Vata Diet: Everything You Need To Know (Ayurvedic Diet Types)

Vata Diet: Everything You Need To Know

In Ayurveda, emphasis is placed on diet as a therapeutic and preventative health measure to manage one’s state of health. Following an Ayurvedic diet most appropriate for your body type is beneficial for mind, body and emotional health. Here we examine the Vata diet, a diet best suited to those with a Vata imbalance or Vata body type.

In this article, we’ll cover the following.
The Vata Diet + The Doshas
Vata Diet Food Choices
Vata Pacifying Food Chart
Warm Food
Tastes That Pacify Vata
The Vata Diet Rules To Follow
Vata Diet Meal Suggestions
Vata Approved Recipes

The Vata Diet + The Doshas

Vata pacifying foods help balance Vata in its aggravated state, which is more common than its depleted state. Another aspect of Vata aggravation is that it can occur due to obstruction of the flow of Vata because of Pitta or Kapha dosha. In such a state there are mixed symptoms of Pitta and Kapha aggravation along with that of a Vata aggravation. In such a case measures to remove the obstruction along with a Vata pacifying diet is advocated.

A depleted state of Vata is generally seen in Kapha aggravation which occurs in a Vata body. These conditions are rare and may demand use of foods that increase the properties of Vata. In such cases dry and light foods are used (the Kapha pacifying diet) for a short period of time until Vata regains its strength.

Vata Diet Food Choices

Vata balancing foods calm Vata by lubricating and nourishing the tissues, preserving moisture, and maintaining warmth, all the while supporting proper digestion and elimination. There are specific simple principles to follow while discovering a vata pacifying diet that works for you.

What determines the choice of foods for a Vata type? The basis of any Ayurvedic diet and therapeutics is the rule of opposites and similarities. Let’s look at what exactly these guidelines mean and the Ayurvedic principle behind the choices.

Vata is cool, dry, rough and light, so eating foods that neutralize these qualities can help to balance excess Vata. Choose foods that are warm, moist, oily, smooth and nourishing.

Vata Diet Food Chart

Warm Food

What exactly does warm food mean? Usually it is the temperature of the food, but in Ayurveda we are also talking about heating spices or foods with heating properties. Both are generally good for pacifying Vata. The beauty of heating spices is that you can prepare foods that are Vata aggravating with the use of heating and grounding spices like ginger and garlic. You can cook beans so that they do not aggravate vata as much as they would originally. On the other hand, it is best to avoid foods with cooling properties and foods taken directly from the refrigerator like cold drinks. Even precooked refrigerated foods that are warmed in a microwave or otherwise are deficient in prana or life essence. These are not recommended. Freshly cooked food is always preferred.

Oily and moist foods are beneficial for Vata pacification.What does this mean? Well a Vata diet should make use of oil and butter and ghee liberally and that is what is an oily food. But many foods which do not appear oily can still pacify Vata. Foods that have grounding properties that counter the Vata properties of lightness like zucchini, squash and wheat are also good for Vata. Drying foods like popcorn should be avoided.

What happens when we eat foods with heavy properties in an attempt to counteract the light property of Vata? Overeating foods with ‘heavy’ properties like deep fried snacks or foods like root vegetables actually aggravates Vata. This is due to the derangement of the delicate digestion that a Vata person has.

Another point to ponder in a Vata diet is the choice of foods that are smooth in texture over foods that are rough in texture. So many raw fruits and vegetables that are rough in texture are Vata aggravating contrary to smooth textured fruits like bananas and vegetables like squash. Cooking can change the character of many foods and make them Vata pacifying. A pureed vegetable soup is one example.

Tastes That Pacify Vata

Vata is pacified by the sweet, sour, and salty tastes and aggravated by the pungent, bitter, and astringent tastes. Knowing about these tastes allows you to design a Vata pacifying diet without having to constantly refer to extensive lists of foods to favor and avoid.

