Vata Dosha Diet [10 Ayurvedic Tips for Balance]

October 8, 2019 0 By William Morgan

I’m Claire.
Let’s talk about how we can use diet to balance
elevated vata dosha.
I’m going to tell you what a vata-pacifying
diet is, how it creates balance, and give
you ten tips for how to incorporate it into
your everyday.
Plus, there’s a bonus at the end– meal ideas
for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Let’s dig in!
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 spices, and served either warm or hot.
These foods calm vata by lubricating and nourishing
the tissues, preserving moisture, and maintaining
warmth—all while supporting optimal digestion
and elimination.
The following tips will explain some specific
principles about a vata-pacifying diet and
we hope they will empower you in discovering
what will work best for you.
Pay Attention to Overarching Patterns
Before we go any further, please understand
that following a vata-pacifying diet is a
practice far more than it is a collection
of absolutes.
No one expects you to wake up tomorrow morning
and eat a perfectly vata-pacifying diet for
the rest of your life!
Even the most recognized Ayurvedic teachers
have the occasional difference of opinion,
which can create some discrepancies between
different Ayurvedic diet and recipe resources.
The point being, successfully following a
vata-pacifying diet is not a matter of sticking
to a strict set of dos and don’ts, or getting
overly bogged down in the details.
In fact, it is often far more helpful to pay
attention to the generalities and overarching
At the end of the day, any strides that you
take to shift your diet toward being more
vata-pacifying than it currently is should
be considered wins… which brings us to our
next tip:
Make Small Adjustments
Think of the transition process as an intention
that you are holding, and also a powerful
invitation to increase your self-awareness.
We recommend that you begin by noticing where
you might be able to make small, incremental
changes in support of your healing journey—at
a sustainable pace.
From there, notice the ways in which these
small shifts are supporting you, and where
perhaps some of your current habits are costing
If you enjoy a food that is vata-aggravating,
notice how you feel when you do eat it, perhaps
keeping track in a food journal.
Does it increase the presence of vata symptoms
in your digestive tract, like gas, bloating,
or constipation?
Is there anything that you can do to serve
this food in a more vata-pacifying manner—by
adding extra oil, ghee, and digestive spices,
or by serving it hot?
And if so, do these adjustments change your
digestive experience?
Use your developing awareness to continue
to inspire one small step forward at a time,
keeping tabs on how your health and well-being
are improving.
As you continue to work with your Ayurvedic
diet and lifestyle recommendations, it is
likely that your digestive strength will improve,
which will eventually support your capacity
to digest more challenging foods.
The last tips offer ideas on how to approach
this, so now I’d like to introduce the qualities
that you’ll want to favor in your diet,
and by contrast, the qualities that will tend
to be inherently vata-aggravating.
By nature, vata is cool, dry, rough and light,
so eating foods that neutralize these qualities—foods
that are warm, moist, oily, smooth, and nourishing—will
help to balance excess vata.
The following tips offer a closer look at
how you can begin to recognize the qualities
of different foods.
The intention is to give you a more intuitive
grasp of what will soothe vata, without having
to constantly reference lengthy lists of foods
to favor and avoid.
Favor Warm Over Cold
The warm quality can be emphasized by eating
foods that are both energetically warming
and warm in temperature, and by using digestive
spices generously.
On the other hand, it is best to minimize
foods with a cooling energetic, such as 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, so freshly cooked is best.
But again, you have to be realistic about
what you can take on, and leftover mung dal
is going to be far more vata-pacifying than
canned black-bean soup or a raw kale salad.
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 or ghee, and by staying hydrated.
Drink plenty of fluids, ideally warm or hot—but
no cooler than room temperature.
In addition, moist foods like berries, melons,
summer squash, zucchini, and yogurt help to
offset vata’s dry quality, as do hydrating
preparations such as soups and stews.
Oily foods like avocado, coconut, olives,
buttermilk, cheese, eggs, whole milk (preferably
non-homogenized), wheat, nuts, and seeds are
generally supportive as well.
Do your best to minimize exceptionally drying
foods like popcorn, crackers, white potatoes,
beans, and dried fruits.
Favor Grounding, Nourishing, and Stabilizing
Over Light
While the heavy quality is the true antithesis
to vata’s lightness, especially heavy, dense
foods can easily overtax vata’s delicate
Eating too much in one sitting can also be
overly heavy, so try to eat regularly in order
to avert any temptation toward overeating.
In general, it’s better to think in terms
of grounding vata’s lightness with sustenance—eating
foods that offer solid, stabilizing sources
of energy and deep nourishment to the physical
Generally, these foods will naturally taste
Ideal examples include cooked grains, spiced
milk, root vegetables, stewed fruits, nuts,
and seeds.
Highly processed foods such as canned foods,
ready-made meals, and pastries are often quite
heavy, lack vital life-force energy, and are
generally quite aggravating to vata.
Similarly, stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine,
and hard alcohol should be minimized or avoided
because they tend to undermine vata’s need
for grounded stability.
Favor Smooth Over Rough
There’s a reason that raw fruits and vegetables
are sometimes called roughage; their fiber
content gives them a very rough quality.
This is why vata does well to resist large
quantities of raw vegetables, and should enjoy
raw fruits in moderation.
Even cooked, foods like broccoli, cabbage,
cauliflower, dark leafy greens, and many beans
are exceptionally rough and may be best minimized
while you are working on pacifying vata.
If you do eat them, cook these foods well
and serve them with generous amounts of butter,
oil, or ghee and add some vata-pacifying spices.
