An Ayurvedic Approach to Anxiety | Basmati

Ayurveda Anxiety

Ayurvedic Medicine / December 11, 2011

With the new year in full swing, I wanted to spend two weeks focusing on finding ways to get more centered, improve my sleeping habits (which were admittedly terrible, leaving me tossing and turning most nights), and overall quality of my life—because isn't that what we all want (and need) at the end of the day? I decided to focus on an Ayurvedic diet, rich in foods suited to my body type and lifestyle—a diet that wasn't rooted in having to remove the foods I've found to work so well for me and without the need to count calories or make my already clean diet any more restrictive.

Before diving in, you're probably wondering, what exactly is Ayurveda anyway?

To put it simply, Ayurveda is an ancient practice that originated in India thousands of years ago and focuses on the ultimate connection between your mind, body, and nature. In Ayurveda, it's crucial that you identify your Dosha type (Vata, Pitta, Kapha), as your type helps one better identify where their energies are in flux and in need of balancing. Each Dosha has its own list of diet recommendations, and overall practices that aim to bring one's body into balance.

To kick things off, I chatted with Dr. Amy Shah, an M.D. (and mbg class instructor!) who mixes Ayurveda with traditional Western practices. To assess my Dosha, she gave me a series of 40 simple questions involving physical, emotional, and mental characteristics (you can find your own quiz here). I inevitably was as Vata as it gets—no surprise there. In Dr. Shah'’s words, Vata types generally have:

  • Dry skin
  • Cracking joints
  • Cold hands, feet
  • Restless eyes, hands, feet
  • Delicate body types
  • A tendency to talk and walk quickly
  • Trouble staying in one place
  • Subtle fears, anxieties, insecurities
  • A love for travel

…if you know me, you'd know that (most and/or all of) the above describe me IN A NUTSHELL.

From there, I spoke with mbg class instructor, best-selling author, and celebrity nutritionist Kimberly Snyder, to assist with my diet plan for the coming weeks. To start, Kimberly emphasized the importance of eating as many warm, grounding foods as possible, especially during New York's chillier winters. She also mentioned that when Vata types are imbalanced, they're more prone to insomnia and anxiety—again, it's like she was reading my mind. Safe to say, I was more than ready to tackle whatever Ayurvedic diet plan Kimberly had for me. If her guidance could help with my current sleep schedule (or lack thereof), I was more than in. She then recommended introducing the following to my daily routine, with an emphasis on foods that fell under the sweet, salty, or sour categories:

  • More ghee, coconut oils (meant to help with lubrication and digestive issues; I loved the pastured ghees from
  • More warming spices (like ginger and cumin, which help with immunity)
  • More brown rice (easy to digest, known to produce extra heat)
  • More bedtime elixirs (with hemp milk, turmeric, black pepper—known to help with serotonin levels)
  • More herbal teas; less caffeine (caffeine's known to amplify anxiety levels)
  • Eating seasonally (i.e., make root veggies your bff)
  • Daily self-massage (also known as abhyanga)

I also worked with both women to map out exactly what I'd be eating in the coming weeks. Turns out, my biggest undertaking would be amping up the ghee (not a problem), minimizing any sources of caffeine, and getting rid of those drier, crunchier foods I've grown to love…i.e., raw apples, rice cakes, and popcorn, to start.