A Vata diet is a diet best suited to those with a Vata imbalance or Vata body type.
In Ayurveda, the emphasis is placed on diet as a therapeutic and preventative health measure to manage one’s state of health.
Following an Ayurvedic diet most appropriate for your body type is beneficial for mind, body and emotional health.1
In this article, we’ll explain all about the Vata diet. Here’s a list of the topics we’ll cover:
Vata pacifying foods help balance Vata in its aggravated state, which is more common than its depleted state.
Vata aggravation can also occur due to obstruction of the flow of Vata because of Pitta or Kapha dosha. In such a state, there are mixed symptoms of Pitta and Kapha aggravation along with that of a Vata aggravation.
In such cases, measures to remove the obstruction along with a Vata pacifying diet is advocated.
A depleted state of Vata is generally seen in Kapha aggravation which occurs in a Vata body.
These conditions are rare and may demand the use of foods that increase the properties of Vata.
In such cases, dry and light foods are used (the Kapha pacifying diet) for a short period of time until Vata regains its strength.
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Vata balancing foods calm Vata by lubricating and nourishing the tissues, preserving moisture, and maintaining warmth. At the same time, they support proper digestion and elimination.
Follow these simple, specific principles while discovering a Vata pacifying diet that works for you.
What determines the choice of foods for a Vata type?
The basis of any Ayurvedic diet and therapeutics is the rule of opposites and similarities.
Vata is cool, dry, rough and light. Eating foods that neutralize these qualities can help to balance excess Vata.
Choose foods that are warm, moist, oily, smooth and nourishing.
Take a look at this Vata pacifying food chart. It contains foods to favor and foods to avoid if you’re following a Vata pacifying diet.
Warm food usually refers to the temperature of the food. In Ayurveda however, we are also talking about heating spices or foods with heating properties.
Both are generally good for pacifying Vata.
The beauty of these heating spices is that you can prepare foods that are Vata aggravating with the 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.
A Vata diet should make use of oil, butter, and ghee liberally. But many foods that do not appear oily can still pacify Vata. Foods that have grounding properties that counter the Vata properties of lightness are also good for Vata. These include zucchini, squash, and wheat.
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 actually aggravate Vata. Deep-fried snacks or foods like root vegetables fall into this category. 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.
Raw fruits and vegetables that are rough in texture are Vata aggravating contrary to smooth textured foods like bananas and squash.
Cooking can change the character of many foods and make them Vata pacifying. Pureed vegetable soup is one example.
Vata is pacified by the sweet, sour, and salty tastes. It is aggravated by the pungent, bitter, and astringent tastes.
Astringent foods include salad leaves and raw banana. Pungent foods include pepper.
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.
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.
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.
Due to its cooling, grounding, nourishing, strength building, and satisfying properties, the sweet taste is the most important constituent of a Vata pacifying diet.
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 sweets 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 and eliminates excess wind. It pacifies 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 should be used in very small quantities only.
Salt 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
Spices with a pungent taste have a hot property and 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.
It exacerbates the rough quality and disturbs Vata dosha.
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 in handy when there is a depletion of Vata due to an increase of Kapha.
There’s no doubt why dark chocolate is so popular. It gives that bitter taste.
Spices like turmeric and fenugreek seeds can add a bitter taste to food without aggravating Vata.
The Astringent Taste
The astringent taste is dry, cold, heavy and rough in nature and so it aggravates Vata.
A raw banana, beetroot, artichoke and jack fruit are all examples of the astringent taste.
If you’d like to learn more about Ayurvedic nutrition and how nutrition can impact your health and wellness, check out this course on Holistic Nutrition below.
Even after following a Vata diet, you may sometimes face Vata disorders. The reason could be wrong eating habits.
When it comes to pacifying Vata, how you eat may be just as important as what you 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. Spice them appropriately using the sour taste to digest them properly.
If you’re a Vata, 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.
Still not clear what you can have to tame Vata? Well here is a sample of three meals which tame Vata dosha.
Vata personalities have a very delicate energy reserve which tends to go down very fast in the absence of food. So after an overnight fast, a hearty healthy Ayurvedic breakfast is essential for Vata people to maintain their energy levels.
Breakfast should be grounding, have Vata pacifying properties and be easy on digestion.
Lunch is the most important meal in all body types as the digestive fire is at its peak at this time.
Lunch for Vata can include sauteed or boiled vegetables with cooked lentils. Serve this 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 daal with basmati rice or sauteed okra with shredded coconut and a little cilantro is another good choice. Serve it with whole wheat bread, tortilla or flatbread.
Dinner should be eaten at least 2 hours prior to sleeping and should be lighter than lunch.
As it is Kapha time, 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.
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Please consult a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner before following the Vata diet recommendations mentioned in this article.
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