In Ayurveda, we emphasize diet as a means to manage one’s state of health. Following an Ayurvedic diet most appropriate for your body type (dosha) is beneficial for mind, body and emotional health. Here we examine the Vata diet, a diet best suited to those with a Vata imbalance or Vata body type.
The Vata Diet + The Doshas
Vata pacifying foods help balance Vata in its aggravated state, which is more common than its depleted state. A piece of Ayurvedic trivia: you cannot be completely devoid of Vata or you will be in a coma or dead (in case you were wondering).Another aspect of Vata aggravation is that it can occur due to obstruction of the flow of Vata because of Pitta or Kapha doshas. In this state there are mixed symptoms of Pitta and Kapha aggravation along with Vata aggravation.
It’s best to have a practitioner help with this type of diagnosis and treatment plan.
Vata Diet Food Choices
Vata balancing foods calm Vata by lubricating and nourishing the tissues, preserving moisture, and maintaining warmth, all the while supporting proper digestion and elimination. There are simple principles to consider while discovering a vata pacifying diet that works for you.
The fundamentals of any Ayurvedic diet is that “like increases like” and the rule of opposites create balance. Let’s look at what exactly these guidelines mean and the Ayurvedic principle behind the options.
Vata Dosha is cool, light, dry, and rough so eating foods that balance these qualities can help to reduce excess Vata. Choose foods that have opposite qualities of Vata: warm, moist, oily, smooth and nourishing.
What exactly does warm food mean? Usually it is the temperature of the food, but in Ayurveda we are also talking about its taste and effect on digestion (whether heating or cooling). The beauty of heating spices is that you can prepare foods that may normally aggravate Vata, but with the use of heating and grounding spices like ginger and cumin they can become part of your normal diet.
Oily and moist foods are beneficial for Vata pacification. What does this mean? Yes, a Vata diet should make liberal use of oil and and ghee, but many foods which do not appear oily can still pacify Vata. Foods with grounding properties that counter the Vata qualities of lightness - like zucchini, squash and wheat - are also good for Vata. Drying foods like popcorn and raw vegetables should be avoided.
While incorporating oily foods to balance Vata is necessary, overindulging in foods with ‘heavy’ properties like deep fried snacks can actually aggravate Vata’s. delicate digestion. It’s crucial to find the right balance of oily food which facilitates digestion without impairing or slowing it down.
Tastes That Pacify Vata
Vata is pacified by the sweet, sour, and salty tastes and aggravated by the pungent, bitter, and astringent tastes. Knowing about these tastes allows you to design a Vata pacifying diet without having to constantly refer to extensive lists of foods to favor and avoid.
Sweet, sour and salty tastes pacify Vata and the other three tastes — astringent (salad leaves/unripe banana), pungent (pepper) and bitter (coffee) tastes aggravate Vata.
The Vata Diet Rules To Follow
As a Vata person you might have experienced that even after following a Vata diet, you sometimes face Vata disorders. The reason could be wrong eating habits. When it comes to pacifying Vata, how we eat may be just as important as what we eat. Vata gets pacified if you make it a point to eat in a peaceful environment, allowing enough time to chew the food. Eating three meals at regular intervals further reduces Vata and helps to strengthen delicate digestion. Sometimes, it is impossible to avoid all vata-aggravating foods. When that is the case simply cook them thoroughly with oil or ghee and spice them appropriately using tastes like sour to digest them properly. Being a Vata an all-out fasting or “cleanse” on water, fluids, or detox tea is not for you. You can have pureed soups, cooked grains and Vata pacifying dishes like kitchari with a little ghee. This will give the effect of fasting without aggravating Vata.
Wrapping it Up
There is good and bad news with being a Vata: the bad news is that it is very easy to get out of balance due to its light and airy properties. The good news is that it is just as easy to resume normalcy with the simple diet tips listed above. None of us are quite the same so it may take some time to figure out the foods and spices that work best for you, but with a little experimentation you'll be cooking and feeling like an Ayurvedic master.