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  • Pitta Diet: Everything You Need To Know

    Pitta Diet: Everything You Need To Know

    The Ayurveda Experience September 25, 2023

    Are you someone who thrives in a structured routine, but can sometimes struggle with perfectionism? Or a passionate go-getter with a fiery spirit that never quits? Is your keen intellect and sharp decision-making your superpower in both personal and professional realms? If you answered "yes" to these questions, you might just be embodying the qualities of a Pitta person!  

    If you are still not clear about your dosha type, feel free to take this quiz!    

    If you resonate with these qualities, you're in for a treat when it comes to the Pitta diet! Your sharp intellect and decision-making skills also come into play in your dietary choices. You tend to be quite discerning, making it easier for you to pick out the foods that nourish your body and mind best. A balanced Pitta diet will capitalize on your ability to make informed choices.  

    According to Ayurveda, your diet isn't just a meal plan – it's a blueprint for optimal well-being. In essence, the Pitta diet is designed to complement your innate qualities, harnessing your fire for vitality, and well-being while keeping your temperament in perfect harmony. 

    Weare here to take you through the intricacies of a Pitta diet, a culinary experience tailored to those with a Pitta imbalance or a Pitta body type. 

    Ayurvedic wisdom teaches that what we eat isn't just about satisfying our taste buds; it's a powerful tool for nurturing the mind, body, and emotions.  

    A diet that not only boosts your physical health but also promotes mental clarity and emotional equilibrium – that's the magic of the Pitta diet! 

    Here’s what you’ll learn in this blog: 

    • Finding Your Balance: Pitta Diet and Doshas 
    • Understanding the Pitta Diet: Balancing Fire Within
    • Dietary Tips for Pitta Harmony
    • Pitta Balance: Essential Guidelines
    • Best Pitta Diet Food Choices 
    • Tastes That Pacify Pitta Dosha
    • Pitta Diet Rules to Follow
    • Pitta Diet Meal Suggestions

    Finding Your Balance: Pitta Diet and Doshas 

    When your fiery Pitta dosha is not in its usual state or seems aggravated, you need some Pitta-pacifying foods to soothe that fire or imbalance. Pitta pacifying foods help balance Pitta dosha when it’s in an aggravated state. 

    Sometimes, a depleted state of Pitta may require the use of foods that increase the properties of Pitta. In such cases, heating and light foods are used for a short period of time until the Pitta regains its strength. Depleted Pitta is generally seen in Kapha and Vata aggravation and can concurrently happen in a Pitta body. 

    In such cases, Pitta balancing foods help calm aggravated Pitta by cooling and hydrating the tissues, balancing moisture, and maintaining optimum temperature. At the same time, these foods should also support proper digestion and elimination. 

    Understanding the Pitta Diet: Balancing Fire Within1 

    People with a Pitta constitution share qualities with fire - they're warm, sharp, and have a fiery intelligence. However, when Pitta is out of balance, they can become easily agitated and short-tempered. Pitta individuals are typically of medium height and build with warm, less wrinkled skin and silky hair. Their strong metabolism and good digestion lead to hearty appetites, especially for hot spices and cold drinks. But too much of these can worsen their Pitta imbalance. 

    During the hot summer months, which align with Pitta's qualities, issues like sunburn and irritability may flare up. To counter this, a Pitta-balancing diet and lifestyle are crucial. Cooling foods, avoidance of spicy foods, and staying in cooler climates can help.

    Dietary Tips for Pitta Harmony1

    For Pitta folks, avoiding sour, salty, and pungent foods is key. Vegetarianism is recommended, with meat, eggs, alcohol, and excessive salt to be avoided. To calm their innate intensity, they should incorporate sweet, cooling, and bitter foods into their diets. Grains like barley, rice, oats, and wheat are good choices, along with plenty of vegetables. 

    Fruits like sweet apples and berries are excellent, while limiting consumption of sour fruits is crucial. Pitta individuals can tolerate sweeteners better than others, but hot spices should be used sparingly. Dairy products like milk, unsalted butter, and soft cheeses are suitable. Yogurt can be consumed when blended with spices and a little sweetener, and small amounts of certain oils like coconut, olive, and sunflower are also cooling in nature. 

    To season their meals, Pitta individuals can opt for spices like cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, fennel, and turmeric, with minimal use of cumin and black pepper. It's best to avoid coffee, alcohol, and tobacco, though an occasional beer may be relaxing. Black tea with a touch of milk and cardamom is an occasional indulgence. 

