Written by John Immel,
Vata individuals tend towards lightness and need more nurturing foods rich in sweet taste, oil, and salt. Other body types may be jealous of the delicious food recommended for a Vata diet. Sweet taste does not mean sugar, which is actually overstimulating for Vata. In Ayurveda, sweet refers to nourishing foods like root vegetables, animal products, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. Foods should be warm, moist, and heavy, yet easy to digest - something like a root vegetable soup, or grandma's chicken soup, for example.
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Vata tends toward dryness, which is often the first sign of Vata imbalance. If you are Vata, hydrate your body before sitting down to eat. Stomach acid, enzymes, and bile all come in liquid form. If you are not adequately hydrated a half an hour in advance of a meal, you'll lack the 2/3rd liter of fluid necessary to digest your meal, and may experience fullness after only a few morsels. Dryness often causes gas, bloating, and constipation. Aside from hydrating with water, sour and salty tastes are the juicy flavors to favor. Add good quality oils like ghee to your diet and regularly massage your skin with oil.
Vata tends to be cold and deficient. The blood of a Vata person may be anemic and lacking umph. This lack of umph also weakens digestion since the digestive organs are fueled by blood. Blood builders like red meat, raisins, eggs, and saffron may be helpful.
A Vata person's metabolism may be low due to exhaustion. As a result, their food doesn't get broken down fully. This begins a chain reaction where nutrients don't get absorbed, further weakening the blood. Bad bacteria grow in the unabsorbed food, causing gas and bloating. This is not the kind of dinner party we're looking for.
Vata individuals should avoid foods that are cold and difficult to digest, such as legumes, raw food, brassicas like broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage. Add warmth by adding mild spices and serve food hot. Hinvastak churna, ginger, and black pepper support healthy Vata digestion. Vatas need to be sure to chew food well and be present and still while eating.
Remedies for the following imbalanced qualities:
If you don't know your body type yet, take the quizzes on Joyful Belly to find out. If you do know your body type, use these resources to balance Vata:
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About the AuthorJohn Immel, the founder of Joyful Belly, teaches people how to have a healthy diet and lifestyle with Ayurveda. His approach to Ayurveda exudes a certain ease, which many find enjoyable and insightful. John also directs Joyful Belly's School of Ayurveda , which specializes in digestive tract pathology & Ayurvedic nutrition. John and his wife Natalie recently published Explore Your Hunger: A Guide to Hunger, Appetite & Food.
John's interest in Ayurveda and digestive tract pathology was inspired by a complex digestive disorder acquired from years of international travel, including his public service work in South Asia. John's commitment to the detailed study of digestive disorders reflects his zeal to get down to the roots of the problem. His hope and belief in the capacity of each & every client to improve their quality of life is nothing short of a personal passion. John's creativity in the kitchen and delight in cooking for others comes from his family oriented upbringing. In addition to his certification in Ayurveda, John holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Harvard University.
John enjoys sharing Ayurveda within the context of his Catholic roots, and finds Ayurveda gives him an opportunity to participate in the healing mission of the Church. Jesus expressed God's love by feeding and healing the sick. That kindness is the fundamental ministry of Ayurveda as well.
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Should vata adopt a pitta diet in the summer if so how can vata support its weak digestion using pitta diet/can it?
I learned early on with ayurveda that, as a vata, one dish meals are good for me because all the various food qualities are blended together for easier digestion. My question is, would including foods that I would normally avoid help to make them more acceptable to my digestion, such as green peas, or broccoli?
I do tend to eat a lot of the vegetables which you say are not suited to Vata, i.e. broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, broad beans and peas. These are what are readily available here in Portugal, and I like them. There are not many root vegetables, only carrots and turnips. That would be boring to only east those! Kohlrabi, swede and parsnips sometimes available but not locally.
David, if you are going to eat those foods that would be the way to do it.
Vata should continue to follow a Vata pacifying diet in the summer, with some adjustments for the season. You might ease up on spices which are warming, you might use less oil in your cooking, but you wouldn't totally abandon your Vata diet for a Pitta one.