Most Ayurvedic practitioners discourage their clients from snacking between meals. Contrary to the dietary dogma of the modern age, which prescribes 5-6 small meals a day for weight loss and stable energy levels, Ayurveda holds that snacking can actually be detrimental to your health. Frequent snacking never gives your digestive system the chance to rest and repair. However, we live in a day and age where we are constantly on the go. Many people take seemingly endless commutes to work every day. The typical working mother doesn’t stop moving from the moment she awakens to the moment she returns to bed at night. It’s not practical or possible for many women to sit down to three full, healthy meals a day. For the busy women that ask me what to eat, I recommend dosha-dependent Ayurvedic snacks between or instead of meals.
Ayurvedic Snacks for Pitta Dosha
Pitta dosha is oily, hot, sharp, and liquid. Eating to compliment a pitta dosha requires avoiding foods that exacerbate these qualities. These include foods that are spicy, sour, salty, and pungent. Opt instead for foods that will balance pitta—foods that are cool, sweet, bitter, and astringent.
Pittas have the strongest metabolism of the three doshas. Though pittas should aim for three solid meals a day, pittas that frequently miss meals or are incredibly active should be sure to include healthy Ayurvedic snacks in their meal plan. Cooling vegetables like cucumbers and celery make excellent snacks for pitta, especially in hot weather. For a more filling snack, add sunflower butter, hummus, or guacamole. Make it even more cooling by adding cilantro.
Pitta also benefits from sweet fruits like mango, pineapple, figs, melon, and apples. To prevent blood sugar spikes and keep you fuller for longer, try adding coconut or sunflower butter to fresh fruit. Berries, too, are excellent for pitta types, and pair well with almond butter. Just be sure to avoid mixing your fruits with yogurt, as the sour taste can aggravate pitta dosha.
Ghee is one of the few oils that actually have a cooling effect on the body. Adding ghee and honey to warm coconut or almond milk will warm you up during the winter without aggravating pitta dosha. For additional cooling and great flavor, try steeping rose petals in your mixture as well. Blending the drink is the best way to ensure the ghee thoroughly mixes in.
Ayurvedic Snacks for Vata Dosha
Unlike pitta, the vata dosha is cold, mobile and dry. Thus, vata types should opt for warm, moist, oily, and grounding foods, avoiding snack foods like pretzels and rice cakes that are too dry. Sweet flavors, too, pacify vata dosha. Because vata is prone to undernourishment, vatas are actually encouraged to include an afternoon snack in their dietary regimen.
Like pitta, vata is encouraged to consume warm milk with ghee. However, vatas may benefit from a touch of extra sweetness and the addition of warming spices instead of rose petals. Adding ginger, black pepper, ghee, and dates to warm milk will provide plenty of energy and nourishment to sustain you until your next meal.
Avocados make one of the best grab-and-go snacks for vata, as they are oily and grounding. Roasted nuts, too, provide the oil and fiber that nourishes and promotes healthy digestion in frequently constipated vata types. If you have a little extra time, try blending nuts, nut butters, dates, sea salt, honey, and spices in a food processor to create a sweet, oily, and energizing on-the-go bar. Larabars are great for vatas as well.
A banana with nut butter is great for vata. However, generally speaking, vatas do not tolerate fruits and vegetables well unless they are cooked. If you don’t have time for a full meal, stewing apples or greens in avocado oil is a quick, nourishing option for vata. In preparation for a busy week, prepare a warm soup or stew with plenty of warming spices and cooked vegetables that you can heat up on the go.
Vatas should avoid dry grain products like crackers and pretzels. However, cooked grains are excellent for encouraging healthy digestion in vata types. Cooked oatmeal or millet with almond butter is a filling, grounding option for vata. With a little cinnamon and maple syrup, it is also makes a delicious treat.
Finally, unlike pitta, vata actually benefits from sour or fermented foods. Thus, yogurt and cheese make excellent snacks for vata. Just be sure to select full-fat, organic, unsweetened dairy.
Ayurvedic Snacks for Kapha Dosha
Advice on selecting Ayurvedic snacks is least practical for kapha types, who should ideally fast between each meal. However, Ayurvedic medicine also recommends honoring hunger and never depriving the body of necessary nutrients. Thus, even a busy kapha should eat more than one meal a day. If you are a busy kapha, incorporating light, dry, and warm snacks into your day will tide you over until your main meal.
Kapha is the only dosha that benefits from an abundance of raw vegetables. A salad with a light dressing is a great option for kaphas between or in place of full meals. Kapha benefits from light fruits, too. However, Kaphas should be wary of consuming too much sugar, and should thus steer away from fruits like bananas and melons. Apples and pears are the best options for kapha.
Unlike both pitta and vata, kapha benefits from consuming dry foods and legumes. A rice cake with chickpea hummus is therefore one of the best snacks for Ayurvedic types. Just be sure not to go overboard, as rice cakes are considered sweet.
For a particularly hungry kapha with time to plan ahead, try preparing a blend of cooked millet and beans. If you are limited in time or you aren’t that hungry, an herbal tea with a spot of honey may be enough to curb your hunger until your next meal.