Ayurveda, the holistic Indian medical science, believes that whatever is happening on the outside of the body is a reflection of what's happening inside, says Dr. Pratima Raichur, owner of New York City's Pratima Spa and Skincare. This means that healthy, glowing skin, high energy, and decreased stress levels (just to name a few wedding-related benefits) can be better attained by eating the foods that are most compatible with your dosha, the characteristics that make up your unique "mind-body type" in Ayurveda.
"Eating in accordance with your dosha bolsters metabolic function, optimizes digestion, and reduces the amount of waste in the body, which supports all other aspects of wellness, including the function and radiance in your skin," Raichur says. There are three doshas: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Each originates from the elements of five fundamental energies: space, air, fire, water, and earth. "All of these show up in different proportions in each person throughout the body and mind," Raichur explains. Here's how to figure out your dominant dosha as it applies to digestion, and what to eat in the months leading up to your wedding in order to look and feel your best on the big day.
"People who have vata digestive types are governed by space and air, will naturally eat smaller portions at irregular times, or even forget to eat if life has something more fun distracting them," she says. "They frequently experience gas or bloating after meals and benefit greatly from avoiding raw foods and instead favoring warm meals at regular intervals." Choose items like root vegetables, dairy, ghee, nuts, rice, grains, winter squash, hearty soups, and cooked vegetables. Since these types, who often run cold, could use help with circulation, it's a good idea to add warming spices to meals, like cinnamon, cardamom, cumin, cloves, mustard seed, ginger, and pepper, Raichur says. When in doubt, avoid food that's airy, dry, and cold, like smoothies, raw food, salads, popcorn, and chips, and instead choose foods with the opposite qualities in denser, richer dishes with good fat content.
"Governed by fire and water, Pitta digestive types naturally have a robust appetite, and are able to eat large portions in one sitting with ease," she says. They generally feel intolerant to skipping or delaying meals and they're the only types that can digest raw food well. But they need to focus on keeping inflammation in check. Since fire, or heat, is quite prevalent in the body, they can frequently experience heartburn, ulcers, and indigestion." Make choices that balance out the heat ratio in a meal: eat more foods with sweet, bitter, and astringent qualities, like salads, steamed veggies, fruits, legumes, whole grains, rice, oats, rye, coconut oil, and herbs like basil, coriander, dill, fennel, and parsley. Eat less sour, salty, and spicy foods, like chips, alcohol, coffee, vinegar, fermented foods, citrus, deep fried, and spicy food.
"These digestive types are governed by earth and water and prefer grazing all day," she says. "Having a big meal in one sitting often makes them feel heavy and lethargic, and it can take a long time for their bodies to break down large quantities at once. Similar to Vata, they need a little digestive assistance with the right kind of spices and proportions." The golden rule? Avoid food that is cold, raw, heavy, and rich, like cold soups, salads, smoothies, fried foods, and sweets, and favor cooked food that is light, dry, warm, and spicy, like steamed vegetables, dark leafy greens, beans, grains, barley, quinoa, light cooking oils, fruits, light soups and spices like cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, cumin, ginger, garlic, paprika, and turmeric.