Saturday, July 9, 2016

Quality of the Food to Balance Pitta Dosha

Pitta is oily, sharp, hot, light, spreading, and liquid, so eating foods that neutralize these qualities – foods that are dry, mild, cooling, grounding, stabilizing, and dense – serve to balance excess pitta. This section offers a closer look at the qualities of various foods. An improved understanding of these qualities can guide you in making specific dietary choices that will better support pitta.

Favor Cool over Warm or Hot

The cool quality can be emphasized by eating foods that are cool in temperature or that have a cooling energetic – and by using cooling spices generously. Most spices are heating in nature, so pay careful attention to which ones balance pitta (see our list of pitta pacifying spices). Raw foods tend to be naturally cooling, and pitta tends to be able to handle them better than the other doshas; so mixing in an assortment of raw fruits and vegetables is generally supportive – especially in the warmer months. On the other hand, it is best to avoid fiery hot dishes, foods with a sharply warming energetic, alcohol, and caffeine; all of these influences can increase heat.

Favor Dense, Grounding and Nourishing Over Light

While the heavy quality is the true antithesis to pitta’s lightness, Ayurveda teaches us that very heavy foods (such as deep-fried foods) are not generally supportive of optimal health. It’s better to think in terms of grounding pitta’s lightness (and heat) with sustenance – eating foods that offer solid, stabilizing sources of energy and adequate nourishment to the physical body. Generally, these foods will naturally taste sweet. Most grains, milk, root vegetables, seeds, and cooling oils are good examples. But, pitta tends to have a sharp and sometimes insatiable appetite, so it’s equally important not to overindulge. Highly processed foods such as canned foods, ready-made meals, and pastries often lack prana (vital life force), are excessively heavy, and should be avoided.

Favor Dry and Dense Over Oily or Liquid

Pitta’s liquid nature and tendency toward excess oil make drying or astringent foods like beans, potatoes, corn, millet, oats, pasta, popcorn, and most vegetables very appropriate. When cooking, use a moderate amount of a high quality oil or ghee. Reduce or eliminate especially heating oily foods like eggs, hard cheeses, olives, nuts, sour cream, and the like. If given a choice between a soupy, liquidy meal and one that is denser and drier, opt for the latter. For example, have baked tofu served over steamed greens and rice, rather than tofu miso soup.

Favor Mild over Sharp

Sharp flavors like pineapple, pickles, vinegar, and sharp aged cheeses are better replaced with milder, gentler tastes, like those found in apples, cucumbers, lime juice, and soft cheeses. Similarly, stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine, and hard alcohol are too sharp and penetrating for pitta. Substitute more stable and sustaining sources of energy.

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