What Are The Kapha Characteristics?
In Ayurvedic medicine the Kapha Dosha is the energy that governs movement and communication in your body. When we think of the Kapha Dosha its characteristics are stable, grounded and strong. It is associated with the earth and water elements making it heavy, slow, cool, oily, smooth, dense and soft.
Kapha Physical Attributes
Kapha types have broad, curvy frames; they are physically strong with oily skin. They tend to be slow and unhurried with a calmness around them and a warm, welcoming nature. While they are good sleepers and are able to sleep for long periods of time they have a moderate appetite and their digestion is often slow.
When the Kapha Dosha is unbalanced it’s easy for them to become lazy, slow and lethargic. They may find themselves sleeping in late or sleeping during the day. They will indulge in foods that attribute to this lethargic state and find that they are putting on weight or retaining water. Imbalanced Kapha types will also feel sluggish, with no motivation to do anything which can eventually lead to depression and mood disorders.
Kapha Food And Diet
Food and diet is one of the principle ways to bring the Doshas back into balance; there are a whole host of foods that compliment and balance the Kapha Dosha which we will explore below.
Remember you can find out which is your most dominant Dosha by taking a simple test online or by visiting an Ayurvedic practitioner. You can also learn more about each Dosha in ‘The Introduction to Ayurveda’ article.
What Foods Should Kapha Types Eat?
Due to the dense, heavy nature of Kapha types and their slower digestion, Kapha types will benefit from lighter, warmer foods. It’s important to make sure they don’t overeat and are mindful of their eating habits; making sure to connect with each bite and stop eating when they feel full. They will benefit from eating small, controlled meals throughout the day and only eating when they are hungry.
The following foods are great for Kapha types:
- Vegetables like asparagus, beetroot, cabbage, cauliflower, radish, fennel, garlic, ginger, kale, leeks, lettuce, mustard, onions, peas, spinach and turnips.
- Fruits like apples, apricots, cherries, cranberries, lemon, lime, peaches, pear, pomegranate, raisins and strawberries.
- Grains like barley, buckwheat, dry oats, millet, polenta, quinoa and rye.
- Legumes like black beans, broad beans, chickpeas, lima beans, mung beans, puy lentils, red lentils and white beans
- Meat and fish like chicken, prawn, turkey and venison
Kapha types can also benefit from a variety of herbs and spices and as these are friendly on their digestive system they should be used in abundance! Opt for foods with bitter, astringent and pungent tastes and avoid foods that are sweet, sour and salty.
What Foods Should Kapha Types Avoid?
Kapha types are prone to overeating when they’re unbalanced; when they’re feeling emotional or stressed they’re likely to reach for indulgent foods like sweets or fried food. Because of the cold, moist and oily nature of Kapha they should minimise foods that are dense, heavy and wet.
The following foods aggravate kapha types:
- Vegetables like courgette, cucumbers, parsnips, pumpkin, tomatoes, swede, sweet potatoes, white potatoes and certain squashes.
- Fruits like avocado, banana, coconut, grapefruit, grapes, kiwi, mango, melon, oranges, papaya, pineapple, plums and watermelon.
- Grains like pasta, spelt, wheat, white flour and breads containing yeast
- Legumes like black lentils, kidney beans, soybeans and soy products.
- Meats and fish like beef, duck, lamb, pork, salmon, seafood and tuna.
Bear in mind sweet flavours unbalance Kapha types and can cause lethargy and weight gain as well create excess mucus which can lead to colds. Raw honey, used sparingly, is the only exception to this. Learn more about the many uses of honey.
When Is The Best Time For A Kapha Dosha To Eat?
In Ayurveda it’s not only the foods that you eat that are important but how and when you eat them; both the time of day and the changing seasons are governed by the Dohsas which should be reflected in your eating habits. Kapha energy starts to increase in the winter and is aggravated in the Spring; think of it as that stored Kapha energy melting and turning to liquid as the weather gets warmer and it is this excess liquid that will cause any imbalances. If you begin to feel this imbalance ensure your diet is rich with many Kapha pacifying foods as listed above.
The Ayurvedic Clock
You should also think about the times during the day when you eat; imagine the day is split into six times and each of these times is dominated twice by a Dosha. Kapha dominates the periods from 6am to 10am and then again from 6pm to 10pm. For Kapha types these are the best times to eat both a light breakfast and a light dinner with the biggest meal of the day being consumed around midday, when the digestive fire is at its strongest.
What Else Affects A Kapha Types Diet?
There are many other Ayurvedic rituals and techniques that Kapha types should follow in order to feel healthy and happy. Due to their slower digestive fire they should consider occasionally fasting; they can also afford to ‘skip’ breakfast, having a herbal tea instead and having a nutritious lunch and dinner later on during the day. Before undertaking any fasts consult with a healthcare professional first and stop if you start to feel unwell.
Sleep & Time Outdoors
As Kapha qualities are cold and wet, minimise drinking water during meals and make sure the majority of food eaten is light and warm. Another way to balance out these cold and wet qualities is by spending time in nature, especially when the sun is shining which can help ‘dry out’ any excess liquid Kapha types are known for.
Although Kapha types love to sleep and could easily spend the day napping, avoid going to sleep immediately after eating; this will only make you feel heavy and sluggish upon waking, instead follow the Ayurvedic clock and focus on getting eight hours a night instead.
A Kapha Types Diet – Final Thoughts
As always in Ayurvedic medicine health and wellbeing is tailored to the individual and their specific needs. This is by no means a comprehensive guide to the Kapha Dosha and I would urge anyone who is interested in either Ayurveda or their dosha to reach out to an Ayurvedic practitioner who will be able to help them find a unique plan that works for them.
Your journey to a healthy mind and body should be a joyous one of exploration and discovery so take the time to connect with your body and nourish it with good, nutritious foods.