How to Select Foods for a Pitta Ayurvedic Type

A bowl of cucumber, cantelope and blueberry salad.
A bowl of cucumber, cantelope and blueberry salad. (Image: Sarsmis/iStock/Getty Images)

Ancient Indian medicine, called Ayurveda, advises individuals to follow dietary patterns based on their dosha, or mind-body type. Pitta doshas are characterized by a medium build that tends to be more muscular. These people often feel warm, are prone to skin irritation and are easily irritated and angered. To balance these negative aspects, people with pitta doshas should follow a special diet that focuses on cooling, calming foods.

More About the Pitta Dosha

When pittas are balanced, they exhibit a strong intellect and wit and have high energy levels, big appetites and healthy digestive systems. When they become out of balance, however, pittas are prone to rashes, acne and cold sores; inflammation; red, inflamed eyes and sensitivity to light; heartburn and ulcers; and high blood pressure. Heat builds up in their bodies and minds, and they can become judgmental, impatient, critical and intolerant, with themselves and others.

Taming the Pitta

Eating certain foods and avoiding others will help pittas come back into balance. Pittas should seek out foods that are naturally cooling, juicy and sweet, such as melons, cucumbers, kale, lettuce and herbs like coriander and cilantro. Other sweet foods for pittas include whole grains, dairy, starchy vegetables and chicken and fish. Pittas also benefit by eating bitter and astringent foods such as lentils and dried beans, celery, broccoli, sprouts, grape skins, figs and pomegranates. The Chopra Center website suggests pittas favor wheat, rice, barley and oats over other grains, as well as coconut, olive, soy and sunflower oils over almond, corn, safflower and sesame oils. Nuts aggravate pitta dosha, but pumpkin and sunflower seeds are acceptable.

Foods to Avoid

Pittas should avoid foods that are spicy, salty, sour and pungent, as these aggravate pitta doshas. They should also steer clear of alcohol -- aside from an infrequent class of white wine or beer -- caffeine, red meat, shellfish, vinegar and acidic foods such as lemons and tomatoes, and spicy foods like hot pepper and cayenne. Dairy can be used to balance pitta's heat, but sour, fermented dairy such as yogurt and sour cream should be limited. Pittas should also limit their use of seasonings such as garlic, cumin, mustard seed, salt, black pepper, fenugreek, clove and ginger. Pittas can chew on fennel seeds after eating to minimize the acid in the stomach.

Other Changes to Pacify Pittas

The Chopra Center recommends pittas avoid skipping meals or waiting until they are starving to eat. Eating meals at the same time every day can help prevent the bad moods and ravenous appetite pittas may feel when their eating schedule is disrupted. Aside from diet, other lifestyle changes to help pittas maintain balance include spending time in nature regularly, taking quiet walks in the woods or near bodies of water. Pittas should also balance periods of activity with times of rest, giving themselves free time each day and avoiding time pressures.

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