Tips to manage different body types in the workplace

Do you have a colleague that can be hot-headed and reactive, maybe even competitive; or an employee, or boss, that tends to become anxious or frustrated if things aren’t going to plan? Each of these corporate character traits are reflective of your individual dosha, or body and mind type. Once you become aware of your own inner-workings, and those of the people you work with, the office will become a more harmonious – and productive – space.

Being aware of this information can help you discover what type of work you are best suited to. It can also assist in fine-tuning your attitude and approach towards work, and wellness during the work-day, as well as with those you work with.

Considering we spend most of our day at work, it’s worth the investment of your time to understand yourself better - this will give you a personal path to health in the workplace.  

As we are all different and are represented predominantly by one of the three main body types (vata, pitta or kapha) it’s important to first know which one you are (if you don’t know your body type, find out here). The next step is finding out how best to fuel your dosha through the work you do, the food you eat, and the overall routines you implement – this will ensure you’re living your best life, reducing occupational hazards and remaining in peak mental and physical health.

Vata in a workplace

Vata body types tend to be lean, you’ll often have a thin frame, narrow shoulders and hips. You easily become anxious, worried and forgetful and might suffer bloating, constipation and feeling cold in the office while everyone else feels warm.

At work you are often so busy that you forget to stop and eat – or you graze on dry fruits and nuts, which aren’t the best thing for your digestive system. You’ll be much better placed eating small frequent meals – ideally something cooked or at least warm. Because vata requires regular nourishment, it is best to avoid fasting or crash dieting. If you feel the need to do a cleanse of some sort, a mono-diet of kitchari is much less vata-provoking than a fruit- or juice-cleanse, and it is certainly better than an all-out fast.

Sample of a great vata daily meal plan

Breakfast:

Breakfast is a critical meal when vata is elevated. After an overnight fast, vata needs real nourishment. A hearty breakfast is generally very stabilising to the entire system, when vata is elevated, provided it is not too heavy for your digestive capacity.

  • A power-packed meal of eggs and buttered toast is a winning choice of nourishment for vata - throw in a side of sautéed veggies or fresh avocado and it will be even better for you.

Lunch:

Ideally, lunch is the main meal of the day, meaning it’s the largest and the most nourishing of the three. Hearty grains, steamed and sautéed vegetables, breads, soups, and stews are excellent building blocks for lunch. Taking a thermos to work will help you have a yummy warm cooked lunch.  

  • Pumpkin soup with Basmati rice and roasted root vegetables with ghee.

Dinner:

Dinner is ideally a bit smaller and lighter than lunch, but to soothe vata, it needs to offer adequate nourishment. Soups, stews, or a smaller serving of lunch often fit the bill.

  • Baked roasted vegetables with sweet potatoes in ghee with minestrone soup, and green beans, or Kitchari with lots of vegetable and ghee.  

Vata inner workings

Mentally you tend to have more fear, anxiety and worry than other body types in the workplace, so you need to focus on remaining calm and grounded during the day. It’s not a bad thing to look at incorporating a little more fun into your 9-5 routine as being stuck behind a desk and not moving are the worst things for you – you’ll end up really fidgety and won’t maximise your time.

Vata body types do well in creative industries where they can spark new ideas – the best suited jobs for you include hospitality, events, the arts, theatre or things like that keep your mind busy and can allow you to use your creative spark.   

You also want to make sure you have a routine in place as vatas love change, but when there is too much change, things can become unstable and not grounded.

Out of the three body types you are the least suited to excessive travel, whereas pitta and kapha body types can handle this better.

Pittas in the workplace

Pitta body types are the natural leaders of the pack, you are very straight down the line, strong-willed and structured – it’s important that co-workers don’t take offence to your direct approach. If balanced, you will be determined, structured and full of energy. If out of balance, you might easily get frustrated, angry or irritable.

Chances are you have trademark red hair, like famous pitta personalities Julianne Moore and Nicole Kidman. Or maybe you’re bald, or have thinning hair, which is prone to premature greying when imbalanced.

Pittas like to eat when hungry – if you don’t eat lunch when you need to, and you end up ravenous, co-workers will need to steer clear of you because when your blood sugar levels drop, your temperature probably rises.

To keep things balanced on this front, stay away from fried, oily, spicy and processed foods. Instead try to eat more cooling foods like salads and fruits.

Pittas do well sticking to a regular eating schedule and should eat at least three square meals each day. Eating at consistent times from one day to the next also helps balance an overactive digestive fire - as do cooling garnishes, like cilantro, coriander, cumin, fennel, mint, avocado and coconut.  

Sample of a great pitta daily meal plan

Breakfast:

Best not to skip the first meal of the day when pitta is elevated. Workable choices are sweet, high in carbohydrates and offer sustained energy.