Sweet, sour and salty tastes pacify Vata and the other three tastes — astringent (salad leaves/raw banana), pungent (pepper) and bitter tastes aggravate Vata. Let’s take a look at them in detail.

The Sweet Taste

Sweet is cooling and grounding and in moderation, promotes longevity, strength, and healthy bodily fluids and tissues. Its heavy, oily, moist qualities tend to slow down digestion. It’s often suggested in Ayurveda to eat dessert first as an appetizer when the digestive or metabolic fire is at its peak. The sweet taste is found in foods like most fruits, most grains, root vegetables, milk, ghee, fresh yogurt, eggs, nuts, seeds and most oils except mustard. The sweet taste due to its cooling, grounding, nourishing, strength building, and satisfying properties is the most important constituent of a Vata pacifying diet. Please note that when we talk about the sweet taste we are talking about foods with a naturally sweet taste, and/or a sweet post digestive effect. These include sweet potatoes, white rice and wheat. Refined sugars and confectionery tend to increase the restlessness of a Vata prakriti person.

The Sour Taste

The sour taste awakens the mind and senses, stimulates digestive juices, improves digestion, eliminates excess wind and pacify Vata when taken in moderation, preferably along with the sweet taste. Lemon juice , tamarind, sauerkraut, apple cider vinegar and sour sweet fruits like orange, pineapple and kiwi can be included in the Vata diet in moderation.

The Salty Taste

The salty taste stimulates the appetite and digestion. It helps retain moisture and supports proper elimination. It also improves the flavor of many foods. The main source of the salty taste is salt in its various forms – sea salt, rock salt and common table salt. It is to be used in very small quantities.

It can alter the properties of food. Specifically it can help with the digestion of Vata aggravating foods. It will minimally aggravate Vata as in a salad dressed with rock salt.

The Pungent Taste

Many spices are of the pungent taste and due to their hot property they are Vata pacifying in many instances. But as the pungent taste is hot, dry and light, too much of it is extremely drying to the system, exacerbating the rough quality. It therefore disturbs Vata.

The Bitter Taste

The bitter taste is cooling, rough, drying, light, and generally reducing. It possesses all qualities that tend to aggravate Vata. It is generally lacking in our diet due to its unpalatable taste. Hence it can come handy when there is depletion of Vata due to increase of Kapha. No doubt why dark chocolate is so popular among the masses as it gives that bitter taste. Spices like turmeric and fenugreek seeds can add the bitter taste to our food without aggravating Vata.

The Astringent Taste

The astringent taste is dry, cold, heavy and rough in nature and thus aggravates Vata. A raw banana, beet root, artichoke and jack fruit are all examples of astringent taste.

The Vata Diet Rules To Follow

As a Vata person you might have experienced that even after following a Vata diet, you sometimes face Vata disorders. The reason could be wrong eating habits. When it comes to pacifying Vata, how we eat may be just as important as what we eat. Vata gets pacified if you make it a point to eat in a peaceful environment, allowing enough time to chew the food. Eating three meals at regular intervals futher reduces Vata and helps to strengthen delicate digestion. Sometimes, it is impossible to avoid all vata-aggravating foods. When that is the case simply cook them thoroughly with oil or ghee and spice them appropriately using tastes like sour to digest them properly. Being a Vata an all-out fasting on water, fluids or raw fruits and vegetables is not for you. But you can have pureed soups, cooked grains and Vata pacifying dishes like kitchari with a little ghee. This will give the effect of fasting without aggravating Vata.

Vata Diet Meal Suggestions

Still not clear what you can have to tame Vata? Well here is a sample of three meals which tame Vata.

Breakfast

Vata personalities have a very delicate energy reserve which tends to go down very fast in absence of food. So after an overnight fasting, breakfast becomes essential for Vata people to maintain their energy levels. The breakfast options should be such that they are grounding and have Vata pacifying properties and also at the same time are easy on digestion.