    Pitta Balance: Essential Guidelines1 

    • Keep cool:Excessive heat aggravates Pitta. Seek shade and avoid intense sun exposure, especially during the hot hours of the day.
    • Moderate oil: While some oils are okay in moderation, excessive oiliness can worsen Pitta. Be mindful of oily foods and choose cooking methods that require less oil.
    • Steam in moderation: Excessive steamy environments can increase Pitta's intensity. Use saunas and steam rooms sparingly.
    • Salt sensibility: Limit your salt intake. Too much salt can disrupt Pitta balance, so be cautious with salty foods and seasonings.
    • Chill out with food: Opt for cooling, non-spicy foods to pacify Pitta. Incorporate fruits, vegetables, and foods with sweet or bitter tastes into your diet.
    • Exercise smart:Engage in physical activity during the cooler parts of the day, such as mornings or evenings, to prevent overheating.

    By following these general guidelines, you can maintain a harmonious Pitta balance and enjoy better overall well-being. 

    READ MOREKnow Your Body Constitution To Attain The Best Of Health

    Best Pitta Diet Food Choices 

    What determines the choice of foods for a Pitta type? 

    The basis of any Ayurvedic diet and therapeutics is the rule of opposites and similarities. As mentioned earlier, Pitta is hot, sharp, fluid, sour and pungent. Eating foods that neutralize these qualities can help to balance excess Pitta. These are foods that are cold (in property not in temperature necessarily). They are subtle, binding, bitter and sweet. 

    On the other hand, if Pitta needs to be strengthened, foods with similar properties to Pitta have to be included in the diet until the Pitta comes into a balanced state. 

    If you would like to learn more about Ayurvedic nutrition and how different foods affect the doshas, check out this Ayurvedic course on Holistic Nutrition by Todd Caldecott. 

     Ayurveda on Diet and Nutrition for Vata, Pitta, Kapha

    Tastes That Pacify Pitta Dosha3 

    Our diet has six tastes in all. 

    Pitta is pacified by the sweet, astringent and bitter tastes and aggravated by the pungent, salty, and sour tastes. 

    Knowing about these tastes allows us to design a Pitta pacifying diet without having to constantly refer to extensive lists of foods to favor and avoid. 

    You can use these taste guidelines to create your own quick Pitta pacifying recipes. 

    The Sweet Taste 

    Sweet is cooling and grounding and in moderation, promotes longevity, strength, and healthy bodily fluids and tissues. 

    It’s 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 Pitta 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. Sweet desserts, when taken in excess, tend to cause indigestion. 

    Constitutionally the sweet taste has the elements of Kapha, water, and earth, and hence aggravates Kapha the most. 

    The Bitter Taste 

    The bitter taste is cooling, rough, drying, light, and generally reducing. It possesses all the qualities that tend to pacify Pitta. 

    It is generally lacking in our diet due to its unpalatable taste. Hence it can come in handy when there is an aggravation of Pitta due to several reasons. 

    The bitter taste is beneficial when an excess of Kapha causes indigestion. It’s useful when there is a production of acidity or when Pitta has gone sour. 

    It’s also useful when Pitta aggravation affects the blood and causes inflammatory disorders. Spices like turmeric and fenugreek, as well as bitter gourds (in small quantities),  can add the bitter taste to food whenever it’s needed. 

    The Astringent Taste 

    The astringent taste is dry, cold and heavy in nature. It pacifies Pitta. 

    Artichoke, beetroot, raw banana, or jack fruit are examples of the astringent taste. 

    The Sour Taste 

    The sour taste awakens the mind and senses. It stimulates digestive juices, improves digestion and eliminates excess wind or gas. 

    It aggravates Pitta if taken in excess. 

    Lemon juice, tamarind, sauerkraut, apple cider vinegar and sour-sweet fruits like orange, pineapple, and kiwi are a few examples. 

    If you would like to learn more about Ayurvedic nutrition and how different foods affect the doshas, check out this Ayurvedic course on Holistic Nutrition by Todd Caldecott. 

    Sour foods, due to their appetizing effect, can be included in the diet in forms that do not aggravate Pitta. 

    A mint coriander dip made sour with pomegranate juice or Indian gooseberry is a good example. 

    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 should be used in very small quantities. 

    Constitutionally it is composed of fire and water and hence can aggravate Pitta moderately. 

    It can alter the properties of the foods and can turn Pitta pacifying foods into Pitta aggravating foods. Salads dressed with lots of salt do this. 

    So, the salty taste should be consumed in moderation by those with a Pitta body type or Pitta prakriti. 

    The Pungent Taste 

    Pungent spices are Pitta aggravating due to their hot property. 

    The drying qualities of the pungent taste can antagonize the fluid property of Pitta. Dried ginger powder is a good example. 

    The pungent taste has the potential to aggravate Pitta if taken in excess. A small quantity though is good to aid digestion in a Pitta person. 

    Pitta Diet Rules to Follow4 

    Even after following a Pitta pacifying diet, you may at times still encounter a Pitta disorder. The reason could be wrong eating habits! 

    When it comes to pacifying Pitta, how and when you eat may be just as important as what you eat. 

    Environment 

    Pitta gets pacified if you make it a point to eat in a peaceful environment, allowing enough time to chew the food. 

    Also keep a balance between hydrating and drying, and cooling and heating foods. 