  • Oatmeal, or rice porridge, made with hot milk and garnished with raisins or chopped dates, chopped almonds (soaked and peeled), cardamom and fennel roasted with ghee, and topped organic maple syrup or honey.

Lunch:

Ideally, lunch is the main meal of the day, meaning it’s the largest and the most nourishing. A wide variety of appropriate grains, beans, and vegetables are great building blocks for lunch, and can be complemented with suitable meats, if you eat them. Try something like:

  • Whole wheat pasta, spelt or buckwheat pasta, pesto, and fresh vegetables (like broccoli, carrots, celery, green beans, mushrooms, zucchini, or black olives). Garnish the pasta with crumbled chèvre, olive oil, and cilantro. Serve with a small green salad and/ or soup.

Dinner:

Dinner is ideally a bit smaller and lighter than lunch, but it also needs to sustain pitta’s active metabolism. A simple but nourishing meal or a slightly smaller serving of lunch can work well.

Pitta inner workings

Pittas do better in high pressure environments than the other two body types and you are great at working to deadlines, but make sure they are not too high and achieving. Also make sure you’re not working somewhere hot, or you’ll start falling out of balance – for example a hot mine is not going to suit you. Instead typical pitta occupations might include working beside the water, in nature and in an office environment that is productive, where you are taking the lead and organising everyone. Just be mindful to not have stressful deadlines.

Kapha in the workplace

Grounded, resourceful, friendly and nurturing kapha body types tend to stay in their job for a long time. Of all three body types, you are blessed with a strong constitution and can carry a lot on your shoulders

Kaphas take a bit of time to learn new things, but once you’ve understood the process, it’s more than likely that you won’t need more explaining later on down the track. Vata on the other hand can teach, but they often forget quickly,

With a tendency to overeat, kaphas do well going for small snacks when hungry throughout the day, just don’t eat at your desk – actually no one should eat at their desk, but especially you kaphas. Kaphas also have a tendency to retain fluid so try eat warm liquid foods which are easy to digest.

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 your body registers satisfaction as kapha will comfort eat sweet to feel love and connected. This will help reduce overeating and emotional eating.

Fast foods, sweets, and excessive amounts of bread, pasta potatoes and other comfort foods can be especially kapha-provoking. While you will likely not succeed in avoiding all kapha-aggravating foods, these foods’ detrimental potential can be minimised by making sure they are served warm, in small quantities, and with the support of heating herbs like ginger and black pepper.

Also, because kapha digestion is generally a bit sluggish, periodic fasts or cleanses can be very helpful - especially if you are able to sustain your energy over long breaks between meals. A short fasting diet of moong soup or vegetable soups is the best way to re-set your digestive system. In our program we call this the 5:2 diet.

Breakfast:

Breakfast is often optional when kapha is elevated. Kapha benefits tremendously from the unforced, overnight fast between dinner and breakfast. If the appetite has not returned in the morning, often a light breakfast of a hot tea is plenty. Only eat breakfast if you are hungry - perhaps something like:

  • A substantive serving of fresh fruit or stewed apples, with a buckwheat pancake and honey

Lunch:

Ideally, lunch is the main meal of the day, meaning it’s the largest and the most nourishing. Build your lunches around lots of steamed and sautéed vegetables, and complement them with beans, appropriate grains, non-yeasted breads, a suitable meat, or an occasional egg.

  • A simple vegetable soup made with vegetables like onions, garlic, broccoli, celery, carrots, green beans, and asparagus, and a slice of rye toast or buckwheat pancake or pumpkin and buckwheat pancakes.

Dinner:

Dinner is ideally significantly smaller and lighter than lunch. Soups and stews are often the best choice because they are warm and nourishing, even when light. A smaller serving of lunch can often work, too. For some, especially when weight loss is the goal, it’s OK 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.

  • Moong dal soup served with cauliflower rice with turmeric and black pepper.

Kapha inner workings

Jobs that suit you include the caring professions like nursing, teaching and management (where people lean on you). The thing with kaphas is you tend to not like change much and often will need encouragement to move on. It is also OK to stay in the job if you are happy and stable.  

When things go wrong, you’ll probably start to withdraw, whereas pittas will snap and vatas become intimidated.

For a more in-depth look at linking mind and body to get the most out of your life, visit http://healthdynamics360.com If you want a more in depth view of how to get yourself in balance you may want a one-on-one debrief where we can see what is happening, help you love your day to day, and create a personalised path to health in your workplace.  

We also provide Lunch and Learn sessions where our practitioners go into a workplace, presenting a one-hour session on how best to stay healthy, motivated and vibrant at work (and home). We teach small and large teams how to find their flow in mind, body and spirit. Once your whole office is communicating on this level energy, happiness, determination and productivity improves greatly.

If you want this in your workplace, get in touch.