The Ayurvedic diet: a question of type

Ayurvedische Ernährung: Auf den eigenen Typ kommt es an

Following the right diet is a big part of Ayurvedic medicine. To be precise: the foods you eat should correspond to your particular constitutional type.

What is the Ayurvedic diet?

The Indian healing art of Ayurveda is based on the assumption that the balance of the three energy principles (doshas) of vata, pitta and kapha is fundamental to our health. The Ayurvedic diet promotes this balance by carefully selecting appropriate foods. The diet follows the philosophy that every food provides energy and can be specifically employed to harmonise our doshas and boost our well-being. The principles of the Ayurvedic eating plan therefore emphasise not only the selection of certain foods, but also their effect on body and mind.

Principles and benefits of the Ayurvedic diet

The principles of the Ayurvedic diet are based on a deep understanding of the Ayurvedic teachings, which aim to harmonise doshas through specially selected foods. But more on this later.

The aim of a healthy Ayurvedic diet is to promote the balance of both our physical and mental condition and help prevent health problems. The principles of this form of nutrition emphasise the importance of a diet tailored to the individual type, which not only prevents disease but also improves general well-being. Studies confirm that a properly implemented Ayurvedic diet offers numerous health benefits.

The six rasas

The Ayurvedic tradition attaches great importance to the six tastes, also known as “rasas”. These are:

  1. sweet
  2. sour
  3. salty
  4. bitter
  5. pungent
  6. astringent

Each rasa plays a special role in the Ayurvedic nutritional teachings and helps to balance the doshas. An even mixture of the “six tastes of Ayurveda” not only ensures variety and enjoyment for the palate, but also balanced health. Particularly in the case of diseases such as high blood pressure, a diet that specifically reduces pitta or kapha energies can alleviate symptoms. In this way, a change in diet tailored to your individual dosha offers an effective way of combating any discomfort after eating and intolerances to certain foods.

Dosha types in the Ayurvedic diet

Each person's personal physical constitution influences the composition of the ideal diet for their health and well-being. By personalising the diet for each dosha type – also known as the “vata-pitta-kapha diet”– the idea is to maintain or restore the body’s inner balance thanks to a specific selection of foods. The renowned Swiss Ayurvedic practitioner Hans Heinrich Rhyner recommends the following:


Vata types need a warm, nutritious and lubricating diet to maintain their balance. Recommendations include three warm meals a day to avoid irregularities. Cold, bitter and light food can destabilise vata. The vata-pacifying diet includes foods that nourish and soothe the system, which is especially important for people with vata dominance.


Pitta types benefit from a cooling, bitter and sweet diet that helps to balance their inner heat. Salty, sour and pungent foods should be avoided, as should stimulants such as alcohol and coffee. A balanced pitta diet promotes inner calm and prevents inflammation.


A light and stimulating diet adds swing to the metabolism and reduces the feeling of heaviness and is ideal for kapha types. Pungent, bitter and warming foods should be given priority, and heavy meals late at night and snacking between meals should be avoided. A kapha diet supports an active lifestyle and helps with weight loss by stimulating the flow of energy and preventing stagnation.

Ayurveda for health problems

Ayurveda offers specific dietary recommendations to alleviate various health problems. An anti-inflammatory diet can help with conditions such as osteoarthritis and neurodermatitis by focusing on nutrient-rich and mild foods. Special diet plans for acne are designed to avoid trigger foods and promote skin health. For hyperacidity and irritable bowel syndrome, Ayurveda improves the body's balance through easily digestible meals that soothe and strengthen the digestive system. These personalised diets help to correct the underlying dosha imbalances and provide effective treatment for the symptoms.

Special eating plans and recipes

Regardless of your dosha type, the German Medical Society for Ayurvedic Medicine (DÄGAM) recommends the following dietary principles:

  • Eat only when hungry: Wait until you have fully digested your last meal, i.e. about three to four hours after your main meal.
  • Eat in a calm setting: Eat in a quiet and relaxed atmosphere without distracting yourself with reading, working or watching TV.
  • Lunch as the main meal: Make lunch the most important meal of the day.
  • Regular eating times: Always eat around the same time of day.
  • Cook from fresh: Cook your meals from fresh. Avoid reheated or stale food.
  • Prioritise cooked food: Most of what you eat should be cooked, as cooked food is easier to digest. Raw food should only be eaten as a side dish.
  • Use of spices: Spices make food tasty and aid digestion.
  • Gradual changes: Only change your eating habits cautiously and trust your desires and needs.

Dietary counselling and daily plans

In an Ayurveda dietary counselling session, individual daily plans are drawn up based on your dosha constitution. The counsellor will start by identifying your dosha type, after which they will discuss your current eating habits with you before making recommendations for changes. For example, a daily plan for a pitta type could include avoiding pungent and spicy foods and prioritising cooling meals such as cucumber salad or coriander chutney. The counsellor will also provide tips on the best times to eat to optimise the body’s natural digestive powers.

Ayurvedic recipes and cooking tips

Ayurvedic recipes often use “sattvic” – unprocessed and natural – foods that promote purity and clarity and are considered particularly healing. Sattvic foods such as fresh fruit, vegetables and whole grains are said to help calm and cleanse the mind as well as the body. A simple Ayurvedic recipe can consist of a soothing rice dish with ghee, turmeric and cumin, for example. Meals like this support the balance of the doshas and promote mental clarity and physical well-being. Other recipe ideas:

Kitchari (Ayurvedic healing dish)

  • Ingredients: basmati rice, mung beans, ghee, cumin, turmeric, ginger, coriander, fennel seeds, salt.
  • Method: Cook the rice and mung beans together, fry the spices in ghee and add to the rice and bean mixture.

Ayurvedic vegetable curry

  • Ingredients: various seasonal vegetables, coconut milk, turmeric, mustard seeds, cumin, fresh coriander.
  • Method: Chop vegetables, roast mustard seeds in ghee, add remaining spices and vegetables, simmer with coconut milk.

Mung dal soup

  • Ingredients: mung dal (peeled mung beans), ghee, asafoetida, cumin, turmeric, ginger, lemon juice.
  • Method: Wash and boil the mung dal, fry the spices in ghee and add to the dal, flavour with lemon juice.

Ayurvedic breakfast porridge

  • Ingredients: oats, fresh or dried fruit, cinnamon, cardamom, almond milk.
  • Method: Cook oats in almond milk, add fruit and spices and serve warm.


  • Ingredients: yoghurt, water, cumin, salt or cane sugar (depending on whether you want a savoury or sweet lassi).
  • Method: Blend all the ingredients in a mixer and serve cooled.

Ayurvedic foods according to dosha type

The Ayurvedic food table lists foods that, depending on your dosha, are either to be prioritised or avoided.

Foods to prioritise
Foods to avoid
Warm, oily, sweet foods such as cooked vegetables, ripe fruit, nuts, dairy products
Cold, dry, bitter foods such as raw vegetables, dried fruit, carbonated drinks
Cool, sweet, bitter foods such as cucumbers, sweet fruit, green leafy vegetables
Pungent, sour, salty foods such as chilli, sauerkraut, salty snacks
Light, dry, warm foods such as pulses, apples, honey
Heavy, oily, sweet foods such as cheese, nuts, sweets

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