Cooking for Vata is so much easier when you are aware of the basic principles that govern this dosha. The Vata diet should consist of food that is warm, moist, smooth and taken at regular intervals.
The following are the specific food qualities of Vata dosha meals.
Vata is cool, dry, rough and light, so your dietary choices should be such that this dosha is better supported.
Choose Warm over Cold
Cooked foods, served hot or warm, are ideal for nourishing you. Hearty soups, hot cereals, rice pudding and wholesome beverages such as nut milks or warm milk are excellent “comfort” foods for you. Use warming spices to cook like the ones mentioned below to aid digestion. Foods with a cooling essence, like cold and frozen foods or carbonated drinks, raw foods and even leftovers that have been refrigerated can aggravate Vata, even if they are served warm.
Choose Moist and Oily over Dry
Balance the dry quality of Vata with “heavy” foods like oils and ghee. Also, drink plenty of hydrating fluids, soups and stews – always served hot or warm, never cooler than room temperature. Moist foods like berries, melons, summer squash, zucchini and yogurt will counter Vata’s dryness. Oily foods will offset this dosha so favor foods like avocado, coconut, olives, buttermilk, cheese, eggs, whole milk (preferably non-homogenized), wheat, nuts and seeds. If you are of this composition, you should avoid drying foods like popcorn, crackers, white potatoes, beans, and dried fruits.
Choose Wholesome, Nourishing and Soothing over Light
While the heaviness is a great way to counterbalance Vata’s lightness, avoid deep-fried foods that can tax your delicate digestion. It is also important that you don’t overeat because taking in too much food in one sitting can be too heavy. Foods that are solid, deeply nurturing and ground Vata’s light energies with stabilizing sources of nourishment are preferable. Usually, these foods are sweet to taste like cooked grains, spiced milk, root vegetables, stewed fruits, nuts and seeds.
You should steer clear of canned foods, ready-made meals, and pastries which can be too heavy for them to process. Similarly, Vata-dominant people should stay away from caffeine, nicotine and alcohol as they are detrimental to your need to remain grounded and stable.
Choose Smooth over Rough
Raw produce is called roughage with good reason; and Vatas will do good to remember that. The rough quality of these foods will only challenge fickle digestive capacity of this dosha. In fact, you will benefit by resisting cooked foods that have a rough texture like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, leafy greens and certain types of beans. Smooth foods like bananas, rice pudding, hot cereal, hot spiced milk and puréed soups are apt to calm Vata’s roughness.
The three Ayurvedic tastes that help balance Vata are sweet, sour and salty. A Vata-pacifying diet will mean eating less of the bitter, pungent and astringent tastes.
- This is the principal taste in most Vata-balancing foods.
- You should consume foods that are naturally sweet like fruits, most grains, root vegetables, milk, ghee, yogurt, eggs, nuts, seeds, most oils, and Vata-pacifying meats like chicken, duck and beef.
- Take care not to consume refined sugar or sugary sweet foods. Vatas will go on a sugar high and crash quickly after.
- The sour taste is meant to complement and bring out other flavors but it is never the centerpiece of a meal itself.
- You can add some flavor to your meals with a squeeze of lemon or lime, a spot of vinegar, pickled sides, a cup of miso, a slice of cheese or a sour cream dip.
- Sour fruits like green grapes, oranges, pineapple and grapefruit are also suitable for this dosha if they are eaten by themselves or in small quantities.
- This taste is mainly a derivative of salt itself.
- Salty food does not imply food that is cured. It simply means the savory taste and preparations that contain some salt.
- This taste indicates the spicy, hot flavor found in chilies, radishes, turnips, raw onions and most spices.
- Be warned though, as too much of it can be drying and actually disturb Vata.
- This is the taste that comes in the form of bitter greens (like kale, dandelion greens, collard greens, etc.) or foods like bitter melon, Jerusalem artichokes, burdock root, eggplant and chocolate.
- Being cooling, rough, drying and light, the bitter taste will further aggravate this dosha in you.
- This taste feels behind a rough, dry feeling in the mouth – imagine sipping a strong black coffee. This is also the reason why it throws Vata off.
- The astringent taste is found in legumes (such as beans and lentils), fruits (including cranberries, pomegranates, pears, and dried fruit), vegetables (such as, broccoli, cauliflower, artichoke, asparagus and turnip), grains (such as rye, buckwheat and quinoa), spices and herbs (including turmeric and marjoram), coffee and tea.
Vata Dosha and Fasting
An empty stomach can cause Vata to go into a state of imbalance. If you wish to go for an Ayurvedic detox, simply follow a mono-diet or stick to consuming fruits.
Food Choices for Vata
Grains: Rice, wheat, quinoa, oats, amaranth (all cooked until tender)
Vegetables: Asparagus, tender greens, carrots, peas, green beans, white daikon, zucchini, parsnips, sweet potatoes (all cooked)
Fruits: Avocado, pineapple, papaya, peaches, plums, grapes, mangoes, oranges, cherries, all kinds of berries, limes and lemons, apples if stewed, coconut, fresh figs, raisins (soaked)
Lentils: Mung beans, urad dal, masoor dal, toor dal, red lentils (all cooked till soft)
Dairy: Whole milk, cream, butter, fresh yogurt (cooked into foods), lassi, cottage cheese, paneer
Oils: Ghee, olive oil, sesame oil, cold-pressed nut oils such as walnut
Herbs: Fresh ginger root, cilantro, curry leaves, parsley, basil, fennel, mint
Nuts and Seeds: Almonds (soaked and blanched), cashews, walnuts (soaked), pistachios, hazelnuts, pecans (soaked), pine nuts, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds
Spices: Ajwain, dried ginger, asafetida (hing) in small quantities, fenugreek, turmeric, cumin, clove, cardamom, coriander, fennel, black pepper, basil, Chinese cinnamon, nutmeg, mustard seed, mint, rosemary, thyme, lemon and orange zest, oregano, rock salt or sea salt, black salt, dried mango powder, pomegranate seeds or powder
Other: Rice milk, soy milk, poppy seeds, turbinado sugar, raw honey, and tofu in moderation (cooked with spices)
References: Food Choices courtesy of http://elizakerr.com/