Hearing the word "kapha" may leave you shaking your head in confusion, or twisting your face in bewilderment. Unless you are familiar with ancient practices from the Eastern world, or are a yogi, kapha may not mean much to you. With an open mind, however, this one word may balance your life, bring you peace and aid in weight loss.
The Origin of Kapha
Kapha stems from the ancient practice of Ayurveda, one of oldest healing sciences. Proponents of this holistic practice believe that it helps you live a longer, healthier, more balanced life by eating the right foods, drinking the right beverages and living the right lifestyle. The preventative goal of Ayurveda is purifying your mind, body and soul; it's specific target is your digestive system, as Ayurveda ascertains that diseases begin with improper digestion, explains John Douillard, DC, Ph.D., author of "The Yoga Body Diet."
Ayurveda believes everyone has a specific dosha, or source of energy. This healing science has three doshas: vata, pitta and kapha. Each has specific mental, emotional and physical characteristics, and although you have a combination of all, one dosha is more dominant than the rest. Kaphas, in balance, prefer routine rather than flying by the seat of their pants. They prefer heat to cold, and often complain of congestion. Methodical kaphas remain calm when chaos strikes. They are loyal to friends and loved ones, generous with their love and emotions. When out of balance because of poor nutrition and digestive problems, kaphas become withdrawn and lethargic. They are more prone to respiratory problems, such as allergies and asthma. Weight gain is a problem for all doshas when out of balance, but kaphas find it more difficult to lose. This is why there is no "one-size-fits-all" diet for each dosha.
Weight and Balance
Before you can begin the kapha diet, you must understand the connection between losing weight and being in balance. When a kapha eats the food that complements her dosha, her body begins to balance itself again. Douillard explains that being in balance allows your body to easily find its "happy place." This is the weight you can maintain with little effort; the weight that enables you to look and feel your best. Along with balance and weight loss, kaphas will also express the greatest aspects of their personalities.
To balance a kapha and induce weight loss, you must consume foods that are the opposite of your balanced personality. For example, kapha is cold by nature, preferring heat. Therefore, you need to eat foods that are light, dry and warm, explains the Chopra Center. In balance, a kapha is sweet and loving; to restore this balance and increase your metabolism, you need honey in your diet. Spices, such as hot peppers and turmeric, stoke your digestive fire and increase fat burning. Favor vegetables such as alfalfa sprouts, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, collard greens and baked potatoes. Consume all types of dried fruit, along with apples, lemons, pears and all berries. All spices are acceptable, but limit your meat to chicken and freshwater fish. Choose dairy carefully; soy and rice milk are healthy substitutions for regular milk, as is low-fat goat milk. Herbal tea such as chicory, cinnamon, ginger and strawberry leaf make nice after dinner cocktails. You can add raw honey or molasses for flavor if you like.
The kapha diet isn't as much about the amount you consume as it is when you consume it. Douillard recommends mindful eating. This entails the removal of distractions, such as television or cell phones. Sit quietly and eat quietly. You will gain greater satisfaction from your food and eat less of it. Eat three meals a day, no snacking. Your body will burn fat between meals and while you sleep. Douillard states that feeding your body every three hours doesn't give your digestive system time to break food down. Make lunch your biggest meal, and eat dinner by 5 p.m. A typical dinner includes soup or salad, fruit, sandwich and small dessert with herbal tea. Through the day, sip warm water. It keeps you hydrated and naturally detoxifies your digestive system.
- The Chopra Center; Qualities of Kapha; 2009
- University of Maryland Medical Center; Ayurveda; September 2009
- "The Yoga Body Diet";John Douillard, DC, PhD, et al.; 2010