Best foods to balance vata digestion
One of the key ways to balance the doshas is through what we eat and drink each day, and just as importantly- how and when. Ayurveda (the ancient Indian system of medicine) really considers the right food and good digestion as being at the heart of good health.
Vata types or those with aggravated vata can often experience an erratic appetite with bloating, indigestion and sensitivities. You can balance vata’s cold, airy nature by increasing the opposite qualities- so, more warmth, moisture, oil and earthiness. If you don’t know which of the three doshas you are, take our dosha quiz to find out.
In general, cooked foods are more easily digestible for this type than raw food, for example, a bowl of warm porridge is easier on the digestion than a bowl of cold muesli. A warming stew easier than a big bowl of salad with dry crackers.
Add good quality oils to your diet, like sesame, hemp seed, olive oil or coconut oil to help stop the body getting too dry as well. You can make a raw salad more digestible adding an oily dressing too.
Eating to suit vata dosha
The following guidelines are to help you begin to recognise the qualities of different foods and start to appreciate which foods are best to balance vata dosha:
Establish a routine of regular meal times, ideally three or four times a day
Try not to get distracted while you are eating and instead create a calm, relaxed atmosphere for meal times so you can concentrate on your meal
Favour foods that are warm, soupy, heavy and oily- think soups, stews, casseroles and other one-pot dishes
Some key warming herbs for vata to help balance your digestion, are cumin, fennel, dill, black pepper, turmeric, cardamom and cinnamon. You can use these herbs liberally in your cooking, or enjoy in a cup of Feel New tea.
Favour foods that taste sweet, sour and salty as these are most nourishing for you. Note that this doesn’t mean refined sugar but foods which are considered energetically sweet such as rice, spelt, kamut, oats, quinoa, root vegetables, sweet fruits and organic dairy
Try to minimise white sugar. The best sweeteners for this type are honey, molasses, barley malt and maple syrup
Increase your intake of good quality natural oils - hemp, sesame, olive, sunflower and flax are all ideal. Cooking with butter and ghee helps to moisten dry foods but avoid fried and greasy foods
Stimulants such as alcohol, coffee, black tea and fizzy drinks can all be aggravating for this type. Take plenty of warm water and spicy and relaxing herbal teas. A hot cup of stimulating Pukka's Three Ginger tea first thing is a great way to start the day and wake up your digestion if you’re a vata person. Pukka's Relax blend was also formulated with vata dosha in mind, as it contains herbs to help calm nervous anxiety.
Minimise foods that are cold, dry and hard - such as crackers, rice cakes, crisps, and dried fruits and nuts (unless they have been soaked)
Minimise foods that are very spicy such as chillies, bitter like coffee or astringent like raw apples, most beans/pulses except mung beans, red lentils and marinated tofu
Avoid raw food, cold and frozen foods as much as possible, such as ice cream and iced drinks.
Don't know your dosha? Take our dosha to find out.
Author: Jo Webber
Head of Herbal Education
As a B.Sc. qualified Ayurvedic practitioner and yoga teacher, Jo is passionate about bringing these two ancient sciences together to help people feel empowered about their health. Jo has put her post-graduate certificate in education to good use, co-founding the Ayurveda academy to help others learn of the wonders of Ayurveda. Jo has also earned a Masters degree in human sciences from Oxford University and has taught in several schools
B.Sc. qualified Ayurvedic practitioner and yoga teacher
Years of experience:
20 years as a Hatha yoga teacher/ayurvedic practitioner
Member of the Ayurvedic Practitioners Association