Ayurveda Nutrition Advice for Vata
Vata is balanced by a diet of freshly cooked, whole foods that are soft or mushy in texture, rich in protein and fat, seasoned with a variety of warming spices, and served warm or hot. These foods calm Vata by lubricating and nourishing the tissues, preserving moisture, and maintaining warmth, all while supporting proper digestion and elimination.
Vata is cool, dry, rough and light, so eating foods that neutralize these qualities – foods that are warm, moist, oily, smooth, and nourishing – can help to balance excess Vata.
Favor Warm over Cold
The warm quality can be emphasized by eating foods that are warm in temperature, foods that have a warming energetic, and by using warming spices generously.
On the other hand, it is best to avoid foods with a cooling energetic, cold and frozen foods or drinks, carbonated drinks, large quantities of raw fruits and vegetables, and even leftovers that have been kept in the refrigerator or freezer. The cold quality is inherently increased in these foods, even if they are served hot.
Favor Moist and Oily over Dry
Vata’s dryness is offset by eating cooked rather than raw foods, by cooking and garnishing foods with generous amounts of high-quality oils and by staying hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids, ideally warm or hot.
In addition, moist foods like berries, melons, summer squash, zucchini, and yogurt help offset Vata’s dry quality, as can hydrate preparations such as soups or stews.
Oily foods like avocado, coconut, olives, buttermilk, cheese, eggs, whole milk, wheat, nuts and seeds are generally supportive as well.
Avoid exceptionally drying foods like popcorn, crackers, white potatoes, beans, and dried fruits.
Favor Grounding, Nourishing, and Stabilizing Over Light
Favor foods that offer solid, stabilizing sources of energy and deep nourishment to the physical body. Generally, these foods will naturally taste sweet. Cooked grains, spiced milk, root vegetables, stewed fruits, nuts, and seeds are good examples. Stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine, and hard alcohol should be avoided, as they are generally not supportive of Vata’s need to stay grounded and stable.
Favor Smooth over Rough
There’s a reason that raw fruits and vegetables are sometimes called roughage; their fibrous structure gives them a very rough quality.
Even cooked, some foods like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, dark leafy greens, and many beans are exceptionally rough and should be avoided.
Conversely, eating foods and preparations that are smooth in texture – things like bananas, rice pudding, hot cereal, hot spiced milk, and purée soups – can really help to soothe Vata’s roughness.
Vata is pacified by the sweet, sour, and salty tastes and aggravated by the pungent, bitter, and astringent tastes. Understanding these tastes allows us to better navigate a Vata pacifying diet without having to constantly refer to extensive lists of foods to favor and avoid.
- Favor naturally sweet foods like fruits, most grains, root vegetables, milk, fresh yogurt, eggs, nuts, seeds, most oils, and vata-pacifying meats
- Emphasizing the sweet taste does NOT require us to eat large amounts of refined sugar or sugary sweet foods.
- Favor sour additions like a squeeze of lemon or lime juice, a splash of vinegar, a side of kimchi or sauerkraut, a bowl of miso, a slice of cheese, or a dollop of sour cream.
- Sour fruits like green grapes, oranges, pineapple, and grapefruit are also appropriate when eaten alone, and in moderation.
- The salty taste is almost singularly derived from salt itself. But favoring the salty taste does not mean that your food should taste as if it’s being cured. In fact, salt is already over-emphasized in the typical western diet. Simply being mindful of including savory flavors and ensuring that your food has some salt in it will likely be sufficient.
- Pungent is a spicy, hot flavor like that found in chilies, radishes, turnips, raw onions, and many spices.
- The bitter taste predominates bitter greens (like kale, dandelion greens, collard greens, etc.), and is also found in foods like bitter melon, Jerusalem artichokes, burdock root, eggplant, and chocolate.
- Legumes are classically astringent in taste – adzuki beans, black-eyed peas, pinto beans, soybeans, etc.
- The astringent taste is also found in some fruits, vegetables, grains, and baked goods – things like apples, cranberries, pomegranate, artichokes, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, rye, rice cakes and crackers.
Breakfast is a critical meal when vata is elevated. After an overnight fast, vata needs real nourishment and a hearty breakfast is generally very stabilizing.
- A power-packed meal of eggs and buttered toast is always a winning choice for vata and can be served with sautéed veggies or avocado, if desired.
- Hot Cereals – things like oatmeal, rice pudding, cream of rice, and cream of wheat – are also excellent choices. For a richer, creamier breakfast, the grains can be cooked in milk. To make this meal even more vata friendly, garnish it with sliced almonds, and flax seeds, sweeten it with honey or maple syrup, and add warming spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves and cardamom.
- Another delectable breakfast is a date and almond shake, made from soaked dates, soaked and peeled almonds, and boiled milk – blended together with warming spices like cinnamon and nutmeg.
Ideally, lunch is the main meal of the day, meaning it’s the largest and the most nourishing of the three. Hearty grains, steamed and sautéed vegetables, appropriate breads, soups and stews are excellent building blocks for lunch. This is also the best time to enjoy a small salad, if you must have one.
Dinner is ideally a bit smaller and lighter than lunch. Soups, stews, or a smaller serving of lunch often fit the bill. Try:
- Carrot soup with quinoa, asparagus, and a buttered tortilla.
- Baked and buttered sweet potatoes with French onion soup, and green beans.
Get more information about our Special Fit&Slim Vata Menu, 14th – 18th of March