Pitta refers to a mindbody constitution that is primarily made up of fire and water elements, although fire tends to play the dominant role.
Physically, pitta-dominant people tend to be athletic with a medium build. They may have reddish hair and often have freckles. Their skin is usually fair and sensitive to sunlight. Pitta-types may have piercing eyes and a thin, pointed nose. They tend to have a warmer body temperature than other types and have difficulty spending too much time in the hot sun. They usually have strong digestive fire, or agni, and have a large appetite. During their younger years, pitta-dominant people may have an "iron stomach" but this can diminish with age if overeating becomes a habit. They tend toward loose bowels, especially when overheated or upset. They are the most likely of all types to experience heartburn and acid reflux. They may perspire profusely and tend toward skin rashes or acne.
Emotionally, pitta-types tend to have a short fuse and may get irritated or angry more easily than other types. When faced with conflict, they usually go to emotions such as frustration or anger first. When they are balanced, they are very warm and loving, adventurous and passionate.
Mentally, pitta-dominant people are very agile and ambitious. They are clever and quick. They are problem solvers and list-makers. They are very decisive and can tend toward organizing people and projects to a fault. When they are out of balance, they can tend toward overworking, perfectionism, passing harsh criticism on themselves and others, and being overly-competitive. Their speech is usually sharp and direct, they do not "beat around the bush." They tend to be natural leaders and confident - even the way they walk exudes confidence.
Ways to Balance Pitta
Much of the work for pitta is to surrender to the process and to trust in the divine flow of all things. A helpful affirmation for pitta-dominant types is, "I have time for everything in divine right alignment." Taking breaks throughout the day, spending time in cool environments (physical and mental/emotional environments), and balancing work with play are also important factors for keeping the firey nature of pitta in balance.
In general, pitta-balancing foods are sweet, bitter and astringent. They should be cooling, or at least avoid excessively spicy or temperature-hot foods, such as cayenne pepper. Pitta-balancing foods are also dry and heavy to balance the liquid and light aspects of a fire-water constitution.
Examples of foods that balance pitta include raw and lightly cooked foods (although raw foods should still be taken in moderation); cilantro; cucumber; all leafy greens; sweet fruits like apples, apricots, peaches pears and ripe plums; sweet veggies like peas, parsnips and sweet potatoes; cooling spices like fennel seed, mint, fresh basil and fresh parsley; whole grains, but especially oats, rice and barley.
Examples of foods that cause disharmony for pitta-dominant types include pungent veggies, such as onions and garlic; sour fruits like green grapes, sour apples and grapefruit; salt in excess.
For Pitta-Vata Constitutions
Vata and Pitta both contain the quality of lightness, so make food choices grounding and allow yourself to slow down. While vata loves warmth, too much will aggravate pitta, so monitor how much time you are spending in baths, hot tubs, saunas and the hot summer sun.
For Pitta-Kapha Constitutions
Pitta and Kapha share the wet quality, so focus on foods and environments that are drying. Astringent fruits, like pomegranates, pears, apples and berries are beneficial, but avoid eating them too sour, which will aggravate pitta. Turmeric is a very astringent herb that benefits both doshas. Also focus on bitter foods, such as leafy greens, because the bitter taste balances both types.