I’ve been experimenting with Ayurveda for a few weeks now as far as my diet is concerned. We are working on some new Ayurvedic products at my job and I’m doing a lot of the research for our formulator, which I am thoroughly enjoying. The more reading I do, the more I’ve realized that to a certain degree it makes sense that the Engine 2 diet would work as a food plan for me. Engine 2 in many ways is a Kapha-pacifying diet. People with a Kapha constitution are naturally slow, stable, tend to gain weight easily and are more “cold and damp”—all qualities of Earth and Water. Anything that amplifies this cold, slow, damp sludginess is going to increase Kapha, which will through Kapha types more out of whack. The things Engine 2 eliminates are classically the things I should avoid as someone with a more Kapha constitution or a Kapha imbalance (which happens when you are overweight):
- no meat, no dairy—all plants
- no oils, reduce or eliminate avocado and olives
- limited nuts and seeds, raw or dry roasted only. If you have trouble losing weight, eliminate them completely
- avoid coconut-based products because of the fat content (in Ayurveda, they are very cooling and heavy, which is a bad scene for Kapha dosha)
- the recipes are for a lot of lightly cooked foods and some of them are quite spicy (which is good for pacifying Kapha)
- include bitter greens like kale as much as possible, LOTS of veggies
- does not recommend smoothies or juices because they spike your insulin and don’t fill you up
- not many sweets except for cooked fruit dishes
- eat actual food– no processed crap, eat when hungry until you are full
- limit tofu and tempeh, limit fake meats
- the meal plan itself is for 3 meals, but if you want snacks they are all dry for the most part: baked tortilla chips, rice cakes, fruit like apples and berries.
- no coffee, which I of course totally ignore. I wish I had a copy of the E2 right now so I could remember why, but I’m sure it’s for the obvious slanderous reasons: raises blood pressure, can stimulate or reduce appetite too much for some people, stresses the adrenals, causes cravings for dairy and sugar for some people, dehydrating, addictive, etc. Kapha is the only dosha who can handle coffee, but it is not recommended in most Ayurvedic texts. Whatevs, I’m drinking coffee RIGHT NOW.
I have developed this salad aversion in the last year, which makes me laugh because I used to live on salad, yogurt, iced coffee, diet soda, Amstel light beer and fruit when I lived in Florida (all of which are awful for someone who has a Kapha imbalance and is a predominantly Kapha constitution to begin with). My acupuncture physician used to yell at me about it! I do love the places where Ayurveda and TCM overlap, but that is a story for many separate posts.
Engine 2 could definitely be easily modified for all three doshas . Just some slight tweaks might make a big difference in how someone feels on the plan and how successful they are at getting back into a healthy balance for their body. None of this is medical advice, obviously. I am not a doctor and I don’t even freaking play one on TV! I actually discussed my vegan/E2 eating plan with my endocrinologist, and he is very happy with it and extremely supportive. I get regular bloodwork done, and I would suggest that to anyone who wants to be their own best health advocate.
- totally eliminate seeds and nuts. If you want to eat one or the other, go for seeds in very limited quantities.
- emphasize rigorous physical exercise, like Ashtanga (yeah!), hiking, running, cross-training, boot camp: you know the drill. Ironically, all of the Biggest Loser workouts are perfect for Kapha doshas or people with a Kapha imbalance. For Pitta and Vatas, they would be a nightmare. The Pittas are the ones on Biggest Loser who are always competitive and fighting and angry, and the Vatas are the ones having meltdowns every five minutes and always talking to the camera. The Kaphas are looking half asleep, depressed and trying to hide/mother everyone, but have the best endurance and can lift heavy things.
- no sweets except for fruits. I feel your pain.
- ditch the cold food completely, except in really hot weather.
- try non-fat soy milk instead of almond or rice, unless you are hypothyroid like me. Unsweetened almond milk works well for us Hashimoto/hypo types. Poor thyroid challenged Kaphas!
- stay away from soy or almond yogurt
- stick to the more Kapha-pacifying, astringent fruits: apples, pears, berries. Avoid melons, tropical fruit and citrus.
