Kapha Dosha Diet [10 Ayurvedic Tips for Balance]
Balancing kapha dosha begins by balancing what’s on your plate! These are the best approaches in Ayurveda to creating and maintaining a kapha balancing …
Let's talk about how we can use diet to balance
elevated kapha dosha.
I'm going to tell you what a kapha-pacifying
diet is, how it creates balance, and give
you ten tips for how to incorporate it into
Plus, there's a bonus at the end– meal ideas
for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Let's dig in!
Kapha is balanced by a diet of freshly cooked,
whole foods that are light, dry, warming,
well-spiced, and relatively easy to digest—ideally
served warm or hot.
These foods calm kapha by balancing mucous
production, regulating moisture levels, maintaining
adequate heat, and by supporting proper digestion
Because kapha is so substantive in nature,
an appropriate diet is actually one of the
most effective ways to reel it in.
Kapha thrives on a fairly minimalistic diet
with smaller meals, little to no snacking,
fewer sweets, an abundance of fresh fruits
and vegetables, a variety of legumes, minimal
alcohol, and lighter fare all around.
That said, finding a diet that is appropriately
satisfying is crucial to your success; so
it’s extremely important that you enjoy
the foods that you do eat.
The following tips will explain some specific
principles about a kapha-pacifying diet and
we hope they will empower you in discovering
what will work best for you.
Pay Attention to Overarching Patterns
Before we go any further, please understand
that following a kapha-pacifying diet is a
practice far more than it is a collection
No one expects you to wake up tomorrow morning
and eat a perfectly kapha-pacifying diet for
the rest of your life!
Even the most recognized Ayurvedic teachers
have the occasional difference of opinion,
which can create some discrepancies between
different Ayurvedic diet and recipe resources.
The point being, successfully following a
kapha-pacifying diet is not a matter of sticking
to a strict set of dos and don’ts, or getting
overly bogged down in the details.
In fact, it is often far more helpful to pay
attention to the overarching patterns and
At the end of the day, any strides that you
take to shift your diet toward being more
kapha-pacifying than it currently is should
be considered wins…
which brings us to our next tip:
Make Small Adjustments
Think of the transition process as an intention
that you are holding, and also a powerful
invitation to increase your self-awareness.
We recommend that you begin by noticing where
you might be able to make small, incremental
changes in support of your healing journey—at
a sustainable pace.
From there, notice the ways in which these
small shifts are supporting you, and where
perhaps some of your current habits are costing
If you enjoy a food that is kapha-aggravating,
notice how you feel when you do eat it, perhaps
keeping track in a food journal.
Does it increase the symptoms of excess kapha
in your digestive tract (heaviness, sluggish
digestion, lethargy, brain fog, or stools
that feel sticky or incomplete)?
Is there anything that you can do to serve
this food in a more kapha-pacifying manner—by
reducing the quantity, serving it warm, or
adding digestive spices (like ginger, black
pepper, cumin, coriander, and turmeric)?
And if so, do these adjustments change your
Use your developing awareness to continue
to inspire one small step forward at a time,
keeping tabs on how your health and well-being
As you continue to work with your Ayurvedic
diet and lifestyle recommendations, it is
likely that your digestive strength will improve,
which will eventually support your capacity
to digest more challenging foods.
The last tips offer ideas on how to approach
this, so now I’d like to introduce the qualities
that you’ll want to favor in your diet,
and by contrast, the qualities that will tend
to be inherently kapha-aggravating.
By nature, kapha is heavy, cool, oily, and
smooth, so eating foods that neutralize these
qualities—foods that are light, warm, dry,
and rough—can help to balance excess kapha.
The following tips offer a closer look at
how you can begin to recognize the qualities
of different foods.
The intention is to give you a more intuitive
grasp of what will reduce kapha, without having
to constantly reference lengthy lists of foods
to favor and avoid.
Favor Light and Airy Over Dense or Heavy
Foods that embody the light quality are the
antithesis to kapha’s heaviness.
Lightness can be determined both by the sheer
weight of a food and also by its density.
