Pitta-Kapha Balancing Diet
Understanding Pitta-Kapha Dosha
Ayurvedic dietary recommendations for pitta-kapha 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-kapha 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-kapha type individual should keep in mind.
Pitta-Kapha Pacifying Food Qualities
As a pitta-kapha type individual, you are vulnerable to imbalances of both pitta and kapha aggravation. Your diet should therefore include foods that possess qualities to counter your dominant doshas’ influence. Since pitta’s qualities are heat, lightness, intensity, and fluidity, while kapha’s are cold, heaviness, rigidity, and dullness, your foods should be a mix of both heating and cooling, drying, and a mix of stabilizing and light.
According to Ayurveda, bitter and astringent tastes have a pacifying effect on both pitta and kapha doshas and should be included in any pitta-kapha balancing diet. At the same time foods with sweet, sour, and pungent tastes should be consumed in moderation and in equal proportions to maintain a balance of both doshas. In case of pitta aggravation, you can increase consumption of sweet tasting foods, while you can use sour and pungent tastes to pacify kapha.
Since pitta and kapha have contrasting qualities of heat and cold, foods should be consumed at a moderate, temperature; neither too hot, nor too cold. Similarly, foods should be drying, with a limited intake of oil. As heavy foods can cause digestive distress and give rise to other imbalances, they should only be consumed in moderation, but at the same time, you need to restrict foods that work like stimulants.
For a dual dosha type, modifying your diet according to the changing season is particularly important as certain seasons are associated with a specific dosha. For example, summer is associated with pitta aggravation, which is why you would tweak your diet to favor more foods that pacify pitta. On the other hand, kapha pacifying foods should be increased during the cold and wet months of winter, maybe extending to early spring.
Pitta-Kapha 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 your dominant doshas, they should be included in your diet. However, these foods should be consumed in limited quantities.
Foods that can aggravate both pitta and kapha include those with salty tastes. The taste is ascribed with qualities that are heating, heavy, and oily. Likewise, oily and liquid foods may be necessary for good health, but their intake should be restricted because of their tendency to aggravate both pitta and kapha.
The Best Foods for Your Dosha
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. Since kapha is one of your dominant doshas it would be wise to keep your breakfast very light, simply eating some fruits like apples, figs, berries, and dry fruits like raisins. Eggs can be included occasionally, but it is advisable to stick with hard boiled eggs.
Warm oatmeal porridge with berries and cinnamon
Other good breakfast options for a pitta-kapha constitution include warm oatmeal porridge with cardamom, cinnamon, and berries.
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. You can include cooked whole grains like barley and rice, along with cooked or sautéed vegetables and a small serving of meat if desired. Meats could include fish, chicken, and turkey, but should be restricted to one or two servings a week. Instead, pulses like mung dal, green beans, soy beans, and azuki can provide you with protein intake.
Barley porridge with vegetables
Vegetables can include the likes of zucchini, squash, and gourds, as well as leafy greens. Potatoes and other tubers may be included in meals, but only in a small quantity. If you are on a gluten free diet and would prefer to avoid grains, you can use quinoa as a substitute for barley and rice. Your lunch can be followed by a glass of buttermilk, but avoid having too much yogurt as it can aggravate both pitta and kapha.
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 cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce, parsley, zucchini, peas, and mushrooms. On days when you’re particularly hungry, you can also consume some whole grain pasta or quinoa along with a serving of cooked veggies.
Healthy vegetable broth
For garnishing, you can use spices like fennel, fenugreek seeds, garlic, turmeric, cumin, coriander, mint, and garlic. You can follow your meal with a glass of buttermilk or lassi.
Fruits like apples, pears, papayas, pineapples, and pomegranates make for the perfect snack, as they are neither too sweet, nor too sour. Fruits like mangoes and oranges, which are extremely sweet or sour, should be limited. Other healthy snack options include steamed or cooked sprouts and roasted seeds like sunflower, lotus, and pumpkin seeds. It is preferable that you avoid snacking after dinner.
Lentil salad with onions, parsley and tomatoes
Timing Your Meals
As a pitta-kapha 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 between 7 to 7:30 am
- Lunch at 12:30 pm
- Dinner at 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.