General Guidelines for a Pitta-Pacifying Diet
Pitta is balanced by a diet of fresh, whole foods (both cooked and raw) that are cooling, comparatively dry, and high in carbohydrates. These foods calm pitta by decreasing internal heat, preventing inflammation, balancing the digestive fire, grounding the body, and by absorbing excess liquid and oil.
Pitta’s digestive fire is as intense and their mental one. They have a strong appetite. Pitta people can’t wait when they are hungry or they will become angry and upset. Failure to eat on time can also irritate their digestive tract because they often produce too many digestive enzymes.
As a Pitta you should avoid alcohol, excess spices, and other digestive irritants like coffee. Sour and salty foods encourage the release of hot, irritating digestive fluids, including hydrochloric acid and bile. Pungent foods increase heart rate and blood flow and can make you feel hot. Strong aromatic herbs like cinnamon, or vasodilators like ginger, can make your body and your digestion too hot. These foods will also exhaust your liver due to excessive blood flow.
The following recommendations illuminate the general attitude and food choices Pitta people should seek: eating attentively and slowly, eating enough and on time, fruit, spring vegetables, leafy greens, bitter sweet vegetables, salads, sautéed vegetables, steamed vegetables, vegetarian dishes, milk, cottage cheese, soft cheese, occasional ice cream, all types of legumes, sprouts, aloe Vera, and edible flowers.
Cooling foods such as cucumber, milk, pears, and honeydew melon soothe inflamed Pitta membranes. Bitter greens like kale, collards, and red leaf lettuce can literally cool your temper as they draw heat and blood back downward from the head. After eating bitters such as these, you may notice that your eyes feel more relaxed and refreshed. Astringent foods such as legumes, raw veggies, and dried fruit can absorb and dry up Pitta’s excess acids and fluids. Astringents also reduce inflammation and irritation.
Like Vata, Pitta also benefits from sweet foods like sweet potato, whole grains, and animal products. These heavier foods satisfy Pitta’s strong appetite and can temporarily relax Pitta away from their ambitious nature. Sweet taste also soothes their internal inflammation.
Pitta individuals have sensitive livers. For this reason, Pitta should avoid fried foods and poor quality oils that over stimulate the liver. Instead, cook with coconut oil and ghee. Blueberries and strawberries are ideal to nourish your liver. Cooling bitters can also cleanse your liver. You may find your liver is sensitive to nightshades such as tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers, or foods with aflotoxins like peanuts and corn. Fermented foods are heating and irritating to the gut, and may also overtax the liver.
Pitta, paradoxically, often has weak digestion due to inflammation of their GI tract. Cooling spices like cilantro, turmeric, cardamom, cloves and fennel will improve Pitta indigestion without creating the heat of other, hotter spices like cayenne, black pepper, and cinnamon. These cooling spices will also please Pitta’s palate.
Pitta people are often determined to succeed, which can include eating their perfect diet. Pitta’s vigilance, however, can lead to orthorexia – characterized by overly strict adherence to their diet. Ultimately, suppression of instincts works against Pitta, leaving them confused. Instead, Pitta people need to take a relaxed approach, even with their diet. Rather than strictly following the rules of their mind, they need a more body-centric approach. They must cultivate the ability to listen to their body and follow their internal cravings.
Remedies for the following imbalanced qualities:
Hot – cooling foods such as most vegetables, fresh greens and fruits
Light – with carbohydrates, fats, and proteins
Oily – astringent, bitter and sweet taste
Sharp –eating slowly and attentively
Embrace Slow, Steady, and Small Shifts
Following a pitta-pacifying diet is a practice far more than it is a collection of absolutes. Following a pitta-pacifying diet is not a matter of sticking to a strict set of dos and don’ts, or getting overly bogged down in the details. In fact, it is often far more helpful to pay attention to the generalities.
Qualities to Favor
By nature, 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—can help to balance excess 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 the ones that balance Pitta. 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 will generally be supportive—especially in the warmer months. On the other hand, it is best to minimize your exposure to fiery hot dishes, foods with a sharply warming energetic, alcohol, and caffeine; all of these influences will naturally increase internal heat.
Favor Dense, Grounding, and Nourishing Over Light
While the heavy quality is the true antithesis to pitta’s lightness, 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. Generally, these foods will naturally taste sweet. Most grains, milk, root vegetables, seeds, and cooling oils are good examples. But excess pitta can cause a sharp and sometimes insatiable appetite, so it’s equally important not to overeat. Highly processed foods such as canned foods, ready-made meals, and pastries are excessively heavy, and should be minimized as much as possible.
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, oats, pasta, popcorn, and most vegetables very supportive. When cooking, use a moderate amount of a high quality oil or ghee. Minimize especially heating oily foods like eggs (egg whites are better), 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. Do your best to substitute more stable and sustaining sources of energy.
