What we eat affects our moods. In Ayurveda, foods are categorized by taste. There are 6 tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent. Each taste is primarily made up of 2 of the five elements (ether, air, fire, water, earth).
Our bodies are also made up of the five elements. Because we are unique in our individual design, the qualities of the 5 elements vary between us creating our “dosha”. Some of us carry primarily the ether and air quality, known as the Vata Dosha, others are primarily fire and water (Pitta Dosha), and others are primarily water and earth (Kapha Dosha).
Because each taste is a combination of elements, the taste of food creates different reactions or effects in the body. When I refer to “body” I refer to all aspects of the body…physical, mental, and emotional.
An example, if you are a Pitta, you are fire and water. You tend to run hot. This refers not only to your body temperature, but your temper. If you’re feeling irritable and short tempered, you may want to look at your diet and eat more cooling foods. Choosing foods with sweet (pears, coconut and coconut milk), bitter (kale, dandelion greens, and collard greens ), and astringent (potatoes, corn) tastes will assist in balancing your current mood and calming the hot temper.
You should stay away from hot dishes and foods with a sharply warming influence like alcohol and caffeine.
Let’s say you’re a Vata (ether and air). You are feeling nervousness, anxiety, overwhelmed. You need grounding and feeling of safety. Your body is calling for sweet (bananas, avocados, mangoes, apricots), sour (lemon, cheese), and salty (salt, celery) to bring you back to earth.
Eat fewer dry or light fruits such as apples, cranberries, pears, and pomegranates.
If you’re experiencing a Kapha imbalance, you may find yourself depressed, possibly overly sentimental. This imbalance calls for foods with the quality of ether and air consisting of pungent (garlic, ginger), bitter (leafy greens, turmeric, basil), and astringent (apples, broccoli, cauliflower, unripe bananas) tastes.
Kaphas out of balance should reduce the intake of dairy and sweeteners. Honey is one sweetener that can best pacify Kapha. Other sweeteners, however, should be avoided because they increase the Kapha dosha, contributing to problems such as blocked sinuses, allergies, colds, and lethargy.
Consuming all tastes is vital to maintaining good health….physical, mental, and emotional. Because you are Pitta, does not mean that you completely remove sour, salty, and bitter flavors, or if you are Vata that you should remove, pungent, bitter or astringent tastes, or if you are Kapha that you should remove sweet, sour, and salty tastes. It means that you need to understand what tastes you need to increase and/or decrease if you find yourself out of balance.
I encourage you to learn more about your unique dosha and associated imbalances. This is the beginning to taking control of your health (physical, mental, and emotional) and keeping you balanced and bring you back when necessary.