Fruits and vegetables are typically wonderfully
light, so a diet that is built around a tremendous
abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables—preferably
cooked—is a great start.
A modest amount of raw fruit may be suitable,
and, in moderation, kapha is also balanced
by salads and other raw vegetables when seasonally
appropriate (usually in the warmer spring
and summer months).
Green or black teas are quite light, especially
when compared with coffee.
In general, foods that are a bit heavy for
kapha include hard cheeses, puddings, nuts,
cakes, pies, wheat, most flours, breads, pastas,
red meat, and deep fried foods, which are
also excessively oily.
Eating too much in one sitting also leads
to excess heaviness, so it’s important to
try not to overeat.
A good rule of thumb is to fill the stomach
one-third full of food, one-third full of
liquid, and to leave one-third empty for optimal
Very heavy meals and highly processed foods
also tend to aggravate the heavy quality in
kapha and are best reduced or eliminated.
Favor Warm Over Cool or Cold
The warm quality can be emphasized by eating
foods that are warm in temperature or that
have a warming energetic—and by using heating
spices generously (most spices are naturally
heating, and almost all of them balance kapha;
see a full list of kapha-balancing spices
in the link below).
Cooked foods tend to offer a warmer energetic
and are typically easier to digest;
so cooked food is preferable to raw—especially
in the colder months.
Kapha does best to drink room temperature,
warm, or hot beverages and often benefits
from sipping on hot water throughout the day
If you like that, you can also try sipping
on warm water with a dab of raw honey in it;
honey is both heating and detoxifying.
On the other hand, it is best to reduce or
minimize foods with a cooling energetic, cold
and frozen foods or drinks, carbonated drinks,
and even leftovers that have been kept in
the refrigerator or freezer.
The cold quality is inherently increased in
these foods, so freshly cooked is best.
Consuming large quantities of raw fruits and
vegetables can also be quite cooling, so it
is best to enjoy these foods in moderation
and when seasonally appropriate (i.e. primarily
in the warmer months).
But again, you have to be realistic about
what you can take on, and a green salad or
leftover mung dal is generally going to be
far more kapha-pacifying than a freshly-cooked
but heavier meal out.
Favor Dry Over Moist or Oily
Kapha’s oiliness is offset by exceptionally
drying foods like beans, white potatoes, dried
fruits, rice cakes, popcorn, and an occasional
glass of dry red or white wine.
When cooking, it is important to use as little
oil as possible.
You can even play substituting water for oil
to prevent sticking.
Do your best to minimize oily foods like avocado,
coconut, olives, buttermilk, cheese, fried
eggs, cow’s milk, wheat, nuts, and seeds.
It is also important not to over-hydrate because
kapha can and does retain water easily.
So, do your best to drink only the amount
of fluid that your body requires, according
to your climate and activity level.
In addition, reduce your consumption of especially
moist foods like melons, summer squash, zucchini,
and yogurt, as these can also be too watery
Favor Rough Over Smooth
There’s a reason that fruits and vegetables
are sometimes called roughage; their fibrous
structure gives them a very rough quality.
This is why kapha responds so well to eating
large quantities of fresh fruits and vegetables.
That said, these foods are often much easier
to digest when cooked, so be careful not to
overdo raw foods, and adapt your enjoyment
of them according to the season.
Some foods, like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower,
dark leafy greens, and many beans are exceptionally
rough and are therefore wonderful for countering
kapha’s smooth, oily nature.
Conversely, eating foods and preparations
that are smooth in texture—things like bananas,
rice pudding, hot cereal, milk, cheese, and
the like—can quickly aggravate kapha.
Emphasize Pungent, Bitter, and Astringent
Kapha is pacified by the pungent, bitter,
and astringent tastes.
Understanding these tastes allows us to make
Pungent is a spicy, hot flavor like that found
in chilies, radishes, turnips, raw onions,
and most spices.
In fact, most spices are tremendously kapha-pacifying.
The pungent taste is light, hot, rough, and
dry– all beneficial for kapha.
In essence, if you like spicy or fiery hot,
go for it.
