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Recently, a student of mine shared that she loves and enjoys eating oatmeal in the morning, but she feel tired after eating for about 60-90 minutes.
After the tired spell, she feels better than before and full of energy from the nutrition. Is there something she could do to reduce the heavy feeling?
My answer is as follows:
Feeling tired after eating is a sign that you lack the digestive strength to digest what you ate, and that’s why it feels heavy in your stomach.
Oats are heavy, sweet and gooey, and so they can easily feel heavy if not cooked or consumed in a way that’s appropriate for your body type and digestive strength.
Further, oats actually have a sedative and nerve balancing quality to them.
Don’t fear this. Welcome it in a fast-paced world, and learn how you can benefit from this quality with the right preparation of oatmeal, because we all need soothing (especially Vata), and oats are easy to digest when prepared properly.
Vata is one of the three doshas, or body types, that we talk about in Ayurveda. Pitta and Kapha are the other two. Knowing your dosha can guide you to make better decisions about how to eat to feel your best.
Oatmeal That Doesn’t Make You Feel Heavy
The first thing to remember is to chew well, and reduce the quantity you consume to make oatmeal easier to digest. Every food in the world is medicine in the proper quantity.
Another issue to overcome with oatmeal is the strong presence of the gooey and sweet qualities, which can be overwhelming.
We add spices and variety to counter this. Even the sugar and dried fruit complicate the comparatively muddy quality of the oats in this healthy Ayurvedic recipe, which results in digestive stimulation.
We also add plenty of liquid to lighten the overall heaviness of the dish.
So many points go into the perfect Ayurvedic oatmeal, including the Six Tastes.
In Ayurveda, it is advised to include all Six Tastes in every meal for perfect satisfaction and overall health.
What are the Six Tastes, and where do they show up in this Ayurvedic oatmeal recipe?
Sweet: oats, milk, plant-based milk, cinnamon, raisins, ghee
Pungent: cinnamon, cardamom, ginger
Bitter: maple syrup, lime
Oatmeal is generally very good for Vata, but the heavy quality needs balancing so it doesn’t overwhelm a weak and sensitive digestive tract.
Oats are high in mucilaginous soluble fiber, which is what you see after the oats cook for a while. It looks like mucus, or slime.
The soluble fiber is softening and supportive for a dry digestive tract, which is often the case for Vata types.
The sweet taste is also really grounding for Vata. For Vata, we are going to add gentle digestive strength from spices, and some added sweetener and dried fruits for extra nourishment.
We are also adding plenty of liquid for hydration, and cooking the oats really well to aid digestion.
I have designed this recipe with Vata in mind. Here are some things you can try to make your oatmeal more digestible:
1. Eat a smaller portion
2. Make your oatmeal thinner. Try 1/3 cup oatmeal to 1 cup or more of milk.
3. Add 1 teaspoon ghee into the oatmeal to make it more digestible.
4. Add 1 teaspoon maple syrup or raw sugar to encourage digestion
5. Add 1 tablespoon dried fruit (optional) and cook it into the oatmeal to hydrate it and make it easier to digest
6. Add spices to support digestion, such as cardamom powder or cinnamon
7. Have a 1/4 teaspoon Ginger Lime Pickle with the oatmeal to support digestive secretions
8. Chew well
Oatmeal is generally very supportive for Pitta because the heavy quality keeps Pitta’s strong digestive fire busy for a while with nourishing food.
Pitta may want to hold off on the ghee, and reduce the spices a little from the recipe below to avoid overstimulation.
Kapha tends to have a dull and weak digestive fire, so Kapha will want to be the most cautious with oatmeal, and add even more stimulation to support digestion.
Kapha can increase the amount of fresh ginger to really fire up digestive secretions, and hold off on the ghee, sugar, and dried fruit.
Another option for Kapha is to go savory and add a topping of sautéed kale, collards, dandelion, radish leaf, etc.
Recipe for Ayurvedic 6 Tastes Oatmeal
- 1/3 cup organic rolled oats
- 1 cup organic whole milk or plant-based milk
- 1/3 cup water
- 1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon powder
- 1 tablespoon raisins or chopped dates
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon ghee
for the topping
- 1/4 teaspoon Ginger-lime Pickle (see notes)
- Add all ingredients to a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, partially cover, and cook on low for 15 minutes or more, until you can see a nice layer of gooey insoluble fiber on top.
- Transfer to a serving bowl, top with Ginger-lime Pickle, and enjoy.