“Without proper diet, medicine is of no use. With proper diet, medicine is of no need”. Ayurveda believes that most physical, emotional, mental imbalances are caused by dosha imbalances. And with proper diet and lifestyle changes, you can fundamentally balance the dosha and lead a healthier life.
The Three Tastes of Vata Dosha – Sweet, Sour and Salty
There are six tastes in Ayurveda: sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter or astringent. The tastes that work the best for balancing Vata Dosha are–
- Sweet is the most grounding and wholesome taste. As Sweet is made up of Earth and Water it has a calming effect on the nervous energy that Vata tends to possess.
- This taste is great for Vata as it is heavy and moist, adding bulk to the Vata’s slight frame and lubricating dry skin and joints.
- However, sweet taste does not mean only desserts! The sweet taste abounds in foods such as carbohydrates like wheat, rice, grains, oatmeal, fresh/dried fruit and even dairy like milk, cheese etc.
- The sour taste is comprised of the elements earth and fire. Its warming quality fires up the appetite and digestion leading to more effective elimination of waste and toxins from the body. Vata often needs a helping hand when it comes to a weak digestion. The sour taste has moistening properties that serves the ‘dry’ Vata well.
- Sour foods include lemons, limes, plums, vinegar, and pickled and fermented foods.
- The salty taste is comprised of fire and water and tends to be a little heavy and moist. Its grounding and moistening properties are just what Vata needs to pacify the ‘wind’, hydrate and thus helping them to center.
- Salt stimulates digestion, helps maintain electrolyte balance, softens tissues, and has a mild laxative effect when taken in moderation.
- Salty foods that work are Seaweed, salted nuts, olives and conserved/preserved foods.
The tastes to reduce or avoid – Pungent, Bitter, Astringent
- Katu is the hottest of all the rasas and it is made up of fire and air. It significantly increase air and unbalances Vata Dosha
- Pungent foods include: fresh ginger, hot peppers, onions, garlic, mustard and hot spices.
- Air and Space are the qualities that comprise this rasa, giving it cool and drying qualities. Best to avoid for Vata as it increases the dryness and air.
- The Bitter taste abounds in foods such dark leafy greens, broccoli, sprouts, beets and herbs such as turmeric and fenugreek.
- Air and Earth comprise this Rasa/Taste. Cool, dry, and light, the astringent rasa has a cooling effect making it bad for Vata. To identify ‘Astringent’ taste, think of things that leaves your mouth ‘dry’ and needing water after eating.
- The astringent taste abounds in foods such as: beans and legumes, broccoli and cauliflower, green grapes, cranberries, pomegranates, alfalfa sprouts, and okra.
Principles of food that help tame Vata Dosha
- All soothing foods are good for settling disturbed Vata. Vata people should take food that is warm, moderately heavy texture, not too dry, soothing, nourishing, and rich with added butter and fat.
- Foods to eat: Use foods such as: warm milk, cream, butter, warm soups, stews, hot cereals, and fresh baked bread. Since Vata is a cold dry dosha, warm, nourishing foods such as these are good for stabilizing Vata.
- Foods to avoid: On the other hand cold foods such as cold salads, iced drinks, raw vegetables and fruits and greens are not very good for persons with Vata imbalance.
- Best Fats: OILs are very good for Vata, both for cooking and applying externally as it pacifies the air. Nut butter is another fat that works very well for Vata dosha as its oily,heavy nature settles the dosha.
- Staples: In general, ‘good and heavy’ carbohydrates are good for Vata. The recommended choices are – Wheat, cooked oatmeal, Rice (cooked and not puffed), Semolina, noodles/pasta (preferably brown), quinoa and amaranth.
- Vegetables:In general eat cooked vegetables, with juicy sweet vegetables being the best. Avoid raw or frozen vegetables, cold salads in general. Veggies that are good for Vata are:Asparagus, beets, carrots, cucumber, green beans, pumpkin, squashes, watercress.
- Dairy:All dairy is good in moderation. However, avoid having it cold (i.e. cold milk, ice creams, cold cheeses etc.). A good way to drink milk would be warm with few warming spices like cinnamon or nutmeg.
- Meat: White meat or seafood in small quantity. Avoid Red meat.
- Main meal:Breakfast is highly recommended for Vata Dosha. Use hot cereals such as cream of rice or wheat or any other breakfast that is warm, milky, and sweet. Warm milk is good. You can add a little sugar or honey to it if you prefer.
- Drinks: Vata dosha should have warm or hot water instead of ice water and drinks or hot or herbal tea with snacks in the late afternoon. Avoid drinks with high caffeine as it disturbs Vata.
- Snacks: Best snacks for Vata is salted nuts that are heavy and oily as opposed to dry salty snacks. Avoid eating candies as it disturbs Vata.
- Fruits:All sweet fruits are Ok for Vata. Avoid unripe fruits and fruits like cranberries, figs etc. as they are astringent.
- Spices: Warming spices like cinnamon, cardamom, cumin, ginger, cloves, black pepper in moderation. Avoid extremely hot spices like cayenne pepper.
Remember the golden rules in regard to food; eat only when hungry; eat small meals; eat your last meal at least four hours before bedtime; and eat food chosen from the food listfrom your Dosha. Meals should not be consumed when anxious, stressed, or depressed. If you are hungry before bed then take suitable fruits only.
Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only. Always seek the advice of qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, fitness, or other health program.