Ayurvedic Diet

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Introduction to an Ayurvedic Diet

Written by John Immel, Asheville, NC
Ayurveda offers you simple, practical ways manage your health. It can help you understand your body and how to prevent or minimize disease. Ayurveda helps you experience food, understand its effects on your body, and naturally crave and choose the foods that are right for you. It has a very sophisticated knowledge of the effects of food which we've organized in this website. The practice of Ayurveda began in ancient India over 5,000 years ago.

Need Help Figuring it All Out?

Nature's Healing Qualities: The Gunas

The gunas are the twenty most important reactions your body has to food. The gunas are also the different kinds of experiences you have being alive. The best way to get started in Ayurveda is by knowing the gunas. The first eight gunas are heavy and light, sharp and dull, hot and cold, oily and dry. For example bread makes you feel heavy but salads feel light. Black pepper is sharp on your tongue but cheese is dull. Chilies heat up your body but cucumbers cool your body down. Butter is oily but popcorn is drying. On Joyful Belly we've selected only those gunas that are most useful in cooking.

The Six Tastes

In Ayurveda, nutrition is based on the six tastes (western nutrition identifies only four tastes). Each taste affects your body in a unique way that can make you feel better, or worse, depending upon the person. Bitter is light and drying. Astringent is tightening and drying. Pungent is sharp and dry. Salty taste is liquefying and hot. Sour is hot, liquefying, and heavy. Sweet taste is heavy, gooey, and cold. Every season has a different taste and diet.

The Three Body Types (Doshas)

Ayurveda groups people into three general body types called Dosha. The three doshas are Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Your body types describes three basic metabolic patterns of how you use energy. Vata spends energy. Pitta manages it. Kapha stores it. Dosha predicts the symptoms and diseases you are vulnerable to, and gives you a means to restore balance. Vata tends to suffer from deficiency. Pitta from heat disorders. And Kapha tends to suffer from stagnancy and conditions of excess.


Good circulation, good digestion and well nourished tissue are three cornerstones of good health. By the magic of digestion, when you eat an apple it becomes a part of your body. Whether the apple is hot or cold, acidic or basic, sugary or bitter, the body still has to transform the qualities of the apple into the qualities of a human being. Digestion takes work. Some signs of indigestion include gas, burping, acid reflux, diarrhea and constipation.

About the Author

John Immel, the founder of Joyful Belly, teaches people how to have a healthy diet and lifestyle with Ayurveda. His approach to Ayurveda exudes a certain ease, which many find enjoyable and insightful. His online course Balance Your Ayurvedic Diet in a Week provides tools for gracefully healing with Ayurveda to thousands. John also directs Joyful Belly's School of Ayurveda , which specializes in digestive tract pathology & Ayurvedic nutrition. John and his wife Natalie recently published Explore Your Hunger: A Guide to Hunger, Appetite & Food.

John's interest in Ayurveda and digestive tract pathology was inspired by a complex digestive disorder acquired from years of international travel, including his public service work in South Asia. John's commitment to the detailed study of digestive disorders reflects his zeal to get down to the roots of the problem. His hope and belief in the capacity of each & every client to improve their quality of life is nothing short of a personal passion. John's creativity in the kitchen and delight in cooking for others comes from his family oriented upbringing. In addition to his certification in Ayurveda, John holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Harvard University.

John enjoys sharing Ayurveda within the context of his Catholic roots, and finds Ayurveda gives him an opportunity to participate in the healing mission of the Church. Jesus expressed God's love by feeding and healing the sick. That kindness is the fundamental ministry of Ayurveda as well.

What is Ayurveda?
How to Listen to Your Body and Find Hidden Symptoms
How to Make Good Food Choices
Eat Intuitively the Ayurvedic Way: Exploring the Gunas
The Six Tastes
The Five Elements of Ayurveda
The Three Doshas
The Heart of Preventative Medicine
Meal Times
Food Types in Ayurveda
Digestion in Ayurveda
Pooping and Regular Elimination
Natural Weight Loss with Ayurveda
Emotional Health & Ayurveda
Eating for the Season
Help with Joyful Belly
Press Releases
Start Your Career in Ayurveda
10 month online program starts Oct 10th
Starts Oct 2017

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In 1992 my Ayurvedic counselor in Troy, MI told me I was Pitta. Can time and illness change the dosha?

