The Ayurvedic diet rests on the foundation of the three doshas of Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Just like the five elements of space, air, fire, water, and earth come together to create the doshas; the same five elements come together to create the six tastes.
These six tastes are sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, and astringent. They are found within all the foods and spices that we consume. The following elements make up each of the tastes:
- Sweet: water and earth
- Sour: fire and earth
- Salty: fire and water
- Pungent: air and fire
- Bitter: space and air
- Astringent: air and earth
Each taste can favour a dosha or help reduce the intensity of a dosha. This is why it is important to eat all of the six tastes in your diet to ensure that you try and keep your doshas in balance.
In order to pacify or reduce and balance the Vata dosha, you must eat more of the sweet, sour, and salty tastes, and, therefore, eat less of the pungent, bitter, and astringent flavours.
Since Vata is composed of air and space, it is only natural to avoid the tastes that are made from air and space.
Read: How to Settle a Vata
A Look at the Tastes
The sweet taste does not mean that you have foods with added sugar. When Ayurveda refers to sweet foods, it refers to foods that are naturally sweet and nourishing.
Most grains count as sweet, such as wheat, rice, and barley. Legumes, milk (both dairy and dairy alternatives), fruits, and cooked vegetables all count towards the sweet taste.
Some specific examples of sweet taste include peas, lentils, cream, butter, cow’s milk, oat milk, coconut, mango, dates, potatoes, carrots, and beetroot.
The sour taste is known to make your mouth water and can stimulate your taste buds as it increases appetite. All of your sour fruits count as the sour taste, such as lemons, limes, pineapple, passion fruit, and cherries.
Sour milk products and fermented foods, such as yogurt, cheese, sour cream, whey, vinegar, soy sauce, sauerkraut are all part of the sour taste.
The salty taste is more straightforward as it is literally the salty taste. Although salt should be used in moderation, everyone needs a little bit of salt in their diets as two of the chemicals that make up salt - sodium and chloride - are also two of the essential electrolytes that help keep your body hydrated.
Of course, if you consume an excessive amount of salt, it can lead to oedema or retention of fluid. In order to receive the benefits of eating salt, your food does not need to taste salty.
A Vata-Pacifying Diet
With all that said the most important principles to follow when having a Vata-pacifying diet is that you should favour warm, cooked, soft and unctuous foods. Soups are encouraged as well as having cooked grains, cereals, and vegetables.
Due to the excessive dryness qualities of Vata, it is best to avoid or greatly reduce your consumption of dry foods, raw vegetables, and having anything cold or frozen. This includes avoiding cold water and other beverages.
This brings us to what you can have. Here is an example of a Vata-pacifying diet.
By all means, this list is not an exhaustive list and for more detailed information, you should consult with an Ayurvedic practitioner.
Grains: whole-wheat, couscous, amaranth, quinoa, rice, cooked oats
Legumes: yellow split mung beans, red lentils, mung dahl, tofu, toor dahl, urad dahl
Vegetables: zucchini (courgette), asparagus, carrot, beetroot, sweet potato, radish, pumpkin, celery, parsnip, tomato, artichoke, cucumber, yellow squash, okra, tender eggplant, turnips, rhubarb, yellow and orange capsicum peppers
Fruits: All ripe sweet, juicy fruits. Dried fruit is better soaked in water before eating. Grapes, banana, melon, plums, cherries, kiwi, peaches, apricots, mangos, papaya, pomegranate, sweet pineapple, avocado, sweet oranges, grapefruit, sweet clementines, raisins, dates, prunes, honeydew, sweet strawberries, sweet blackberries, sweet raspberries, coconuts, and figs. Apples and pears, only if sweet and juicy.
Dairy: Milk (boiled and served hot), butter, ghee, cream, yogurt, soft cheeses (such as ricotta, cottage cheese and cream cheese), paneer, sour cream
Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, cashews, pistachios, walnuts, pecans, pine nuts, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, poppy seeds
Oils: Almond oil, avocado oil, castor oil, coconut oil, ghee, olive oil, sunflower oil, sesame oil
Meat: Eggs, chicken, beef, salmon, white fish, duck
Spices: Cumin, ginger, mustard seeds, hing (asafoetida), cinnamon, cardamom, clove, anise, fennel, black pepper (small amounts), rock salt, lemon juice, tamarind, coriander leaves and seeds, saffron, vanilla, nutmeg, rosemary, thyme, lemongrass, oregano, and basil. All others in small amounts.
These foods will help pacify Vata and help you feel more balanced. In addition, if you are looking to balance Vata, having a regular routine of sleeping and eating will support your Vata-pacifying diet.