Tastes to Favor and Avoid
Pitta is pacified by the sweet, bitter, and astringent tastes and aggravated by the pungent, sour, and salty tastes. Understanding these tastes allows us to make better choices whether or not we have an extensive list of Pitta-pacifying foods handy.
Sweet: favor naturally sweet foods like sweet fruits, most grains, squashes, root vegetables, milk, ghee, and fresh yogurt.Emphasizing the sweet taste does NOT require us to eat large amounts of refined sugar or sugary sweet foods; naturally sweet foods are best.
Bitter: the bitter taste predominates in bitter greens—like kale, dandelion greens, and collard greens. It is also found in bitter melon, Jerusalem artichokes, dark chocolate and Pitta pacifying spices like coriander seeds, cumin, neem leaves, saffron, and turmeric.
Astringent: legumes—adzuki beans, black-eyed peas, chickpeas, kidney beans, lentils, pinto beans, soybeans, and so forth—are classically astringent in taste. Some fruits, vegetables, grains, baked goods, and spices are also astringent in taste—things like apples, cranberries, pomegranate, artichokes, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, popcorn, rice cakes, crackers, basil, coriander, dill, fennel, parsley, and turmeric.
Pungent: is a spicy, hot flavor like that found in chilies, radishes, turnips, raw onions, and many especially heating spices.
Sour: minimize sour foods like vinegar and other fermented foods, hard cheeses, sour cream, green grapes, pineapple, grapefruit, and alcohol (an occasional beer or white wine is sometimes OK).An occasional squeeze of cooling lime juice as a garnish is the best way for pitta to include the sour taste.
Salty: The salty taste is almost singularly derived from salt itself. Keep the salt relatively down.
How to Eat
Eat enough and on time: As most people with pitta digestion know, pitta’s sharp appetite can lead to a general intolerance for skipping meals. For this reason, pitta does well to stick to a regular eating schedule and to eat at least three square meals each day. Eating at consistent times from one day to the next also helps to balance an overactive digestive fire.
Eat in a peaceful environment and give your full attention to the act of being nourished so both your body and mind register satisfaction. When your mind is distracted from the meal, it creates disharmony between body and mind, the body is full while the mind stays hungry. This will help to prevent overeating, which is a common side effect of pitta’s voracious appetite. Try not to rush off still chewing, take a few deep breaths after swallowing your last bite and before heading off for your next activity.
Foods that Increase Pitta Dosha:
Fried food, baked food, roasted food, meat (especially red meat), excess oil, salt, spicy condiments, alcohol, buckwheat, sour yogurt, hard salty cheese, sour cream, nuts, sesame seeds, vinegar, tomato, eggplant, garlic, caffeine.
Although appetite can be very strong, avoid eating too much at once or very oily and spicy meals.
Specific Pitta-Pacifying Foods
Pitta can be brought back into balance by eating the right foods. This list is meant to help you deepen your understanding and begin to see overarching patterns—not to create a sense of restriction or deprivation. If food lists tend to have that effect on you, do your best to internalize the qualitative guidelines above. Embrace eating regularly and being fully present with your meals. That is as good a starting place as any.
Most fruits are good for pitta because they soothe, cool and quench thirst. Fruit juices are also good. Fruits that pacify pitta will generally be sweet and somewhat astringent. Dried fruits are typically also acceptable, but are best in small quantities. Fruits to avoid are those that are exceptionally heating or sour (like cranberries, and green grapes). You’ll find many fruits in both the favor and avoid columns below because different varieties of the same fruit can truly be pacifying or aggravating, depending on how sweet or sour they are. When trying to balance pitta, learning to distinguish between these tastes and choosing sweet fruits over sour ones is always very helpful.
Fruits and fruit juices are best enjoyed alone—30 minutes before, and ideally at least 1 hour after, any other food. This helps to ensure optimal digestion. Note: this rule does not apply to fruits that we typically consider vegetables (avocados, cucumbers, tomatoes, etc.). You will find these fruits listed among the vegetables list.
Grapes (red, purple, black(
Vegetables that pacify pitta will generally be somewhat sweet and either bitter, astringent, or both. Many vegetables include some combination of these tastes; so experimenting with a wide variety of vegetables is a great way to diversify your pitta pacifying diet. Most cooked vegetables are good for pacifying pitta during the winter or when weakness is pronounced. The recommended cooking methods are steaming, infusion with boiling water or stir-fry with minimum oil.
Pitta can usually digest raw vegetables better than Vata and Kapha, but mid-day is often the best time of day to have them because digestive strength is at its peak. The only vegetables for pitta to reduce or avoid are those that are particularly spicy, heating, sharp, or sour—like garlic, green chilies, radishes, onion, and mustard greens.