Some examples:

  • Hot cereals with milk (as milk is grounding)
  • Eggs with a multigrain or whole wheat bread, buttered toast
  • Tortilla roll with vegetables sauteed in a little butter or ghee.
  • A rice or semolina pudding garnished with nuts or fried seeds
  • Warm almond milk sweetened further with a few dates and garnished with cinnamon and ‘Kesar’ (saffron)

READ MORE: An Ayurveda Breakfast: 10 Healthy Breakfast Ideas From Ancient Indian WellnessGolden Porridge: A Turmeric Breakfast Bowl Recipe

Lunch

Lunch is the most important meal in all body types as digestive fire is at its peak at this time. A lunch can include sauteed or boiled vegetables with cooked lentils, served with whole grain pasta, tortillas, rice or noodles. Fats like olive oil, butter or ghee should be used in cooking. Soups and stews also have a place in lunch and are good starters in the winter season. Salad is generally best avoided by Vata but a little salad with oily or sour dressings can be taken. Split moong dal with basmati rice or sauteed okra with shredded coconut and a little cilantro, eaten with whole wheat bread or tortilla or flatbread is another good choice.

Dinner

Dinner is to be consumed at least 2 hours prior to sleeping and should be lighter than lunch. As it is Kapha time (the diurnal variation of Dosha), a small appetizer like a spiced soup or Indian dishes like ‘rasam’ are perfect before the main course. All options mentioned for lunch can be had for dinner but in a smaller quantity.

READ MORE: Butternut Squash Benefits + Vata And Pitta Pacifying Soup RecipeVata And Pitta Pacifying Pumpkin Black Bean Side Dish, Vata And Kapha Pacifying Broccoli Salad, Vata And Pitta Pacifying Prize Peach Cobbler RecipeSimple + Delicious Flatbread Recipe

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Deepak Bhanot, BAMS is a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner with 20 years of experience. He specializes in dietary and lifestyle consultation as per one's Prakriti. He has an advanced specialization in Nutrition and Health Education as well as Preventive and Promotive Health Care. He is a certified Panchakarma and Ayurvedic Acupressure therapist.

19 comments

  1. Hi Deepak, I have a lot of pain in my shoulders and neck. I’ve been to many doctors and had MRI and X-Rays done, but they tell me that nothing is wrong with me. I am predominantly Vata, and secondarily Pitta, with a small amount of Kapha. I also have swollen legs by the end of each day.

    • mm

      Hi Ambuja, The doctors not finding anything radiologically is a good sign that you are not having any structural anomaly in the spine.
      However, the aggravation of Vata, which cannot be measured in most cases, can cause these symptoms. So following a Vata pacifying diet and lifestyle and using procedures like snehana (oleation) and swedana (sudation) and also basti ( medicated enemas) can be thought of along with appropriate herbs. Please contact an ayurvedic centre near you for assessment and advice as one has to assess if the Vata is aggravated independently or is ‘enveloped’ by Pitta or Kapha. Avoidance of aggravating causes is also an important part of the management.

  2. Hello, I am a Vata (I am a male, 6ft tall, about 130lb), and I read that Ayurveda portions should be what you can fit in your 2 hands if you cup them together. I have been trying to do this for about a week but I’m finding that I am getting hungry, tired, weak, jittery, and agitated about 1.5-2 hours after my meals, but I endure until the 4 hour mark. But I just don’t see how this is sustainable for me. What should I do about my food intake (portions, frequency etc)? Thanks

    • mm

      Hi Graham, The amount of diet as mentioned by you is for individuals having normal life style wit a little activity. It can vary with activity. Obviously if you are physically more active than others having the same dosha, your requirement for the food will be more as you would burn out the food faster. However if you have a normal lifestyle like an average working persona and are still feeling like not having enough food, then probably you have to look at the properties of foods which you are consuming. Incorporation of healthy fats like olive oil, ghee , coconut oil, sesame oil etc to your food and also more of proteins will make the food stay in your tummy for longer and keep you satisfied.

