Jasmine Hemsley's new cookbook East by West uses ancient Ayurvedic practices to help you create delicious meals to suit your own unique mind-body type, a.k.a. Dosha.
What is Ayurveda and how does it relate to me?
Ayurveda is the oldest healing system in the world – 5,000 years old to be exact. It reinforces the idea that our health, well-being and happiness all comes from a life in balance. And the secret to maintaining this balance, lies in the strength of your digestive fire or Agni.
Your digestive fire lies in your stomach and is responsible for breaking down your meal and converting it into nourishing energy for your body. Therefore, your digestive fire, or Agni, is critical in your overall health - physically, emotionally and mentally.
So, what are Doshas?
We are each made up of a unique blend of three Doshas – Vata, Pitta and Kapha – usually with one (or two) stronger or dominant Doshas. Doshas create and govern many layers of our body, from the physical to the psychological. Vata is a mixture of Space and Air; Pitta is a mixture of Fire and Water and Kapha is a mixture of Water and Earth. Whatever we eat, do and think affects our Doshas and can put them out of balance.
As Jasmine says, ‘I like to think of the Doshas as three little cups. As life’s experiences come in, depending on how efficiently they are dealt with, the cups can start to fill up, or occasionally go down. We start to feel ‘out of sorts’, and it’s at this point that we can rebalance our cups. Like increases like, so in removing the excess of each cup on a regular basis we can manage our health. Ayurveda helps to support you, so eat a good meal, have a good night’s rest, then refocus on the task of getting back to balance.’
So by understanding your Dosha type, you'll understand how to keep your digestive fire or Agni strong by eating the right food and making the right lifestyle choices.
Don’t know your dominant Dosha? Take the test and find out.
Advice for Vata Dosha types
You should eat more ‘building foods’ such as warming spices, heavy meats, legumes and grains, calming fats, sweet fruits and root veg, hot milk to keep you grounded. Cut down on coffee and raw, leafy greens and enjoy hot water and herbal teas to keep warm and hydrated and use ginger and fennel to help fire up your wavering digestion.
Advice for Pitta Dosha types
A strong digestion means you can enjoy more fresh raw veg, salads and sweet juicy fruits. Drink plenty of water. Try to avoid spicy, sour, salty food, such as chips and salsa as well as coffee, red meat, deep-fried food and tomato dishes which can be over stimulating and too overheating and aggravating for you.
Advice for Kapha Dosha types
Lightly steamed or cooked veggies are best for those with a dominant Kapha Dosha. So are stimulating herbs and spices, bitter greens, airy legumes and fruit and vegetables such as apples, broccoli which are ‘lightening’ for the body. Eat fewer dairy products and avoid sweet foods all of which are too heavy.