VATA (air and ether) is quick, cold and dry by nature. It governs motion, breathing, circulation, elimination and the flow of nerve impulses to and from the brain.
When in balance, the vata type is vibrant, cheerful, lively, enthusiastic, clear and alert mind (quick to learn, but easily forget!), flexible, exhilarated, imaginative, sensitive, talkative, and quick to respond.
When out of balance, vata types can be restless, agitated and unsettled, have light or interrupted sleep, with a tendency towards over-exertion, and therefore be fatigued, constipated, anxious, worried, forgetful, and underweight.
Vata is aggravated by an irregular routine, staying up late, having irregular mealtimes, cold, dry and windy weather, doing excessive mental work, eating too much bitter, astringent or pungent food, and from traveling, illness and injury.
To balance (decrease) Vata eat foods that are sweet, sour, salty, heavy, oily and hot.
Pungent, bitter, astringent, light, dry and cold foods aggravate (increase) Vata.
Dairy products: All dairy products pacify Vata. Avoid taking milk with a full meal. Cheese should be soft and fresh.
Fruits: Favour sweet, heavy fruits, such as avocados, grapes, cherries, peaches, melons, berries, plums, bananas, sweet oranges, pineapples, mangoes and papayas. Avoid or reduce dry light fruits such as raw apples, pears, pomegranates, cranberries and dried fruits. They are easier to digest when cooked. Dried fruit can be taken first soaked in hot water. Dates are best taken with ghee (clarified butter).
Sweeteners: All sweeteners are good for balancing Vata (but not in excess).
Beans: Avoid all beans except for tofu, (soybean curd) and mung (split mung beans).
Nuts: All nuts are good, but ideally should be soaked before eating.
Grains: Rice and wheat are very good; reduce barley, corn, millet, buckwheat, rye, and oats.
Oils: All oils pacify Vata, but especially ghee, olive and sesame.
Spices: Cardamom, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, salt, cloves, mustard seed, and small quantities of black pepper pacify Vata.
Vegetables: Beets, carrots, asparagus, cucumber, and sweet potatoes are good, but they should be cooked and not raw. The following vegetables are fine in moderate quantities, if cooked (especially cooked with ghee) and Vata reducing spices: peas, green leafy vegetables, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, courgettes and spinach (in small quantities). It is best to avoid Brussel sprouts and cabbage.
Aromas are also used in Ayurveda to achieve balance. Essential oils can be used in massage, inhalations or diffused to scent a room. Fresh flowers, herbs and spices, incense, and other natural aromas (not synthetic!) can bring great psychological and physiological benefits.
Vata is balanced with a mixture of warm, sweet and sour aromas like basil, orange, rose geranium, clove, and other spices.