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When hungry, trying to employ better judgment and willpower in the face of a plate of cookies, chocolates, or a quick slice of pizza is all too often an insurmountable task.
A new study from John Hopkins University revealed that when we haven’t eaten, junk food can be twice as distracting as healthy food. (1) With science like this, is there any hope for the junk food-junkies?
What if there was a healthy alternative that gave you the exact taste and satiety your body type is craving, instead of junk food?
According to Ayurveda, each body type will crave three basic tastes. The comfort foods we crave are typically based on a desire for one or more of the tastes that will deliver satiety to your specific body type.
In Ayurveda, there are three basic body types, vata (winter, governed by air), pitta (summer, governed by fire) and kapha (spring, governed by earth and water).
These three types will desire unique tastes or have specific cravings to make them feel satisfied from a meal. What we crave is, to some extent, predictable based on the tastes your body type is craving.
Follow these 6 simple steps to free yourself from your junk food cravings:
- Identify your body type. Take our Body Type Quiz now. (Taken it before? Things shift. Take it again!)
- Identify which dosha predominates (vata, pitta, or kapha).
- Determine the three primary tastes your predominant dosha will likely crave (see below).
- Match up your predominant dosha’s tastes with your favorite junk or comfort food.
- Replace the taste you are craving with a healthy version of that taste, and see if you can bypass the irresistible craving for your go-to comfort food.
- Have fun and experiment!
How to Best Use Our Body Type Quiz
As you will see, our Body Type Quiz will give you a mental, emotional, behavioral, fitness and physical body type, plus the tally of all five profiles for your total overall body type.
To get started, use the dosha that predominates in the overall body type score. If your cravings do not seem to jive with your body type taste, they may be coming from a mental or emotional place. In this case, look at the dosha that scores highest in the mental and/or emotional profiles—these may better relate to your cravings.
Vata types are governed by air (cold and dry, like winter) and the nervous system, so they crave tastes that will instantly calm them down, warm them up, and quickly change or satiate their brain chemistry.
Here are the tastes that vata types crave, and why:
- Sweet – delivers the quick brain chemistry shift.
- Sour – is warming and calms the mind.
- Salt – also warming and an energy driver.
Remember, vata types are light and governed by air, so they also crave heavy, higher-fat foods. As the vast majority of the body’s fuel supply goes to the brain, vata types are big-time cravers.
They will be attracted to sweets like pastries, chocolate, salty chips, sour candies, or sweet and sour drinks, like lemonade. They love sweet, but often love the combination of sweet and sour, or sweet and salty.
Healthy Cheat Foods for Vata Types
To satisfy a sweet craving: Dates, any ripe fruit like apple, grapes, or a peach.
To satisfy a sour craving: Lemonade with minimal honey as a sweetener, sparkling water with lemon or lime, plain yogurt with berries (both tend to be sour). Old-fashioned naturally-fermented pickles can also satisfy a vata craving for comfort foods on the spot as they are somewhat sweet and sour. A small slice of cheese with an apple delivers both the sweet and sour, and quickly settles a vata mind.
To satisfy a salty craving: Salty kale chips, raw hard cheeses are wrapped in salt, sea salted nuts or seeds.
Pitta types are governed by fire (hot like summer) and are competitive and driven. They crave things that will cool them down. When they run out of gas and have not eaten, they become ravenous and must eat NOW. Therefore, they crave primarily sweet, which delivers brain satiety the quickest.
Here are the tastes that pitta types crave, and why:
- Sweet – cooling and instant satiety.
- Bitter – not a classic junk food taste, but cooling. Think leafy greens, kale salad or dark chocolate.
- Astringent – also not a classic comfort food taste, but again, cooling. Think cucumbers, pickles, pomegranates, and small amounts of most fermented foods.
Pitta types crave cold sweet things like pop or soda with lots of ice. Sweet is a cooling taste, so anything sweet will work. They generally have an iron-clad digestive system, so when they get started on a bag of cookies or chips, they cannot stop. While salt is not their first craving, once the salt hits the brain, they can binge on just about anything. The key for them is to not even let themselves get started. The commercial jingle, “bet ya can’t eat just one,” is the perfect portrayal for pitta types.
Chocolate, coffee, and tea are all bitter and astringent, making these go-to comfort foods for pitta.
Healthy Cheat Foods for Pitta Types
To satisfy a sweet craving: Similar to vata, ripe fruits are the best or cool (not overly iced) fruity drinks. Coconut is both sweet and cooling, so coconut water can put out the pitta craving for comfort foods. Coconut oil and ghee are both great for cooling down a pitta type.
To satisfy a bitter and astringent craving: Try having the tea or coffee without any sweetener, or a chocolate bar with as little sugar as possible. Good quality, 100% dark chocolate can be very tasty and will feed the bitter taste craving that pitta has. It does take time to acquire a taste for 100% dark chocolate, but it’s worthwhile—you are training the brain to find stimulation without always stimulating the sweet taste. Kale chips are also a great alternative to highly processed potato chips.
Kapha types are governed by earth and water. They tend to hold onto water, like we see the earth do in the spring. They are generally big boned, sturdy types who are generally calm, chill, and easy-going. They will crave foods to spice them up, increase metabolism, and get motivated.
Here are the tastes that kapha types crave, and why:
- Pungent – spicy, hot.
- Astringent – beans that are astringent and are loaded with fiber to help cleanse the intestines.
- Bitter – leafy greens to boost alkalinity to cleanse and move lymph and water.
As kapha types are governed by heavy earth and water, they will crave lighter foods like chips, even though they are salty. They generally like pungent or spicy foods, which help to stimulate circulation and lymph drainage in the body. Kapha types, when out of balance, can become lethargic and, thus, will initially crave pungent and spicy foods for energy, but soon may move to more aggressive stimulation from coffee, tea, and chocolate, which are also bitter and astringent. Over time, when the body is not able to deliver the amount of energy needed, any body type can crave and binge on the almighty sweet taste.
Healthy Cheat Foods for Kapha Types
To satisfy a pungent craving: Ginger tea with raw honey is the perfect alternative for kapha types. Raw honey is naturally kapha-reducing, but also sweet, to satisfy the craving in a healthy way. Even nibbling on a ginger root throughout the day can keep a kapha type satiated all day. Mild peppers can do the trick as well.
To satisfy a bitter and astringent craving: Look to herbal teas and/or coffee, tea, or dark chocolate. The higher the cocoa content, the less sugar, and more bitter the taste. Kapha types are generally OK with caffeine, as it can help kapha types balance the tendency to slow metabolically and energetically. Hummus dip with carrot and celery sticks can help offset a kapha craving.
Please have fun and experiment with this! If these work for you, share your experience in the comments section below!
- Douillard J. The 3Season Diet, Three Rivers Press. 2000, New York