- Paula Smitz, Glendale, AZ, 06-25-11 (Reply)
Generally, time and illness change the imbalanced dosha but not a person's constitution. Best, -John
- John Immel, Asheville, NC, 01-17-12 (Reply)
I am a Vata and looking to prevent weight loss. I lose weight easily. Which foods have the most calories? Thanks.
- Elma, Yuma, AZ, 03-06-12 (Reply)
Dear Elma, You can search on 'ojas' building foods to find the foods with the most calories. Best, -John
- John Immel, Asheville, NC, 03-12-12 (Reply)
Hi John. I log onto Joyful Belly at least once a week for ideas and info. Thanks for all you provide! Best, Jen
- jen, Marietta, GA, 08-13-13 (Reply)
Hi John, I just received digestive bitters and weight away, can I take the weight away and sip on the digestive bitters at the same time? Debbie
- Debbie mortimer, Stamford, CT, 07-02-14 (Reply)
Hello. I wonder if I can order the personal diet book for Kapha. I'm an overweight vata looking for a comprehensive program. What do you recommend? I already have your weight loss recording in my library and really appreciate all it offers. Pattie Texas
- mary hollenstein, Bonham, TX, 09-26-14 (Reply)
I have had 3 surgeries in the past 10 months. I really need to lose some weight, but I wonder if this is the right time? I also have RA, one kidney, and a rather complex medical history. However, I am essentially healthy and strong and feeling better each day. THe last surgery was on Sept. 23, and I signed up for the next workshop beginning Oct. 6. Diana Mrotek, Westport, CT 10-01-14
- dianamrotek@gmail.com, Westport, CT, 10-01-14 (Reply)
I am a vata, thin and dry and my Pitta/Kaffa are the same (2 each). Vata is supposed to have sweet, but my central nervous system cannot handle sugar/caffene/alcohol. How do you recommend I begin this process?
- Jane, Gloucester, MA, 10-02-14 (Reply)
Jane, because of your in depth medical history, it is very difficult to make any specific recommendations through comments. We recommend signing up for a consultation. You can do that here: http://www.joyfulbelly.com/Ayurveda/consultation
- Natalie Immel, Asheville, NC, 10-02-14 (Reply)
I'm so excited to have found this article. I'm so intrigued and can't wait to learn mire!!!! I'm on the road to recovery!!
- Dorothy, ID, 01-13-15 (Reply)
Dear sir, my lips became big due to chewing them thats why i look bad. There is no pain in lips. Yesterday doctor told me that use aloe vera gel. So what is the process and how much time it will take? And which ayurvedic cream i have to purchase for early reduction of my lips. please help me. Thanks in advance for solutions.
- shridhar mali, 02-21-15 (Reply)
Hi, Today I started the 3 day cleanse and detox recommended in my body book. I made the Kapha pacifying Kitchari according to the recipe. I don't want to hurt any feelings but I can't eat it with all those spices. The beans and rice and salt I could handle, but I'm not used to spicy food. I just can't eat it like that. If I made it plainer with just salt and maybe a little of one spice would it still work? If so, which spice and how much.
- Angela Duck, Lincoln, AL, 04-24-15 (Reply)
why do some foods agravate vata, like literally WHY. For example peanuts make me feel grounded, but it says they agravate vata, and i am a vata, why do peanuts agravate vata? And what does it have to do with digestion?
- Sandu, 02-29-16 (Reply)
Peanuts generally aggravate Vata because they are a legume and legumes are often challenging for Vata individuals to digest. That being said, every body is different. The foods that are said to aggravate each dosha are similar in quality to the dosha. For example, Vata is dry and legumes are dry in nature - hence legumes often aggravate Vata.
- Kimberly Kubicke, Wall, NJ, 03-02-16 (Reply)
Hello JohnI am very new to Ayuverda, discovered it after listening to Deepa Chopra. I have used your tools and discovered I could be Kapha. I therefore changed my diet accordingly and feel extraordinary.My daughter is 9. She has been diagonised with ADHD. We notice quite a change with certain foods and I would like to slowly adapte her diet to suit her dosha. I find it difficult to measure a childs dosha and different online tools are giving me different results. Is there a way to add her onto my online account in your system?Would you recommend doing a dosha inquiry for a child?Thank you for your advice.Catherine
- Catherine Ng'ang'a, 04-09-16 (Reply)
You could certainly create an account for your daughter or use the questions from your quizzes to support better understanding of her.
- Kimberly Kubicke, Wall, NJ, 04-14-16 (Reply)
Angela, try cutting the spice amounts in half. You could also just simply use the cumin and cilantro and skip the rest.
- Kimberly Kubicke, Wall, NJ, 07-21-16 (Reply)

What is Joyful Belly?

Browse recipes and hundreds of other ingredients on this extensive educational website. Joyful Belly helps people confidently choose food that restores their healthy glow, using the ancient technique of Ayurveda. Our extensive collection of online recipes, ingredients, and articles makes health easy. To get started, take the free dosha quiz to find your Ayurvedic body type.

What is Ayurveda?

Learn about Ayurveda from the author of this article and founder of Joyful Belly,
John Immel.

* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information and products on this website are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
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