Do you get to know somebody who seems to complain his/her body is always hot? It doesn’t matter if they’re overweight or if it’s freezing outside. Some people just tend to sweat and overheat easily.
They’re usually the ones that can get away with only wearing a lightweight jacket in freezing temperatures. They’re also some of the most susceptible to heat exhaustion and take a long time to adjust to living in warm climates.
Or, have you ever met someone with a “fiery” disposition? Someone that tends to get angry quickly and doesn’t deal well with insubordination or disrespect? They seem to be unable to tolerate even the smallest disappointments without getting up in arms.
I acknowledge that several factors work to influence these characteristics on an individual basis, but Ayurvedic medicine would say people with these traits are probably Pitta people (a basic summary of Ayurvedic body types can be found here).
Pitta people were born with an abundance of this particular dosha, which corresponds to the sun’s energy on Earth (the basics of doshas in Ayurveda is explained here). Because they have an abundance of Pitta, these people have a high internal heat that must be controlled through mental exercises, food, and calming behaviors.
Ayurveda focuses on maintaining an internal balance between the three primary doshas. It is important to know your prevailing dosha because that provides an Ayurvedic practitioner a possible cause of any ailments you may be having and gives them a starting point for treating this illness. If you and your Ayurvedic doctor know your dominant dosha, it will be easier for you both to create a diet and activity regimen focused on realigning that dosha in relation to the other two.
(Much of the following information comes from the excellent books Ayurvedic Healing: A Comprehensive Guide by Dr. David Frawley, Ayurveda: Nature’s Medicine by Dr. David Frawley and Dr. Subhash Ranade, and The Way of Ayurvedic Herbs by Karta Purkh Singh Khalsa and Michael Tierra.
There are many more Ayurveda books that you can get for you to know and practice this ancient medicine.)
In general, Pitta people need to eat cooling, moist foods and should avoid hot spices. Here’s a list of some foods that are good for Pittas and some they should avoid.
Best foods for Pitta people:
Dairy – (cooling) butter, cottage cheese, milk, and paneer.
Fruit – (sweet and astringent) apples, blueberries, coconut, cranberries, dates, figs, grapes, limes, mango, melons, sweet oranges/tangerines, pears, persimmons, pineapples, plums, pomegranate, prunes, and raspberries.
Vegetables – (sweet and bitter) alfalfa sprouts, artichokes, asparagus, bell peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, cilantro, corn, cucumber, eggplant, green beans, kale, lettuce, mushrooms, okra, parsley, peas, potatoes, squash, and zucchini. All legumes are good.
Grains – (cooling) barley, basmati rice, brown rice, couscous, millet, granola, oats, quinoa, white rice, and wheat.
Spices – (cooling) coriander, fennel, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, turmeric, and black pepper in moderation.
Oils – (cooling) coconut, olive, sunflower, and soy.
Meat – Ayurvedic medicine states that a vegetarian diet is best for all doshas. While meat is generally not recommended in Ayurveda, cooking meats such as chicken, turkey, egg whites, and rabbit are the best for Pitta people.
Nuts should generally be avoided except for coconut and sunflower seeds.
All naturally cooling sugars are good in moderation, except for honey.
Foods to avoid for Pitta:
In general, Pitta people should stay away from sour, astringent, or spicy (hot) foods. Meat has the tendency to provoke anger and aggressiveness, which should be avoided for Pitta people who already have those tendencies. Red meat and fish (including shellfish) is bad for Pitta. Pork is the worst.
Fruits – (sour and acidic fruit can be taken in small quantities) apricots, bananas, cherries, grapefruit, lemons, papaya, peaches, and strawberries.
Vegetables – (avoid acidic and spicy vegetables) beets, carrots, chard, chilies, onions, radishes, seaweeds, spinach, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, turnips, and yams. Chilies and tomatoes are the worst for Pitta.
Nuts – (nuts are naturally oily and warm) almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, pecans, pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, sesame, and walnuts.
Oils – (avoid animal oils and other warming oils) margarine, mustard, peanut, safflower, and sesame.
Spices – (inappropriate spices are the most common causes of Pitta imbalances) basil, bay leaf, black pepper, cayenne, garlic, ginger, horseradish, oregano, mustard, nutmeg, paprika, rock salt, sage, sea salt, soy sauce, and tamarind.
Pitta people should also avoid pickles, vinegar, ketchup, carbonated drinks, coffee, and alcohol.
Diet Management for Pitta
Ayurveda recommends Pitta people should emphasize a cool, slightly dry diet. However, Pittas have the strongest digestion and can get away with excessive eating, bad food combinations, and eating inappropriate foods better than the other doshas can.
The wrong diet in Pitta people can result in inflammation, hyperacidity, ulcers, rashes, toxic blood diseases, liver disorders, and hypertension. Pitta people should make sure to drink plenty of cool water and eat their meals at a regular time each day in a calm, grateful manner.
Right eating is an important aspect of Ayurvedic medicine. Ayurvedic professionals typically recommend a diet tailored to your individual dosha, which is why this form of alternative medicine has been successful for thousands of years. It recognizes we are all individuals with unique dispositions.
Optimal health is achieved through preventative medicine in Ayurveda. Disease prevention in Ayurveda starts with the diet because the foods we eat are literally the building blocks of our bodies.
Contact an Ayurvedic specialist in your area if you want to learn more about how your individual constitution can be influenced by a proper diet.