The qualities light, dry, cold, rough, mobile, irregular, subtle and clear are Vata-qualities. If we ‘engage’ to much with these qualities – whether being it through what we eat (or not eat, like fasting promotes the light quality), drink (cold drinks f.e. increase the cold quality), do (movement in any form fosters the mobile quality of Vata dosha), our routine (an unstructured and irregular routine) or wear (a rough material clothing f.e.) – Vata can aggravate.
In other words, Vata has become so high that it causes imbalance. The qualities express themselves and we might feel restless, over-thinking, worry, depleted, fatique, gas, bloating, constipation, trembling, dizzy, disturbed sleep/insomnia, muscle tension, sensitive to loud sounds, anxious, cold, dry hair and or skin. These are all symptoms related to aggravated Vata. You do not have to experience all, but often several sound familair to you if you Vata is aggravated.
In Autumn – all Vata qualities prevail (colder temperatures, storms with winds coming from all direction, leaving our body dry, our skin and hair rough) which makes us even more prone to a Vata disbalance.
In order to balance Vata we need to ‘engage’ in the opposite qualities: so warm, stable, heavy, regular, dense, cloudy, oily, liquid and smooth qualities. We do that by nourishing and grounding ourselves.
In this article I bring forth the Vata-pacifying diet as described be ‘Ayurveda experience’ (source: https://www.theayurvedaexperience.com/blog/vata-diet/) – so that you can work on feeling more stable, calm, warm, energetic, safe and confident.
Favor warm food
What exactly does warm food mean? Usually it is the temperature of the food, but in Ayurveda we are also talking about heating spices or foods with heating properties. Both are generally good for pacifying Vata. The beauty of heating spices is that you can prepare foods that are Vata aggravating with the use of heating and grounding spices like ginger and garlic. You can cook beans so that they do not aggravate vata as much as they would originally. On the other hand, it is best to avoid foods with cooling properties and foods taken directly from the refrigerator like cold drinks. Even precooked refrigerated foods that are warmed in a microwave or otherwise are deficient in prana or life essence. These are not recommended. Freshly cooked food is always preferred.
Oily and moist foods are beneficial for Vata pacification.What does this mean? Well a Vata diet should make use of oil and butter and ghee liberally and that is what is an oily food. But many foods which do not appear oily can still pacify Vata. Foods that have grounding properties that counter the Vata properties of lightness like zucchini, squash and wheat are also good for Vata. Drying foods like popcorn should be avoided.
What happens when we eat foods with heavy properties in an attempt to counteract the light property of Vata? Overeating foods with ‘heavy’ properties like deep fried snacks or foods like root vegetables actually aggravates Vata. This is due to the derangement of the delicate digestion that a Vata person has.
Another point to ponder in a Vata diet is the choice of foods that are smooth in texture over foods that are rough in texture. So many raw fruits and vegetables that are rough in texture are Vata aggravating contrary to smooth textured fruits like bananas and vegetables like squash. Cooking can change the character of many foods and make them Vata pacifying. A pureed vegetable soup is one example.
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/raw banana), pungent (pepper) and bitter tastes aggravate Vata. Let’s take a look at them in detail.
The Sweet Taste
Sweet is cooling and grounding and in moderation, promotes longevity, strength, and healthy bodily fluids and tissues. Its heavy, oily, moist qualities tend to slow down digestion. It’s often suggested in Ayurveda to eat dessert first as an appetizer when the digestive or metabolic fire is at its peak. The sweet taste is found in foods like most fruits, most grains, root vegetables, milk, ghee, fresh yogurt, eggs, nuts, seeds and most oils except mustard. The sweet taste due to its cooling, grounding, nourishing, strength building, and satisfying properties is the most important constituent of a Vata pacifying diet. Please note that when we talk about the sweet taste we are talking about foods with a naturally sweet taste, and/or a sweet post digestive effect. These include sweet potatoes, white rice and wheat. Refined sugars and confectionery tend to increase the restlessness of a Vata prakriti person.
The Sour Taste
The sour taste awakens the mind and senses, stimulates digestive juices, improves digestion, eliminates excess wind and pacify Vata when taken in moderation, preferably along with the sweet taste. Lemon juice , tamarind, sauerkraut, apple cider vinegar and sour sweet fruits like orange, pineapple and kiwi can be included in the Vata diet in moderation.
The Salty Taste
The salty taste stimulates the appetite and digestion. It helps retain moisture and supports proper elimination. It also improves the flavor of many foods. The main source of the salty taste is salt in its various forms – sea salt, rock salt and common table salt. It is to be used in very small quantities.
It can alter the properties of food. Specifically it can help with the digestion of Vata aggravating foods. It will minimally aggravate Vata as in a salad dressed with rock salt.
The Pungent Taste
Many spices are of the pungent taste and due to their hot property they are Vata pacifying in many instances. But as the pungent taste is hot, dry and light, too much of it is extremely drying to the system, exacerbating the rough quality. It therefore disturbs Vata.
The Bitter Taste
The bitter taste is cooling, rough, drying, light, and generally reducing. It possesses all qualities that tend to aggravate Vata. It is generally lacking in our diet due to its unpalatable taste. Hence it can come handy when there is depletion of Vata due to increase of Kapha. No doubt why dark chocolate is so popular among the masses as it gives that bitter taste. Spices like turmeric and fenugreek seeds can add the bitter taste to our food without aggravating Vata.
The Astringent Taste
The astringent taste is dry, cold, heavy and rough in nature and thus aggravates Vata. A raw banana, beet root, artichoke and jack fruit are all examples of astringent taste.
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 futher 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 on water, fluids or raw fruits and vegetables is not for you. But 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.
Vata Diet Meal Suggestions
Still not clear what you can have to tame Vata? Well here is a sample of three meals which tame Vata.
Vata personalities have a very delicate energy reserve which tends to go down very fast in absence of food. So after an overnight fasting, breakfast becomes essential for Vata people to maintain their energy levels. The breakfast options should be such that they are grounding and have Vata pacifying properties and also at the same time are easy on digestion.
Hot cereals with milk (as milk is grounding)
Eggs with a multigrain or whole wheat bread, buttered toast
Tortilla roll with vegetables sauteed in a little butter or ghee.
A rice or semolina pudding garnished with nuts or fried seeds
Warm almond milk sweetened further with a few dates and garnished with cinnamon and ‘Kesar’ (saffron)
Lunch is the most important meal in all body types as digestive fire is at its peak at this time. A lunch can include sauteed or boiled vegetables with cooked lentils, served with whole grain pasta, tortillas, rice or noodles. Fats like olive oil, butter or ghee should be used in cooking. Soups and stews also have a place in lunch and are good starters in the winter season. Salad is generally best avoided by Vata but a little salad with oily or sour dressings can be taken. Split moong dal with basmati rice or sauteed okra with shredded coconut and a little cilantro, eaten with whole wheat bread or tortilla or flatbread is another good choice.
Dinner is to be consumed at least 2 hours prior to sleeping and should be lighter than lunch. As it is Kapha time (the diurnal variation of Dosha), a small appetizer like a spiced soup or Indian dishes like ‘rasam’ are perfect before the main course. All options mentioned for lunch can be had for dinner but in a smaller quantity.
In case you have any questions about the Vata pacifying diet or in cae you want to know what more you can do to nourish and ground your system, feel free to contact me 🙂