    Meal Timings 

    Eating three meals at regular intervals further reduces Pitta and helps to calm fiery digestion. 

    Cook With Balance 

    Sometimes it is impossible to avoid all Pitta aggravating foods. When that is the case, simply cook them in Pitta pacifying medium or combine them with appropriate Pitta pacifying foods and spices. 

    Use tastes like the sweet taste to help digest them properly without aggravating Pitta. 

    Fasting 

    Occasional fasting on water and fluids with sweet properties could be beneficial if Pitta is aggravated. 

    Coconut water, thin moong dal soup, or fasting on raw fruits and vegetables would be good choices. 

    But you have to avoid fasting for prolonged periods of time. A strong Pitta can start consuming your tissues. 

    When indigestion strikes, you have options beyond fasting. Consider this gentle remedy: Sip on a cup of freshly squeezed, sweet pineapple juice infused with a hint of ginger and a dash of black pepper. Add just half a teaspoon of organic sugar for a touch of sweetness. Take this three times a day to reignite your digestive fire and grant your digestive system a well-deserved break. This natural concoction can work wonders in alleviating indigestion, offering relief while also nurturing your digestive health. 

    Pitta Diet Meal Suggestions4 

    Still not clear what you can have to tame Pitta? 

    Here are a few meal suggestions you can follow to calm Pitta dosha: 

    Breakfast 

    Pitta time starts at mid-morning. If Pitta is elevated, breakfast should not be skipped. Use of grains and dairy with sweet nuts like almonds and raisins are good options. 

    Carbohydrates provide a sustained release of sugar in the blood. Barley, oats and whole wheat are good choices to include in a Pitta pacifying diet. 

    Egg whites can also be taken along with bread, but meats are better reserved for lunch. If you are not that hungry a platter of sweet fruits is a good choice. 

    When you're in need of refreshment, turn to the delightful cool lassi. It's a breeze to prepare: Simply blend one part yogurt with four parts water for about 2-3 minutes until it turns beautifully creamy. For an extra kick of flavor, sprinkle in just a quarter teaspoon of roasted cumin seeds before blending. 

    If you're craving something on the sweeter side, enhance your lassi with two tablespoons of whole cane sugar or your preferred sweetener, and a single drop of fragrant rose water. This transforms your drink into a sweet and aromatic treat. 

    Alternatively, you can satisfy your thirst with a zesty lime twist. Squeeze the juice of half a lime into a cup of cool water and add a pinch of cumin powder. This tangy concoction is another refreshing option to savor. 

    Lunch 

    Ideally, lunch is the main meal of the day. 

    Pitta in terms of quantity and richness is at its peak midday and more so in a Pitta dominant person. 

    A wide variety of appropriate grains like barley, quinoa, wheat, and rice can be used in various forms. Beans and vegetables also make the main contribution to a Pitta lunch and can be complemented with suitable meats if you eat them. Kitchari made of basmati rice and mung dal, with a little ghee and grated coconut, makes a delicious light meal 

    Salads can be taken liberally as side dishes. However, spices that are pungent should be avoided or used in very small quantities. 

    Fruit should not be consumed in the evening, instead it's better to eat fruits at least one hour before or after meals.5 

    Dinner 

    Dinner is ideally a smaller and lighter version of lunch. But it also needs to sustain Pitta’s active metabolism. 

    A simple but nourishing meal like a kitchari, pasta or a slightly smaller serving of lunch can work well. 

    Soups and boiled vegetables can be taken as starters so that it satisfies the Pitta digestive fire and also keeps the calorie intake low if one is watching their weight. 

    Beverages

    Room-Temperature or Cool Drinks: Opt for drinks that are neither too hot nor too cold. These are gentler on your digestive system. 

    Avoid Ice and Iced Drinks: While ice-cold beverages might be tempting, they can inhibit digestion and create toxins (ama) in your body. It's best to steer clear of them altogether. 6 

    If you would like to learn more about Ayurvedic nutrition and how different foods affect the doshas, check out this Ayurvedic course on Holistic Nutrition by Todd Caldecott. 

    Ayurveda on Diet and Nutrition for Vata, Pitta, Kapha

    Please consult a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner before trying this pitta diet. 

    References

    1. https://www.ayurveda.com/pdf/intro_ayurveda.pdf
    2. https://www.ayurveda.com/food-guidelines/
    3. (PDF) A critical review on Ayurvedic principles of Diet & Nutrition with special reference to prevention & management of lifestyle diseases Division of Manas chikitsa (researchgate.net)
    4. https://archive.org/details/TheCompleteBookOfAyurvedicHomeRemedies/page/n251/mode/2up?view=theater&q=fasting
    5. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/371155729_An_Ayurveda_approach_of_Skin_Care_wsr_to_Deha_Prakriti_Body_Constitution_A_Review_Study
    6. https://journalofethnicfoods.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s42779-019-0016-4

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