it! There’s no use in starving yourself if you psychologically suffer too much and you end up compensating by skipping your breakfast with an extra bar of chocolate.
Other Tips for a Good Anti-Kapha Diet
When eating an anti-Kapha or, in other words, a Kapha-balancing diet, it is important to keep the following guidelines in mind:
- Give preference to hot, light and spicy foods.
- Give preference to foods with the tastes of sharp, bitter, and astringent flavors, and reduce the tastes of sweet, salty, and sour flavors. From the sweet/neutral taste, use the lighter varieties, thus no cheese, cream, and meat, but rather dryer and lighter grains, vegetables, and beans.
- Reduce the consumption of dairy products, sweets, red meat, salt, and alcohol to the absolute minimum.
- Avoid the use of fats and oils, ensure the intake of some 'good and lighter fats', such as linseed oil, hemp oil, etc. This is important for regulating cholesterol.
- Drink a moderate amount of boiled water daily; boil the water with Agni-enhancing spices and herbs, e.g. ginger, for example.
- Make generous use of herbs and spices in food.
- Eat dry cereals or cereal products. Avoid fermented grain products such as bread.
- Dry roasting of food (e.g. grains and seeds) is a good way of preparing food for Kapha types.
- Avoid low-fat products, as they are overly processed and often contain a lot of sugar.
- Salads and raw vegetables - in moderation - are okay.
Coen van der Kroon was born in Utrecht, The Netherlands in 1962. He has an academic background in Greek and Latin Languages and Culture. His MA thesis was on ancient Greek gynecology with a comparison between Hippocratic and Ayurvedic Medicine. This was the start of his interest in and study of ayurveda.