Pitta Balancing Diet
Understanding Pitta Dosha
Ayurvedic dietary recommendations for pitta type individuals follow a common sense approach, requiring small changes to your food choices and eating habits. The importance of a wholesome diet that includes every food group is heavily emphasized, but there are clear guidelines on specific foods and beverages that should be included or limited. These recommendations are based on the unique properties of your dominant dosha and an analysis of the unique properties of foods, which influences their interaction with the doshas.
When planning an Ayurvedic pitta diet, we look at 3 important qualities or characteristics of food – Rasa or taste, Virya or energy, and Vipaka or post-digestive effect. Understanding this Ayurvedic classification of food and your unique doshic makeup will allow you to make informed dietary choices. This can be a bit tricky when you’re just getting started, which is why it helps to refer to a dosha-specific diet guide. So, here’s what every pitta type individual should keep in mind.
Pitta Pacifying Food Qualities
As a pitta type individual, you are more vulnerable to imbalances of pitta aggravation. Your diet should therefore include foods that possess qualities to counter your dominant dosha’s influence. Since pitta’s qualities are heat, lightness, intensity, and fluidity, so your foods should be cooling, heavy or grounding, and drying.
According to Ayurveda, sweet, bitter, and astringent tastes have a pacifying effect on pitta and should be included in any pitta balancing diet. This is because these three tastes are ascribed with energy that is cooling, heavy, and drying. The intake of foods with these tastes helps to pacify pitta, when used in moderation. As cooling energy is important for pitta types, it is best to have foods and drinks that have a cooling effect, with meals generally being served at room temperature or just mildly heated. To counter the light, intense, and fluid qualities of pitta, you need foods that are not just heavy, but stabilizing and drying to some extent. As heavy foods can cause digestive distress and give rise to other imbalances, they should only be consumed in moderation.
Pitta Aggravating Food Qualities
As we mentioned earlier, Ayurveda emphasizes a wholesome approach to dieting that includes all food groups. Although some foods and food qualities do pose a risk of aggravating pitta, they should be included in your diet. However, these foods should be consumed in limited quantities. Foods that can aggravate pitta include those with sour, salty, and pungent tastes. These tastes are ascribed with qualities that are heating, lightening, and oily, accentuating pitta’s qualities. Because of your pitta constitution, it is advisable to avoid consuming both foods and beverages at a high temperature. Likewise, oily and liquid foods may be necessary for good health, but their intake should be restricted because of their tendency to aggravate pitta.
The Best Foods for Your Dosha
The best way to start your day is with a cup of herbal tea using pitta balancing herbs like shatavari, turmeric, and fennel. A glass of hot milk with ghee, turmeric, honey, and chyavanprash would also be a great idea.
Although lunch is regarded as the most important meal of the day, a healthy breakfast helps to keep your energy levels stable through the morning. There are a number of healthy breakfast foods to choose from, including cream of wheat or barley, or puffed rice or wheat with coconut milk and ghee. This can be garnished with spices like cilantro and coriander, as well as with crushed nuts like almond. Eggs can also be included at breakfast time, but hard boiled eggs are preferable to fried eggs.
Other good breakfast options for a pitta type constitution include chilled porridge with crushed nuts and berries or fruit salads with raisins for when you aren’t particularly hungry.
Ayurveda regards lunch as the most important meal of the day, so no matter how busy your schedule may be, try to have a wholesome and balanced meal that includes various food groups. The ideal foods to include in your lunch include the likes of basmati rice, split yellow múng dal, ghee, leafy greens like broccoli and lettuce, bell peppers, radish, and mushrooms. You can garnish your food with spices and herbs like coriander, black pepper, turmeric, basil, and mint.
Whole grain tortillas with vegetable salad and chicken
As an alternative to rice, you can also opt for whole grain tortillas or pasta. A small serving of vegetable salad is always a good addition on the side and you can use dressings like mint mayonnaise or sunflower oil. In addition to legumes, non-vegetarians can up their protein intake with white meats like chicken and turkey, or with freshwater fish.
Although dinner is an important meal, it should be smaller and lighter than your lunch. Your dinner can include a serving of soup or broth with vegetables like artichoke, cauliflower, and garbanzo beans. If you’re not up for soup or would like something more substantial, a whole grain pasta with similar vegetables would work. One of the healthiest options would be a bowl of kitchari, which is a traditional Indian dish that includes rice, cooked with chopped veggies and spices like black mustard, cumin, cinnamon, fennel, coriander, and fenugreek seeds.
Whole wheat pasta with vegetables
Individuals who suffer from celiac disease or gluten intolerance can use quinoa as a substitute for rice. This superfood is now highly recommended by dieticians because of its high nutrition value, not to mention its delightful nutty flavor. To widen the range of vegetables in your meals, you can also consider adding parsnips, potatoes, carrots, and leafy greens, among others. You can follow your meal with a glass of buttermilk or lassi.
Fruits with a sweet or bitter flavor make for great snacks and some healthy options for a pitta constitution include apples, pears, papayas, pineapples, and pomegranates. Try to stick with sweet fruits, while limiting intake of those with sour tastes like most citric fruits. Dry fruits, nuts and seeds are also a nutritious snacking options, but you need to stick with pitta healthy varieties like coconuts, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, and almonds.
Coconut and other nuts with cold milk
It would also be a good idea to wash any evening snacks down with a glass of chilled milk, garnished with ghee and turmeric.
Timing Your Meals
As a pitta type, you’re probably already aware of the importance of a daily routine or dinacharya in Ayurveda. Meal timings are an important facet of this daily schedule and should be adhered to as far as possible. Keeping this in mind you should consume your:
- Breakfast at around 7:30 am
- Lunch at 12 pm
- Dinner between 6 to 7 pm
Obviously, adhering strictly to this routine can be challenging, especially when it comes to dinner time, but try not to delay it by more than half an hour as far as possible.
The Final Word
Your diet is something personal and these guidelines are meant precisely as that – to serve as a guide. You should use your own discretion to choose the right foods and meal times, but these Ayurvedic recommendations can help point you in the right direction. Just make it a point to include as wide a variety of these foods using the information provided. After all, Ayurveda emphasizes the importance of balanced nutrition and the whole range of food available to humans is more than we could fit into a single page! Simply avoid consumption of heavily processed and refined foods, as these foods are known to raise ama levels, increasing the risk of chronic lifestyle diseases.
- Tirtha, Swami Sadashiva. The Ayurveda Encyclopedia: Natural Secrets to Healing, Prevention & Longevity. 2nd ed., Ayurveda Holistic Center Press, 2007.
- Lad, Vasant. The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies. Three Rivers Press, 1999.
The information on this page has been contributed by Meghna Unhawane, B.Sc. Home Science & Nutrition and is intended for the sole use of Allayurveda. Information contained within this article may not be reproduced without the explicit permission of Allayurveda.