Celery (stalks and roots)
Corn on the cob
Parsley (greens and root)
Sprouts (sunflower, other non-spicy)
Squash (summer, winter)
The most appropriate is the Wakame seaweed followed by Arameh, preferably as a salad.
Grains that pacify pitta are cooling, sweet, dry, and grounding. Grains tend to be staples in our diets, and overall, Pitta benefits from their sweet, nourishing nature. You’ll also notice that many of the grains that benefit pitta are rather dry; this helps to offset pitta’s oily nature. When it comes to balancing Pitta, avoiding grains that are heating (like buckwheat and yeasted breads) is the most important guideline.Most cereals, including bread and pasta, are appropriate, since they strengthen and nourish but are not too heating in nature.
Corn (polenta, popcorn)
Oats (whole, muesli)
Rice (basmati, white, wild, sweet, brown)
Sprouted Wheat Bread
Legumes are generally astringent in taste and are therefore largely pitta pacifying, so feel free to enjoy a wide variety of them. Beans that are not appropriate for pitta are those that are especially sour or oily and, not coincidentally also heating.Because legumes are relatively hard to digest, cooling and heavy, they are highly recommended for a sharp digestion, which is often the case with Pitta people.
Garbanzo Beans (Chickpeas)
Milk and dairy products: (quality is very significant)
Dairy products tend to be grounding, nourishing, and cooling, so many of them are balancing for pitta. Those to avoid are exceptionally sour, salty, or heating. As a rule, dairy milks (cow’s milk, goat’s milk, sheep’s milk, etc.) should be taken at least one hour before or after any other food. For this reason, avoid drinking milk with meals. Almond and rice milks are good substitutes, if you need to combine milk with other foods, or if you don’t digest dairy milks well.
Dairy products can be an excellent remedy for a rapid and sharp digestion. Most appropriate are milk and sweet cream. White cheese, cottage cheese and non-salted cheeses can also be helpful and, exceptionally, ice cream can be used occasionally. Sweet yogurt may be appropriate occasionally and sour yogurt best be avoided since sour dairy products may increase heat.
Cheese (soft, unsalted, not aged)
Goat’s Cheese (fresh, soft, unsalted)
Yogurt (fresh, diluted, without fruit)
Yogurt (sour, or with fruit)
Nuts and seeds:
Nuts and seeds tend to be extremely oily and are usually heating, so most of them are not terrifically balancing for pitta. That said, there are a few types of nuts, and several seeds that are acceptable in small quantities; these varieties tend to be less oily, and are either mildly heating or cooling in nature.
Almonds (soaked and peeled)
Almonds (with skin)
Animal food: (quality is very significant)
Animal foods are very heating and are not the first choice for Pitta. Pitta does best with animal foods that taste sweet, are relatively dry (like rabbit or venison) and that are either mildly heating or cooling in nature. When this type of food is needed, a good choice is eggs, especially the whites. Chicken breast and turkey are also safer options. Meats that don’t work are those that are especially oily, salty, or heating (like dark chicken, beef, salmon, or tuna). Fish, beef and mutton do slow digestion in the short run, but add a lot of heat to the system in the long term, so it is best to minimize their consumption.
Eggs (white only)
Despite being oily in nature, pitta does well with a moderate amount of oil – as long as it is cooling. The very best oils for pitta are unsalted butter, ghee, sunflower oil, coconut oil, and olive oil. It’s also important to keep in mind that toxins tend to concentrate in fats, so buying organic oils may be more important than buying organic fruits and vegetables.
Flax Seed Oil
Since the sweet taste is one that soothes Pitta, most sweeteners are well tolerated by Pitta, but some are simply too heating or too processed for Pitta. In general, naturally occurring sweet tastes are far more balancing than sugary sweets, so even the appropriate sweeteners should be used in moderation. Be aware not to eat too much of this category. The more natural the sweetener – the better.
Date Sugar, syrup
Fruit Juice Concentrates
Sucanat (pure dried sugar cane juice)
Sugar cane juice
Most spices are heating by nature and therefore have the potential to aggravate Pitta. Spices stimulate digestion, so are best minimized. The spices to favor are only mildly heating, help to maintain a balanced digestive fire without provoking pitta, and, in some cases, are actively cooling. Choose carefully and pay attention to dosage. Acceptable cooling spics are coriander seeds, fennel seeds, cardamom pods, and cloves.On occasion, these spices can be used to make foods that would otherwise be too hot for pitta. Cumin, saffron, and turmeric, though heating, also offer some particularly valuable pitta pacifying properties.
