HB: When vata dosha is out of balance, one would experience dryness and disturbances in mobility (stiffness, for example), leading to feelings of being ungrounded, and emotions such as anxiety or worry. Insomnia and constipation are classic signs of vata imbalance. As the only dosha with the quality of movement, vata is considered the body’s prime mover; it is the first dosha to go out of balance and is the great aggravator—if vata is out of balance it will push pitta and kapha out of balance.

Ayurveda recommends that all food be prepared and served warm, and that it be seasoned deliciously and served with plenty of healthy fats. Food enjoyed this way will, by its very nature, balance vata dosha—and when vata dosha is honored this way, the body will not experience disease.

Vata dosha prefers warm, soupy, creamy, easily digestible foods, and foods well-seasoned with healthy fats. Savory soups; roasted vegetables; and juicy, sweet fruits that are served warm balance vata dosha, as do the flavors sweet, salty and sour. Vata dosha must be respected year-round, but especially when temperatures fluctuate wildly in late winter and spring, or when the winds blow during autumn and winter.

Pitta dosha prefers food cool and easily digestible, and is balanced by the flavors sweet, bitter and astringent. We are most concerned with balancing pitta dosha in summer and autumn, when I recommend eating the abundance of ripe, garden-fresh vegetables, raw if desired. Otherwise, and in other seasons, raw foods tend to imbalance vata. As the old adage goes, enjoy all things in moderation.

Kapha dosha prefers food that is warm, light, easily digestible and perfectly moist (not too dry nor too soupy). Pungency adds heat to food, while bitter and astringent flavors help dry out heavy, wet textures. Salty and sweet foods, by their heavy, moist nature, tend to imbalance kapha. To balance kapha, eat tender spring greens and asparagus in spring; fresh peppers, dark leafy greens, and tomatoes in summer; and light, nourishing grains such as quinoa and amaranth in late summer and fall.

Listen to your body—it will tell you about the digestibility of your food. You should feel light, energized and well-nourished after eating.

DL: How can Ayurveda eating be inspiring for someone new to it?

HB: Food is medicine, and delicious food is delicious medicine. The complexity of flavors in India’s culinary traditions arises from incorporating all six tastes in every meal, in proportions that sustain health and longevity. Cultivate an appreciation for all six tastes, and learn about the foods you eat, where they come from, how they are grown and how to prepare food in your own home with love.