Eating in accordance with our unique constitution is one of the fundamental ways of promoting overall health and vitality. Not only does our choice of ingredients affect our digestive capacity, but also the way in which they are prepared and consumed.
Qualities to Favour
When looking to create a balancing and supportive diet for your constitution, Ayurveda teaches that we must look at the qualities of our predominant dosha and then incorporate opposing qualities in our food. Vata is dry, cold, brittle, rough and light in nature. Therefore we should plan meals that are warm, moist, smooth, and nourishing in order to create balance.
When planning a meal that includes these qualities, we should consider the nature of the individual ingredients as well as the manner in which we cook or prepare them. For more information on specific foods to favour see my article on 5 dietary tips for vata dosha.
For those with a vata predominant constitution, breakfast is a non-negotiable. After a night of fasting, vata requires good nourishment in order to stabilize and find balance. Vata benefits from regularity of meals that are soothing and comforting, yet not too heavy and taxing on the digestive system.
Hot cereals, such as oatmeal, rice porridge, or cream of wheat, are an excellent breakfast choice for vata dosha. Gently cooking the grains so they are moist, warm and partially broken down makes them easier to digest. Adding warming digestive spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg or ground ginger will also aid the digestive process while simultaneously providing flavor. Cooking your oatmeal in milk increases the richness and creaminess of the cereal. For extra nutritional goodness and beneficial oils for vata pacification, consider adding flaked almonds, cashews or other oily nuts and seeds. Maple syrup or honey can be added for sweetness.
For a savory breakfast option, buttered toast with sauteed veggies, or avocado toast, are both supportive of vata dosha. Ensuring that there are enough healthy oils to nourish the dryness of vata and opting for a warm meal will aid pacification of aggravated vata and increase energy levels for the day ahead.
Favor a warm and soothing breakfast over anything cold, raw or dry. Take time to prepare a nourishing meal and eat in a relaxed environment, allowing sufficient time to digest before rushing into your day.
According to Ayurveda, lunch is the most important meal of the day. In the middle of the day, when the sun is at its peak height, so too is our internal digestive fire (agni) at its strongest. Therefore this is the ideal time to eat the largest and most nourishing meal of the day.
For those with a vata constitution, lunch is the time when you are best able to digest grains, leafy greens, and root vegetables. While vata-types should try to mainly stick to warm and cooked foods, if you have a craving for salad, lunch is the best time to eat raw food as agni is best equipped to digest it at this time.
Hearty stews, cooked grains, and sauteed or roasted vegetables are an excellent basis for a vata pacifying lunch. For example:
- Daal cooked with plenty of digestive spices, such as ginger, turmeric, cumin, and coriander, served with rice or whole grain flatbread and ghee.
- A hearty vegetable stew with quinoa
- Whole grain or rice pasta with pesto, olives, and wilted spinach
- Roasted roots (such as beets, sweet potatoes, and squash) with grains and a small side salad (with a high quality olive oil dressing)
Dinner should be the lightest meal of the day. However, it should still be sustaining and nourishing. Eat early, with plenty of time (at least 2 hours) to digest before going to bed. A smaller quantity of the lunch menu would suffice for dinner. Alternatively you could choose a thick creamy soup with hearty bread and butter, kitchari, or a baked potato with sauteed veggies.
In our modern fast-paced lives, many of us are turning more and more to quick food on the go. Many of us have become habitual snackers. Ayurveda recommends committing to making time for three proper, freshly prepared meals daily, and to avoid grazing here and there throughout the day. However, there are times where the need to grab a quick bite on the go is unavoidable.
When it comes to pacifying vata dosha, three structured daily meals are essential for balance. Nevertheless, due to the erratic nature of vata agni, a small snack mid-afternoon can help to keep blood-sugar levels balanced, and maintain energy and focus throughout the rest of the day. Some healthy snack ideas for vata dosha include:
- Soaked dried fruit, such as apricots
- Dates with almond or peanut butter
- Stewed fruits
- Guacamole with flatbread