Conversely, eating foods and preparations
that are smooth in texture—things like bananas,
rice pudding, hot cereal, hot spiced milk,
root vegetables, puréed soups, and the like—can
really help to soothe vata’s roughness.
Emphasize Sweet, Sour, and Salty Tastes
Vata is pacified by the sweet, sour, and salty
Understanding these tastes allows us to make
better choices.
Favor naturally sweet foods like fruits, grains,
root vegetables, milk, ghee, fresh yogurt,
eggs, nuts, seeds, oils, and lean meats.
The sweet taste is the foundation of a vata-pacifying
It is the predominant taste in most of vata’s
staple foods, and also vata’s primary source
of nutrition.
Emphasizing the sweet taste does not require
us to eat large amounts of refined sugar or
sugary-sweet foods.
In fact, doing so tends to exacerbate vata’s
tendency to over-exert and then crash.
Naturally sweet foods tend to be grounding,
nourishing, strength-building, and satisfying.
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
separate from other foods, and in moderation.
These make great vata-pacifying snacks.
The sour taste is generally not the centerpiece
of a meal; instead, it tends to compliment
and enliven other flavors.
The sour taste awakens the mind and the senses,
improves digestion, promotes energy, moistens
other foods, and helps to eliminate excess
wind (think gas and bloating).
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.
Salt is already over-emphasized in the typical
Western diet, so simple being mindful of including
savory flavors and ensuring that your food
as some salt in it will likely be sufficient.
Ayurveda recommends a quality sea salt or
natural mineral salt over common table salt.
Salt stimulates the appetite and digestion,
helps retain moisture, supports proper elimination,
and improves the flavor of many foods.
Minimize Pungent, Bitter, and Astringent Tastes
Vata is aggravated by the pungent, bitter,
and astringent tastes.
Again, understanding these tastes allows us
to know how they affect us.
Pungent is a spicy, hot flavor like that found
in chilies, radishes, turnips, raw onions,
and many especially heating spices.
However, in moderation, most mild spices are
quite vata-pacifying.
The pungent taste is hot, dry, and light;
too much of it is extremely drying to the
system, exacerbates the rough quality, and
can therefore disturb vata.
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.
Its taste is cooling, rough, drying, light,
and generally reducing or catabolic– all
qualities that tend to aggravate vata.
The astringent taste is basically a flavor
of dryness– a chalky taste that dries the
mouth and may cause it to contract (picture
biting into a very green banana).
Legumes are classically astringent in taste–
adzuki beans, black beans, black-eyed peas,
chickpeas, pinto beans, soybeans, and so on.
Its 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
It’s dry, cold, heavy, and rough in nature,
making it understandably aggravating to vata.
Eat In A Peaceful Environment
When it comes to pacifying vata, how we eat
may be just as important as what we eat, so
this is an especially useful place to focus
if the prospect of radically changing your
diet feels overwhelming right now.
Vata is deeply soothed when we choose to eat
in peaceful environment—one where we can
offer our full attention to the act of being
Routine itself also balances vata, so the
practice of eating three square meals per
day (at about the same times each day) further
reduces vata, and helps to strengthen delicate
Practice Feeling Nourished
Visualizing your food grounding your energy,
nourishing your body, and promoting health
and vitality can go a long way toward pacifying
the negative impacts of a vata-aggravating
Experiment with taking a moment to resonate
with your food in this way, particularly if
you know you are about to ingest a food or
a meal that is especially cool, dry, light,
or rough.
Alright, so those were our top ten tips for
crafting your own vata-pacifying diet.
But here are a few bonuses… suggested meals
for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Breakfast is a critical meal when vata is
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 porridge,
cream of rice, and cream of wheat– are also
excellent choices.
For a richer, creamier breakfast, the grains
can be cooked in milk (or a substitute), or
you can add a bit of hot milk after cooking.
To make this meal even more vata-friendly,
garnish it with ghee, 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 (or your
favorite substitute)– 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,
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.
Try something like Urad and yellow mung dal
with cardamom and naan.
If you like, garnish this meal with cilantro,
cucumbers, and a dash of yogurt.
You might try kitchari with crispy okra fries.
Or, butternut squash soup, a hearty bread,
and a side salad.
Another great meal for lunch is rice pasta
or gnocchi with pesto, black olives, pine
nuts, cheese, and a side of marinated beets.
If you like, add a small green salad tossed
with an oily but stimulating dressing– like
lemon-ginger vinaigrette.
Dinner is ideally a bit smaller and lighter
than lunch.
But to soothe vata, it needs to offer adequate
Soups, stews, or a smaller serving of lunch
often fit the bill.
Try avocado fried rice and a buttered tortilla,
or our recipe for a sweet potato sabji.
And finally, if you’re looking for a detailed
list of specific foods to favor and minimize
when pacifying vata, we’ve got you covered.
Follow the link below to see our complete
vata-pacifying foods list…. remembering
of course, that this list is meant to help
you deepen your understanding and begin to
see overarching patterns—not to create a
sense of restriction or deprivation.
If food lists tend to have that effect on
you, do your best to internalize the qualitative
tips we mentioned in this video.
At the very least, embrace eating regularly
and being fully present with your meals.
That is as good a starting place as any and
can do wonders for your digestion and health.
We hope that you find this information helpful
and that applying these tips to your diet
brings you into a greater state of overall
health and well-being.
We want to hear how your journey with balancing
vata dosha through food and eating practices
go, so tell let us know in the comments below.
Thanks for watching!