And even if you don't, favor a wide variety
of milder spices in your dishes– things
like cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, cumin, ginger,
garlic, paprika, and turmeric.
The pungent taste cleanses the mouth and clarifies
It stimulates digestion, liquefies secretions,
clears the channels of the body, encourages
sweating, and thins the blood.
The bitter taste predominates bitter greens
(like kale, dandelion greens, collard greens),
and is also found in bitter melon, Jerusalem
artichokes, burdock root, eggplant, dark chocolate,
and in kapha-pacifying spices like cumin,
neem leaves, saffron, and turmeric.
It's rough, drying, light, and generally reducing–
all qualities that benefit kapha, but it is
also cooling, so it's important to add some
warming spices to bitter foods.
Bitters cleanse the pallet and improve the
sense of taste.
They tone the skin and muscles, improve appetite,
support digestion, and help to absorb moisture,
lymph, muscle fat, adipose tissue, and sweat.
The astringent taste is basically a flavor
of dryness– a chalky taste that dries the
mouth and may cause it to contract (picture
biting into a very green banana).
Legumes like adzuki beans, black-eyed peas,
chickpeas, kidney beans, lentils, pinto beans,
and soybeans are classically astringent in
taste, and very kapha-pacifying.
Some fruits, vegetables, grains, baked goods,
and spices are also astringent in taste–
things like apples, cranberries, pomegranate,
artichokes, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce,
popcorn, rice cakes, crackers, basil, coriander,
dill, fennel, parsley, and turmeric.
The astringent taste is dry, rough, somewhat
light, and it reduces kapha.
But like the bitter taste, it is also cold,
so it's best to add warming herbs and spices
to astringent foods.
In some cases (as with pomegranate), simply
enjoying these foods in the warmer seasons
makes a lot of sense.
Kapha benefits from the compressing, absorbing
nature of the astringent taste, which also
helps to tone bodily tissues and utilize excess
Minimize Sweet, Sour, and Salty Tastes
Kapha is aggravated by the sweet, sour, and
Again, understanding these tastes allows us
to know how they affect us.
The sweet taste is cold, heavy, moist, oily
and kapha-provoking, especially in excess.
Reduce or eliminate the intake of refined
sugar and sugary sweet foods as much as possible.
It would be impossible to eat a nutritious
diet and avoid the sweet taste altogether.
But it is certainly reasonable to reduce the
portions of naturally sweet-tasting foods
like fruits, grains, root vegetables, milk,
ghee, yogurt, eggs, nuts, seeds, oils, and
Sweet foods tend to aggravate kapha's tendency
toward heaviness, obesity, lethargy, and excess
They can also cause excessive mucus, aggravate
colds and coughs, and depress the appetite
in an unhealthy way.
Minimize sour foods like vinegar, cheese,
sour cream, green grapes, oranges, pineapple,
The moistening and oily qualities of the sour
taste aggravate kapha.
It can increase thirst, create heaviness in
the eyes, cause laxity in the body, and aggravate
water retention or swelling.
An occasional squeeze of lemon or lime juice
is the best way for kapha to ingest the sour
The salty taste is almost singularly derived
from salt itself.
Much like the sour taste, it is salt's moist
and oily nature that aggravates kapha.
In excess, the salty taste can cause water
retention, high blood pressure, intestinal
inflammation, ascites, grey hair, wrinkles,
excess thirst, and it can impede the sense
Further, it tends to spark a sharp desire
for stronger flavors and can similarly trigger
insatiability and greed.
Stick to a Regular Eating Schedule
When it comes to pacifying kapha, how we eat
can gave a profound impact on our degree of
success, so this is an especially useful place
to focus if the prospect of radically changing
your diet feels overwhelming right now.
As most people with kapha digestion know,
kapha’s love of food and tendency toward
emotional eating can easily lead to overindulgence.
For this reason, kapha does well to stick
to three square meals each day, and sometimes,
just two meals are sufficient.
Eating at consistent times from one day to
the next also helps to strengthen the digestive
fire while regulating the appetite.