- three meals a day is great for Kapha. Don’t snack continuously—it sludges up the works for us Kapha types.
- hot teas and hot water with lemon between meals helps Kapha.
- do not give in to the urge to eat tofu and tempeh like they are going out of style (ooooh I hate this part!). Lean toward tempeh or steamed edamame, but other cooked beans are better for Kaphas.
- avoid or eliminate wheat (hate this part too). Ezekiel bread or non-wheat breads or no bread at all would be a better choice.
- avoid the vinegar-based E2 salad dressings: way too sour for Pitta. Stick to creamier nut or seed based dressings in moderation
- Pittas can eat more nuts and seeds than Kapha dosha (lucky bitches!) due to their increased digestive “fire”, but don’t get too crazy
- Pitta needs sweetness to balance out hotness and sourness, so eat sweet fruits and avoid the sour ones like grapefruit or any unripe fruits
- avocado is A-OK for Pitta dosha
- stay away from hot spices, like cayenne, black pepper, chili peppers. Avoid spicy Mexican food like the plague
- eat regular meals and snacks to stay calm, cool and balanced
- chill out on the hot beverages
- avoid too many tomato based sauces in the E2 recipes–that will definitely irritate Pitta.
- do cooling exercises, like swimming. Winter sports are awesome for Pitta. Ski and snowboard away, Pittas. Bikram yoga is possibly the worst thing ever for Pittas. You will want to die and stab someone all at the same time. Avoid at all costs!
For Vata types:
- out of all three doshas, Vatas need the most fat. Make sure to eat adequate amounts of nuts, seeds avocados.
- Vata is also a cool dosha like Kapha, but it is cool as well as dry. Try to take it easy on salads or even eliminate completely, as they are hard to digest for Vatas. Stick to lightly cooked or warm foods. “Creamy” soups (use those cashews!) are great for Vatas.
- Vata dosha types make the WORST raw foodists ever—it aggravates Vata severely.
- Avoid sprouts, cabbage and any veggies that causes gas attacks. Vatas are gassy by nature in the first place, as they are the “air” dominant dosha. Most beans will make Vata really gassy, so they get the green light on tofu and mung dahl which should be easier for you to digest. If Vata doshas want to eat beans (which they will, as this is a vegan plan!), soak them for a minimum of eight hours and cook them thoroughly with kombu or sorrel to help reduce gas.
- Sweet foods in moderation are helpful for reducing Vata. Cooked fruit and grain desserts make Vatas happy!
- “Milks” pacify Vatas, so be happy with all of the nut, seed and grain milks. Try not to drink them ice cold. Warm, decaf rooibos chais with some agave or brown rice syrup would be excellent for Vatas.
- Vatas need the most soothing exercise regimen of all of the doshas. Vatas are excellent dancers and natural yogis, but should avoid anything too strenuous or over-stimulating. Tai Chi is great for Vatas.
My friends who have had challenges with Engine 2 are all either Pitta-dominant or Vata-dominiant as far as their constitutions, but still have weight to lose. My Pitta-dominant friend has instinctively started including some more cooling foods. She’s *obsessed* with vegetable juices, especially the really cooling ones, and has been eating more salads. She naturally started reducing her coffee (which way aggravates Pitta dosha) and when she drinks it she usually has it iced with almond milk and agave. She is figuring out how to make it work for her without even knowing about Ayurvedic principles!
Since I’ve been on a diet or had an active eating disorder for most of my freaking adult life, I am hardwired to eat “diet” foods, some of which are downright awful for Kaphas or anyone with an active Pitta subtype. Instinctively, I have developed this salad aversion in the last year. This makes me laugh because I used to live on salad, cold tofu, yogurt, iced coffee, diet soda, amstel light beer and tropical fruit when I lived in Florida (all of which are awful for someone who has is a predominantly Kapha constitution with a Pitta subtype). My acupuncture physician used to yell at me about it! I do love the places where Ayurveda and TCM overlap, but that is a story for many separate posts.