Black Pepper (small amounts)
Cinnamon (small amounts)
Coriander (seeds or powder)
Cumin (seeds or powder)
Ginger (fresh, small amounts)
Orange Peel (fresh, small amount)
Pippali (long pepper)
Pitta people need a good amount of fluids. Cooled water is very suitable. Very good are Black or green tea, cold infusions of coriander seeds, rose petals, fennel seeds, chamomile, hibiscus. Fruit juices (apple, pear, melon) and vegetable juices (e.g. celery and green apple) and smoothies are good. Light alcohol should be consumed only occasionally.
Drink options following awakening: a cold infusion of coriander seeds (soaked overnight), rose petal tea, chamomile tea with honey.
Optional daily menu for this condition:
Breakfast is usually not to be skipped when Pitta is elevated. Beneficial choices are sweet, high in carbohydrates, and yet offer sustained energy. Consider:
Oatmeal/rice/semolina/wheat flour porridge, cook the porridge in cow / almond / coconut milk, and garnish with raisins or chopped dates, chopped almonds (soaked and peeled), ghee, and maple syrup.
Chapatti/whole wheat/spelt bread with cream cheese, ghee/butter/almond paste, and cucumber and lettuce salad
An egg white and vegetable omelet, served with avocado and whole grain toast
A hearty fruit salad (apples, pears, red grapes, and blueberries) garnished with raisins and shredded coconut. This lighter meal will probably work better in the warmer months than in the dead of winter
A green smoothie with fruit and coconut, for spring or summer
Date and almond shake made from soaked dates, soaked and peeled almonds, and boiled milk (or a substitute)—blended together with cardamom and a pinch of cinnamon. Good for autumn and winter.
10:00 Snack: optional if you feel hungry
Sliced vegetables or salad, with white/cottage cheese
Chapatti / whole wheat bread, cream cheese, ghee/butter/almond paste, cucumber and lettuce salad.
A green smoothie with fruit and coconut
Ideally, lunch is the main meal of the day, meaning it’s the largest and the most nourishing. A wide variety of appropriate grains, beans, and vegetables are great building blocks for lunch, and can be complimented with suitable meats, if you eat them.
A vegetarian meal will include cooked grain, Vegetables (steamed or stirred or cooked) and protein (legumes or cheese).
A non-vegetarian meal will include cooked grain, vegetables (salad or warm) andanimal protein (chicken / turkey breast, white fish).
Seasoned tofu and steamed collard greens over wild rice.
Red lentils made with cooling herbs like cilantro, mint, or fennel, with buttered whole grain bread, sautéed purple cabbage, and a green salad.
Rice, sautéed vegetables and chicken breast.
Whole wheat pasta, pesto, and steamed vegetables (broccoli, carrots, celery, green beans, mushrooms, zucchini), garnish the pasta with crumbled goat cheese, olive oil, and cilantro. Serve with a small green salad and minestrone soup.
Some Fresh fruit.
Chapatti or bread with a suitable sweet spread (ghee, date syrup, almond spread, carob syrup, honey, etc.).
Dinner is ideally a bit smaller and lighter than lunch, but it also needs to sustain Pitta’s active metabolism. A simple but nourishing meal or a slightly smaller serving of lunch can work well.
Green mung beans with dill, paired with roasted asparagus and basmati rice.
Veggie burgers with sautéed mushrooms, goat cheese, lettuce, avocado, and baked sweet potato.
Oatmeal / rice/ semolina / wheat flour porridge, cook the porridge in cow / almond / coconut milk, and garnish with raisins or chopped dates, chopped almonds (soaked and peeled), ghee, and maple syrup.
Vegetable soup, mung beans and grits and wheat noodles.
Chapatti or bread with a suitable spread (cream cheese, butter, legume spread, tofu spread), soft boiled eggs.
Semolina/bulgur and vegetable pie.
Semolina banana pancake.
Noodles or spaghetti with vegetable sauce and cream.
22:00 before bedtime:
A glass of almond milk.
Foods that is naturally sweet, bitter, and astringent
Cooling foods, both energetically and in temperature
A balance of whole, freshly cooked foods and fresh, raw foods
Cooling herbs and spices like coriander, cilantro, fennel and cardamom
Dairy, if you digest it well. But avoid drinking milk with your meals. It is best to have it at least an hour before or 2 hours after other food.
A moderate amount of high-quality olive, sunflower and coconut oils or ghee in your daily diet
Routine times for your meals
Eating your meal in a peaceful environment
Foods that is pungent, sour, and salty
Warming foods, both energetically and in temperature
Chili and cayenne peppers
Highly processed foods (like canned or frozen foods, “TV” dinners or pastries)
Eating fresh fruit or drinking fruit juice within ½ hour of any other food
Caffeine, nicotine, and other stimulants
Deep fried foods
Alcohol, except for an occasional beer or white wine