Vata Dosha Diet
Early Winter- It’s Vata Season
Best Foods for Vata Season
The Autumn and the early Winter Season is when the days shorten, the wind increases and the weather cools here in the Northern Hemisphere. Whether you are in the cold North or even here in the Caribbean we welcome the Christmas winds and cooler water and air temperatures.
With the cooler weather, dullness, softness and less light of the winter months, balance can be achieved through building strength, stability and immunity that if done thoughtfully can support us for the year to come. This is one of the reasons why cleansing is recommended in the Autumn Season to clean the slate preparing both the tissues and digestive system to take on the heavier qualities that balance Vata dosha and act as rejuvenates for the Winter months. If the body is already heavy or has lingering accumulation from previous seasons it can create mucous, heaviness or undesired density that can be alleviated with thoughtful preparation.
The winter months technically are a time of no dosha accumulation with this thoughtfulness in mind. However for many of us, especially in the northern region of the continental US we usually see increased Vata dosha which is why we consider these months the time for Vata pacification. Late Winter or early Spring we see greater rise of Kapha, and this is when we would shift gears for the months to come. Be sure to read our Kapha Dosha Diet so you are ready to observe the signs as the seasons change in a few months.
Vata Reducing Foods
The list below reflects Vata reducing options to incorporate in Autumn and Winter. Remember this does not take into account your personal constitution, but rather seasonal eating. Notice how many of these foods are still available at the farm stand or market. If you feel more support is needed contact us for a consultation that includes individual recommendations.
Each dosha has predominant tastes (rasa) that reduce the quantity of the elements that have accumulated. Due to the cool, dry, rough, mobile nature of Vata, tastes that are sweet, sour and salty help warm the system, add moisture, stabilization and keep the digestive agni feeling balanced throughout the cooler weather.
Seasoning food in the Winter can be more challenging if you are used to enjoying fresh herbs, but for garden enthusiasts its a lovely time to use dried herbs that you or friends grew in the Summer months. It is also a fun time to incorporate heavier, sweeter foods and warming spices that we often naturally think of in the Winter Holidays. Foods that are bitter, astringent and pungent should be minimized during this time as they increase lightness, dryness and mobility that can further aggravate those qualities that are already present in our environment.
amaranth, cooked oats, brown or white rice, wheat (yeasted breads are ok in moderation)
sweet fruits, baked apples, apricots, avocados, ripe banana, sweet berries, coconut, sweet cranberry sauce, fresh figs, fresh or reconstituted dates, grapefruit, grapes, mangos, lemons, nectarines, oranges, papaya, peaches, plums (avoid dried fruits)
Beets, carrots, leeks, greens, okra, cooked onion, parsnips, squashes, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and in moderation zucchini, radishes, peppers, peas, cucumber, eggplant and celery.
Beans & Legumes
mung, black gram dal, tofu, tempeh in moderation
butter, buttermilk, kefir, milk, sour cream, fresh yogurt
sweet mango chutney, mint chutney, tomato chutney, tamarind sauce
Nuts and Seeds
almonds soaked and peeled, cashews, pecans, pistachio, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds
for internal and external ghee, sesame, almond, avocado, coconut, flaxseed, sunflower, peanut
jaggery, maple syrup, molasses, rice syrup, sucanat, date sugar
anise, basil, bay leaf, caraway, cardamom, cinnamon, clove, cumin, dill, fenugreek, fennel, garlic, ginger, marjoram, mustard, nutmeg, oregano, pepper, mint, rosemary, saffron, sage, thyme, turmeric
Local Foods = Best Foods
There is a common misconception in Ayurveda that you have to consume only Indian foods and herbs. Not true! Ayurveda focuses on finding balance in Nature and specifically within your close environment. An important practice emphasized repeatedly is to eat locally grown seasonal foods. While in the winter it can be more challenging look for your local farm co-ops to see what is available.
Or consider taking a trip to visit us in the tropics! We would love to share seasonal sweet fruits and garden grown vegetables supporting gentle cleansing and rejuvenation for you this winter season.
Vata Season Practice
Due to the natural accumulation of Vata Dosha as cooling dryness can take over the system its a good time to consider additional areas to support the body. This is the time to enjoy grounding practices like self oil massage, warm baths, adding healthy hydrating fluids and winter is the time to build strength. With the addition of heavier foods it is recommended to increase your movement and activity two fold. That means if normally you work out or run for 30 minutes over the winter season slowly build it up to 60 minutes. This practice helps build strength for the coming Spring and Summer when the heat slowly squeezes the body. It also helps protect us from accumulating excess Kapha dosha as we are in a building state with heavier more unctuous foods. Be sure to check out our seasonal outlines including free guides, workshops and longer programs to help you maximize self-care year round.
Do note that if digestion starts to feel sluggish during Winter due to heavier foods take a day to incorporate the Turmeric Digestive Chutney or a simple day of Kitchari. It can help give the body a break and bring digestion back on track.
Recipes for Vata Dosha
Some of our other favorite recipes for the season include our Creamy Garlic Beets and Greens, Sorrel Tea, Green Curry Boiled Breadfruit, Fenugreek Roti, and our Peanut Travel Chutney. There are so many more perfect for Autumn and Winter on our Recipe page, be sure to scroll through them to see what matches the foods available locally for you. If you come visit us for an in house program, most likely you will experience some of these delights.
Share with us your favorites!