Tips to Stay Centered in the Fall
– Your Diet –
Ayurveda is India’s traditional medical practice. In my opinion, it has never been more relevant than today as it is the most comprehensive and complete holistic health system in existence. The meaning of the Sanskrit word Ayurveda is science or knowledge (veda) of life (ayur). It’s system is based on logic and science and yet is beautifully simple somehow. It described systems of energies into three categories; named the Doshas. The three Doshas are known as Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Each Dosha governs specific functions in the body and mind and is associated with different elements. Vata is associated with the elements of air and ether (space), Pitta with fire and water, and Kapha with earth and water.
Everything can be described in terms of its qualities, hence the elements. We can therefore describe the seasons through the doshas as they also each have predominant qualities. In Ayurveda the fall season corresponds to two major doshas or mind-body principles: Pitta and Vata. Autumn is considered Pitta as long as hot weather prevails, and Vata as it becomes cold. Late fall and winter are known as “Vata season” because they are marked by some of the same qualities that characterize Vata: cold, dry, light, clear, and moving.
As long as these qualities are in balance, a person whose dosha is predominantly Vata will be healthy, creative, and exuberant. But when too much Vata accumulates in the body and mind, the imbalance may manifest as physical or emotional disorders, including insomnia, dry skin, arthritis, constipation, high blood pressure, anxiety, and depression.
All body types are vulnerable to Vata derangement during autumn and winter, but those who are predominantly Vata types need to be particularly vigilant about staying in balance (Deepak Chopra).
Following are tips on how to eat to stay balanced through these colder months:
Follow a Vata Pacifying Diet
- Eat your food warm – this means trading your salad in for a cozy soup, your apples for warm applesauce. Butternut squash, eggs, ghee, warm dairy, winter squash, root vegetables, nuts, seeds, bone broth and beef provide the nourishment your body needs to build a layer of protective, insulating fat before winter. Add generous amounts of good quality oils like ghee and coconut oil to your dishes.
- Avoid cold foods and drinks at all costs. Tip: when eating out; ask for warm water instead of the ice cold water they normally serve.
- Stay away from cabbage-family veggies
- Drink warm beverages
- Avoid eating raw veggies or fruits
- Inner lubrification ; ghee is your best friend during Vata season. If your dosha is Vata predominant you may add 1 tsp of ghee to each of your three daily meals.
- Avoid dry foods such as chips, crackers, popcorn etc…
- Always eat in a calm setting
- Regular meals: Do not skip meals! and take your last meal of the day at least 3 hours before bedtime.
- Add a squeeze of lemon or a splash of vinegar on top of your meals to bring in the juiciness of the sour taste. A dash of sour taste keeps the palate moist and digestion strong. (source: Joyfullbelly)
- Spicy foods may feel warm as you eat them, but they will dilate blood vessels in the skin, which could leave you vulnerable to catching a cold. Keep your heat in by avoiding especially spicy foods in fall, especially cayenne pepper and chilis. Otherwise, spices are okay as long as they don’t make you sweat. Moderate use of spices like salt, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, black pepper, garlic, onionand thyme are actually helpful to digest the heavier foods of fall, as long as you are wearing warm clothing to protect your skin. (source: Joyfullbelly)
Like most pungent spices, cinnamon rekindles digestion. It is a favorite additive to counteract the damp, heavy qualities of dairy. Cinnamon’s anti-microbial qualities also reduce gas and fermentation in the GI. (source: Joyfullbelly)
- Black pepper improves circulation via vasodilation. It is a carminative (expels gas) useful for cold Vata digestion. It is gently warming and digestive without being overstimulating or overheating like cayenne or chili pepper. As mentioned above, exercise caution with spices. Their use for digestive effect may be helpful, but in excess causes loss of heat through the skin.
- Root vegetables; squash, sweet potato, carrots, beets etc are excellent choices
- Lentils; choose the smaller variety such as mung dhal, red coral lentils as they are much easier to digest than the larger variety such as chickpea, kidney etc..
- Avoid consuming too many stimulants such as coffee, alcohol etc; they will affect the quality of your sleep.
- Natural sweeteners to use: honey, dates, and molasses (also a great source of iron!)
- Tea recipe for optimal digestion: CCF Tea
Add 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp coriander, 1 tsp fennel to 2 cups of water; bring to a boil, remove from heat and let steep for 3-4 minutes. Strain, and sip slowly after meals.
(photo copyright Chit Chaat Chai)
Be warm, be well!