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.
One of the fundamental principles of Ayurveda is that like-increases-like and opposites create balance. For example, if you experience a lot of internal heat, consuming energetically heating foods (such as chillies) or engaging in heating activities (such as high intensity cardio training) will only exacerbate the problem.
For pitta-types, in order to maintain balance within our body, it is important to favor foods and activities that are cooling and calming in nature. This concept may seem very simple and self-explanatory, but when it comes to our dietary choices, we frequently choose flavor over health. Having a clear idea of the qualities that we should be looking to incorporate more of in our diet can help us make beneficial decisions for short-term and long-term health and well-being.
Pitta has the qualities of hot, light, sharp, oily. Therefore, when looking to balance pitta, we should look to incorporate foods that are cooling, mild, grounding, and dry in nature. Those with a pitta constitution should favour sweet, bitter, and astringent tastes and reduce or minimize pungent, salty, or sour flavors. For more information on specific foods to favour see my article, 5 dietary tips for pitta dosha.
When pitta dosha is elevated, a hearty breakfast is essential to provide balance and energy for the day ahead. Pitta has a strong digestive fire and benefits from a breakfast that is both sweet and high in carbohydrates.
Oatmeal cooked in milk with almonds and dates is an excellent sustaining breakfast for pitta dosha, particularly during the colder months. Sauteed vegetables or avocado on wholegrain toast is another energy boosting option to satiate pitta.
During the warmer months, pitta is better able to cope with a lighter breakfast, such as a large fruit salad with coconut flakes or raisins.
Another balancing breakfast is a sweet and hearty smoothie made with milk (dairy or alternative), soaked almonds, dates and cardamom.
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. Those with a pitta constitution benefit from a lunch consisting of a variety of seasonally appropriate grains, legumes, and vegetables. Raw foods and salads are also best eaten at lunch time, as the digestive fire is in the optimal condition to process them.
Some examples of beneficial lunches for those with a pitta constitution include:
- (During the cooler months) a hearty vegetable soup or stew incorporating grains and beans (e.g. minestrone), with plenty of cooling digestive spices such as coriander, cardamom, and tumeric with a squeeze of lime juice. This can be accompanied by wholegrain bread or a flat bread.
- (During the hotter months) cold gazpacho soup
- Whole grain or brown pasta with sauteed vegetables and pesto, garnished with good quality olive oil and goat cheese
- Baked rice with preserved lemons, green olives and cumin, garnished with cilantro and served with a side salad.
Dinner should ideally be the smallest meal of the day, however it still needs to be substantial enough to sustain pitta’s ferocious digestive fire. The key to healthy digestion of the evening meal is to eat early, leaving plenty of time (at least 2 hours) before going to bed. Try to commit to eating in a calm and quiet environment, paying attention to the various flavours and textures of the meal.
A smaller quantity of one of the lunch time meals would be perfect at dinner time. Alternatively some examples of good dinner meals for pitta dosha include:
- Slow cooked risotto with peas, wilted spinach and steamed asparagus, seasoned with plenty of lemon juice
- Mixed bean chili with a baked potato and homemade guacamole
For those trying to balance pitta dosha, cooling and nourishing snacks can be greatly beneficial if hunger arises. As pitta is a strong digestive fire, it is possible that you may find yourself growing hungry between meals. Firstly, it is best to ensure that you are eating a substantive enough breakfast and lunch. If you still find that your energy begins to flag in the mid-afternoon, here are some examples of pitta pacifying snacks:
- Raw carrot, cucumber or celery sticks with hummus or homemade guacamole
- Fresh fruit
- Soaked almonds
- Energy balls made with dates, nuts and coconut flakes