  3. Hi, I am vata/pitta and am trying to lose the weight I gained in menopause ( I need to drop 15 pounds). I am very aware of what I eat and avoid processed food. I am frustrated because I find the information a bit overwhelming. I know that one should not eat leftovers.I did drop a few pounds on a kichadi fast I recently did, but I need to lose more. Please advise this overwhelmed vata girl. Thank you!

    • mm

      Hi J, Weight loss is a time consuming process. There are no short cuts. It requires a persistent discipline in eating and a healthy lifestyle. You may follow the broad guidelines for Vata Pitta diet given in another blog post and do regular work outs. A daily oil massage and eating at regular intervals are must. Yoga and meditation to relax yourself and to have a proper sleep is must. Minimizing alcohol, if you are taking it, will help.

  4. Hi….I am suffering from Rheumatoid Arthritis .Please suggest diet

  5. Doctor i have right side neck pain and pain in upper back and shoulders I also have a ver stiff neck and tenderness since 3 years. My mri and xray and blood work are all fine. Now the doctor says it is fibromyalgia I am pita vaata type dosha

  6. i am suffering from nerve pains, body pains, i am eating very normal like cooked vegetables and brown rice, some days, i will be good with the same diet. but some days it will have adverse effect, even though i change diet nothing will be effective, after that it sets automatically, and i cannot tell my type of body, i feel it is tri dosha, in such case what to eat and what not, recently i am under the treatment of ibs-d and dysphagia, i feel always something stuck in throat, after eating i feel like curd is there in my throat, but after exercise like walking it subsides, but after i drink water it comes back. i cannot explain my condition, i have been given antidepressant, vitamin b100, iron capsules. i dont want to use any of them, i want to maintain good diet and get rid of all the problems, i kept food dairy, which really proves waste, when i eat something today, if i feel good and if i eat the same thing on the other day the condition varies. even i cannot assess myself what is good and what is bad.

  7. I am kappa-Vata

    I stay away from most of the foods recommended. But I’m surprised I need to consume more oils? Why is that?
    I am currently suffering from infertility. Trying to conceive naturally.

    • mm

      Hi Angel, Thanks for asking this interesting question. Oils though akin to the oiliness of Kapha, have a property that pacifies Vata without aggravating Kapha as per master Charaka. So in any dosha type, irrespective of the fact that Vata is primary or secondary dosha, one needs to always ensure that Vata is not aggravated. Thus fats in ofrm of oils are recommended in a Kapha Vata and Vata Kapha dosha type.

  8. Hi, I am a Vata but I was surprised to see that most of the things to avoid, are what I like !! I am trying to reduce the swelling in my feet and ankles so turned to Ayurveda to see if there was anything I cann do to help reduce the swelling.

    • mm

      Hi Patricia, It may be possible that you have secondary dosha along with Vata, that might be prompting you to have Vata aggravating foods. The swelling as per Ayurveda can laso be due to all three doshas ( when they get pathological). Please consult an Ayurvedic practitioner or your doctor for a definitive diagnose.

  9. Thanks for the good information
    I have IBS and it developed , I have pain in the yoni , the pain feels like stapping knife. Also a lot of gas and bloating. The pain located in my lower lift abdomen. With feeling if numbness when I set for too long .

    • mm

      Hi Sophia, Thanks for liking the post. The lower abdomen, and the organs there in, fall under region dominated by Vata and thus the symptoms you are telling seem to be directly related to vata aggravation.
      Oil massage,fomentation, oil enemas alternating with herbal tea enemas and in some cases keeping a swab of Gauze piece dipped liberally in Vata pacifying oil in the Yoni are external measures which are found effective in such cases. I know all this can be done only at an Ayurvedic center, but to begin with you can go with massaging the abdomen with a warm sesame oil/ or a vata pacifying oil like iYura Rujahari oil and sitting in a warm water tub to begin with. Have hot water an hour after every meal. Sip it slowly. Contact an Ayurvedic practitioner near you for further help on herbs etc.

  10. Many Thanks for providing such a useful info.

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