Soothe and ground your soul.
When starting a new journey, like adopting an Ayurvedic diet, it is crucial to understand the foods you should or shouldn't consume and why. This is because, according to Ayurveda, food is medicine and nourishment for your body, mind, emotions, and soul. Here is a comprehensive guide for you to understand the basics of any diet designed for Vata Dosha.
The correct diet to help correct an imbalance in Vata is focused on nourishing the body, pacifying the mind, grounding emotions, and maintaining body warmth. Since Vata is in charge of movement and elimination, an ideal diet will promote the digestive system’s health and encourage good activity in all your body.
If you need to balance your Vata Dosha or are looking for a Vata-specific diet, you are in the right place. Remember that the most important parts of changing your current eating habits to healthier ones are not only related to the ingredients you choose to consume. Here are a few essential points that you should consider.
- Eating healthy doesn’t mean depriving yourself entirely of certain foods; it’s about making better choices every meal. You can always indulge in all foods you like, just don’t make it a habit.
- Feeling good and keeping your body properly nourished is the goal of good nutrition, regardless of how your body looks.
- If you have any food allergies or severe digestive issues, you should always consult with your doctor before altering your eating habits drastically.
- Creating healthy habits involves building mindfulness and consciousness around them. Listen to your body and be aware of how it responds to change.
- Small decisions are the most significant changes, don’t try to completely transform your diet from one day to the next. Instead, make small, mindful changes and track their results. This will also make the transition more manageable and sustainable.
To further understand how a balanced diet for Vata is built, you must consider certain overall qualities that you will want to favor in your diet, not only ingredients. Balance in Ayurvedic diets is attained through counterbalancing Doshas´ qualities with their opposites. Vata is dry, light, cold, and rough; you need warm, moist, oily, and nourishing foods to balance it.
“Foods that are great for balancing Vata are, in general, sweet, sour, and salty in taste. Ayurveda considers these tastes to be medicine to increase qualities of warmth, moisture, and heaviness/groundedness to promote even digestion—which helps to balance Vata. Generally, all six tastes (sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, and astringent) are recommended for healthy digestion.” (Templeton, s.f.)
Opt for smooth, sweet, creamy, and nourishing fruits; avoid raw, dried, and unripe fruits. Eat cooked apples, ripe banana smoothies, indulge in delicious mangos and enjoy the creaminess of coconuts. Avoid cranberries, persimmons, and dried fruit without soaking it first.
Choose moist and sweet vegetables, especially roots, over raw and cold veggies. Enjoy summer and winter squash and delicious sweet potatoes. Spoil yourself with creamy avocado on fresh-baked bread, add caramelized onions to almost any preparation, and add garlic to your meals. Avoid bell peppers, excess chilis, and all fresh, green salads.
Go for sweet and mushy grains instead of dry and rough grains. Cook oats with cinnamon and add raw honey, enjoy pancakes with berries, and go crazy trying all rice types. Avoid box cereals, don’t eat tapioca, and stay away from crackers.
Try to avoid most legumes unless they are well cooked. You can also add olive oil or ghee to increase their oily quality. Opt for red lentils, a warm miso soup, or enjoy hot tofu bathed in a creamy sauce. Avoid beans and chickpeas.
“Dairy products are generally quite balancing for Vata, but it’s good to avoid highly processed preparations (like powdered milk), and especially cold dairy products. For example, boiled cow’s milk (ideally a non-homogenized variety) spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg, sweetened if desired, and served hot, is a tonic for Vata, whereas cold cow’s milk may be too difficult for many to digest. As a rule, dairy milks (cow’s milk, goat’s milk, sheep’s milk, etc.) should be taken at least one hour before or after any other food. For this reason, avoid drinking milk with meals. Almond and rice milks are good substitutes, if you need to combine milk with other foods, or if you don’t digest dairy milks well.” (Banyan Botanicals, s.f.)
All nuts are very beneficial for Vata. Of course, these must be consumed in moderation as they can be overwhelming to the digestive system. Remember that these contain high levels of fat, especially if you are on a leaner diet.
If you eat meat, favor sweet and moist meats over lighter options. Remember that fish like salmon has unique nutritional properties due to its high Omega fatty content, suitable for Vata. Try to avoid white turkey and pork.
When it comes to oils, pretty much all of them will favor Vata Dosha. Only avoid light oils like canola or flaxseed.
Although sweet flavors are beneficial to Vata, stay away from refined sugars, and limit your intake to naturally sweet foods. Avoid artificial sweeteners.
Do not overdo spices; while they are wonderful for their warming quality, too much of them can aggravate Vata. Avoid caffeine if possible.
Here are some great tips that can make your transition to a Vata specific diet more manageable:
- Choose warm food over cold. Try not to ingest things that have been in the fridge for too long nor frozen. Avoid iced drinks and carbonated beverages.
- Cook with fresh ingredients. Although you should avoid raw foods in general, having fresh produce to cook with is always better.
- Maintain yourself adequately hydrated. Choose warm and hot drinks throughout the day, like ginger-infused water. Drink at least 2 L. of water daily to offset Vata´s dry quality.
- Add enough good oils to your food. Balance Vata by ensuring you are using enough oil or ghee, especially if you are eating some raw vegetables.
- Set a schedule for your meals and follow it. To counterbalance Vata´s movement, you need to bring more structure into your routine. Try to eat three meals a day, always at the same hours. It will help regulate your digestion.
Remember to focus your awareness when cooking and eating; this helps create a more peaceful and mindful environment, particularly beneficial for Vata. Don't pressure yourself if you can't follow a perfect Vata diet. Your main goal should be nourishing your body and feeling good, it takes time to build good eating habits, and it's never a good idea to try to adopt an entirely new diet overnight. The better you eat, the better you will feel overall; and this is just one of many ways Ayurveda can help you feel amazing in your own skin.