You can further counteract sluggish digestion
by chewing a slice of fresh ginger (about
the size of a nickel) with a pinch of sea
salt, a few drops of lime juice, and about
? teaspoon honey about 30 minutes before both
lunch and dinner.
This helps to prepare the digestive system
to receive food and to process it effectively.
Eat in A Peaceful Environment
During meals, it is very important to eat
in a peaceful environment and to give your
full attention to the act of being nourished
so that your body registers satisfaction.
This will help reduce overeating and emotional
Fast foods, sweets, and excessive amounts
of bread and other comfort foods can be especially
While you will likely not succeed in avoiding
all kapha-aggravating foods, their detrimental
potential can be minimized by making sure
that they are served warm, in small quantities,
and with the support of heating herbs.
Lastly, because kapha digestion is generally
a bit boggy, periodic fasts or cleanses can
be very helpful—especially if you tend to
be able to sustain your energy over long breaks
A short fruit or juice fast (think apple or
pomegranate), or a longer mono-diet of kitchari
can be very supportive.
Alright, so those were our top ten tips for
crafting your own kapha-pacifying diet.
But here are a few bonuses… suggested meals
for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Breakfast is often somewhat optional when
kapha is elevated.
Kapha benefits tremendously from the unforced,
overnight fast between dinner and breakfast.
If the appetite has not returned upon waking,
it’s likely that a light breakfast of fresh
fruit or tea will suffice.
If breakfast does feel important to you, consider
a substantive serving of fresh fruit, using
kapha-friendly fruits: stewed apples, a fruit
salad with apples, apricots, berries, mangos,
peaches, and strawberries, a fruit smoothie,
or some freshly juiced fruit.
Another option would be a baked apple.
If you need something more, hot cereals like
seasoned barley or rice porridge are excellent
You can even add a little dried fruit or a
dab of honey, if you like.
Add herbal, green, or black tea to any of
these breakfasts but be careful not to over-decorate
a dab of honey and/or rice milk is likely
Ideally, lunch is the main meal of the day,
meaning it’s the largest and the most nourishing.
Build your lunches around consuming lots of
steamed and sautéed vegetables, and compliment
them with beans, appropriate grains, non-yeasted
breads, a suitable meat, or an occasional
Try something like red lentil-lemongrass soup
and a side of steamed kale.
The kale can be garnished with olive oil,
lemon juice, and black pepper.
A simple vegetable soup made with vegetables
like onions, garlic, broccoli, celery, carrots,
green beans, and asparagus is an easy option.
Or try our recipe for saffron asparagus kitchari
with a side of sautéed dandelion greens with
lemon and mint.
Dinner is ideally significantly smaller and
lighter than lunch.
Soups and stews are often a wonderful choice
because they are warm and nourishing, even
A smaller serving of lunch can often work,
For some, especially when weight loss is indicated,
it’s best to forego dinner altogether in
favor of a healthy breakfast and lunch, or
to eat a more substantial breakfast and make
dinner the ultra-light meal of the day.
Try dal soup with sautéed asparagus and a
small serving of basmati rice, split pea soup
with rye toast, or potato leek soup with a
small salad and a stimulating dressing–
And finally, if you’re looking for a detailed
list of specific foods to favor and minimize
when pacifying kapha, we've got you covered.
Follow the link below to see our complete
kapha-pacifying foods list…. remembering
of course, that this list is meant to help
you deepen your understanding and begin to
see overarching patterns—not to create a
sense of restriction or deprivation.
If food lists tend to have that effect on
you, do your best to internalize the qualitative
tips we mentioned in this video.
Embrace eating regular meals without snacking
much in between, eat your main meal at lunch
with a lighter dinner, and make a concerted
effort to be fully present with all of your
That is as good a starting place as any and
can do wonders for your digestion and health.
We hope that you find this information helpful
and that applying these tips to your diet
brings you into a greater state of overall
health and well-being.
We want to hear how your journey with balancing
kapha dosha though food and eating practices
go, so tell let us know in the comments below.
Thanks for watching!