Vata Balancing Diet
Ayurvedic dietary recommendations for vata
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 vata 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 vata type individual should keep in mind.
Vata Pacifying Food Qualities
To counter the cooling, drying, light, and mobile influence of your dominant dosha, you need to eat foods that have a heating, oily or lubricating, and stabilizing effect.
As a vata type individual, you are more vulnerable to imbalances of vata aggravation. Your diet should therefore include foods that possess qualities to counter your dominant dosha’s influence. Since vata’s qualities are cold, dryness, lightness, and mobility, your foods should be heating, moist or oily and lubricating, grounding, and stabilizing.
According to Ayurveda, sweet, sour, and salty tastes have a pacifying effect on vata and should be included in any vata balancing diet. This is because these three tastes are ascribed with energy that is heating, lubricating, and grounding. The intake of foods with these tastes helps to pacify vata, when used in moderation.
As heating energy is important for vata types, it is best to have foods and drinks that have a heating effect, served warm or hot. To counter the drying effect of vata, you need to hydrate adequately with good intake of moist and oily foods. Foods with a heavy quality will also act as a balance for the lightness of vata, but should be consumed in moderation to avoid stressing your digestive system.
Vata Aggravating Food Qualities
To prevent vata aggravation, restrict your intake of foods that are cold or chilled and foods that have a drying effect.
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 vata, they should be included in your diet. However, these foods should be consumed in limited quantities.
Foods that can aggravate vata include those with pungent, bitter, and astringent tastes. These tastes are ascribed with qualities that are cooling, drying, and lightening, accentuating vata’s qualities.
As a vata type, you should restrict your intake of cooling foods, especially those that are not natural. This would mean avoiding or drastically restricting the intake of frozen foods and chilled beverages. Similarly, drying foods that exacerbate the drying effect of vata and stimulants that increase the lightening effect of vata should be restricted.
The Best Foods for Your Dosha
The best way to start your day is with a cup of herbal tea with herbs like ginger, cardamom, or ashwagandha, or with a glass of hot milk with ghee, turmeric, or honey, and chyavanprash.
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 rice with ghee and cardamom, a bowl of oats with cardamom and ghee, eggs with sautéed or steamed vegetables, and rice-based puddings.
Cream of rice garnished with cinnamon
In addition to cardamom, you can also garnish your breakfast foods with warming spices like ginger, cinnamon, coriander, garlic, and cloves. Don’t forget that your breakfast should be light and nourishing, so keep your serving size small.
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, sweet potato, lassi, whole wheat chapatis, sautéed veggies like lady finger and pumpkin, coconut flesh, olives, cheese, beets, leafy veggies, and pulses or legumes. Baked, steamed, roasted, or cooked meats may also be included as a source of protein, but should only be consumed in moderation. As with breakfast, these foods can be garnished with heating spices and healthy oils like olive or sesame oil and ghee.
Healthy lunch with rice, leafy greens, chicken, and garlic
Vata type individuals will also benefit from including moist foods like soups, stews and casseroles, as well as more oil. While some of your veggies can be consumed as a salad, the bulk of your food should be cooked.
Although dinner is an important meal, it should be smaller and lighter than your lunch. Your dinner can include a serving of soups, broths, or stews, along with a side of sautéed vegetables or baked and buttered sweet potatoes. Veggies could include the likes of artichoke, asparagus, cabbage, and squash. While you can include grains like barley, quinoa works as a great substitute for grains because of its high nutrition value, not to mention its delightful nutty flavor. As usual, you can follow your meal with a glass of buttermilk or lassi.
Light dinner with soup and stir fry veggies
Juicy fruits make for great snacks, but you should stick with sweet ripe fruits like mangoes, avocado, peach, melons, figs, papaya, and so on. Fruits with an astringent taste like raw apples and cranberries should be restricted or can be stewed. Dry fruits and nuts are also extremely nutritious, but should only be consumed in small quantities because of their drying effect. In addition to fruits, you can also consume herbal teas and light snacks like sesame seed, peanut or almond butter on chapattis, toast, or whole grain tortillas.
Buttered tortillas and herbal tea
If you need to snack after dinner, it is advisable to limit your snacks to a handful of healthy nuts and seeds like almonds, hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds. It would also be a good idea to wash any evening snacks down with a glass of boiled milk, garnished with ghee, ginger, and honey.
Timing Your Meals
As a vata 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 8 am
- Lunch between 11 am to 12 pm
- Dinner at 6 pm
Obviously, adhering strictly to this routine can be challenging, especially when it comes to dinner time. If your work schedule does not allow for an early dinner, simply try to eat as early as you can.
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.