Everything You Need To Know Pitta Diet
In Ayurveda, emphasis is placed on diet as a therapeutic and preventative health measure to manage one’s state of health. Following an Ayurvedic diet most appropriate for your body type is beneficial for mind, body and emotional health. Here we examine the Pitta diet, a diet best suited to those with a Pitta imbalance or Pitta body type.
The Pitta Diet + The Doshas
Pitta pacifying foods help balance Pitta in its aggravated state. On the other hand a depleted state of pitta, which is generally seen in Kapha and Vata aggravation and can concurrently happen in a Pitta body, may demand use of foods that increase the properties of Pitta. In such cases heating and light foods are used for a short period of time until the Pitta regains its strength.The Pitta balancing foods calm Pitta by cooling and hydrating the tissues, balancing moisture, and maintaining optimum temperature, all the while supporting proper digestion and elimination. There are specific simple principles that are to be followed while discovering a Pitta pacifying diet that works for you.
Pitta Diet Food Choices
What determines the choice of foods for a Pitta type? The basis of any Ayurvedic diet and therapeutics is the rule of opposites and similarities.
Pitta is hot, sharp, fluid, sour and pungent, so eating foods that neutralize these qualities can help to balance excess Pitta. These are foods that are cold (in property not in temperature necessarily), subtle, binding, bitter, and sweet. On the other hand, if Pitta needs to be strengthened, foods with similar properties to Pitta have to be included in the diet until the pitta comes into a balanced state. Pitta is pacified by consuming juicy, cooling foods with high water content. Avoid hot spicy, fried foods, sour foods like tomatoes, yogurt, vinegar and fermented foods like sour cream and alcoholic drinks. Foods should be fresh and organic, if possible. Avoid packaged, canned or bottled foods as well as processed foods whenever possible. Pitta is very sensitive to chemical preservatives and artificial additives.
Having known the broad guidelines about the Pitta diet, let us analyze what exactly these guidelines mean and the Ayurvedic principle behind the choices.
What exactly does the term cold food mean? Cold food typically refers to the temperature of the food. In Ayurveda however the hidden message is to use food laden with cooling and hydrating properties. Cold antagonizes hot and the hydrating property antagonizes the drying tendency of fiery Pitta if it goes out of balance. Some foods like coconut milk and spices like fennel seeds make even the pitta aggravating foods (like tomatoes) congenial to a Pitta prakriti or Pitta body type. So adding coconut milk to a spicy curry makes it digestible and assimilable for a Pitta prakriti person without aggravating the Pitta, which can cause acidity.
On the other hand, if we need to pacify an aggravated Pitta, it is best to avoid foods with hot and sharp properties like ginger. Even Pitta types though should not eat hot foods direct from the stove top. Ayurveda insists that even if hot foods (temperature wise) are not liked by the Pitta it is not healthy to eat food that has completely cooled down or is chilled. It is best even for a Pitta person to eat warm food.
Many foods which do not appear hot and sharp to taste can still aggravate pitta if taken in excess. Examples are fish and nuts. These foods have a property called ‘potency’ or ‘Virya’ as it is called in Ayurveda, which is hot. As such it aggravates Pitta. On the other hand, fennel seeds when chewed give a sharp taste in the mouth but due to its cooling potency, pacifies Pitta.
What happens when you eat foods with cooling and hydrating properties in order to counter the hot property of pitta? Overeating foods with cold properties like cold milk-based beverages do pacify aggravated pitta for the moment. If consumed in excess for a long time however, they disturb the optimum level of Pitta that is needed for maintaining the digestion and cause indigestion. So caution is to be exercised to not overeat such foods.