With the shift of seasons comes a shift in diet. As the weather gets colder, our bodies crave warm foods. We find ourselves consuming more soups and stews to provide us with the nourishment we need during these cold months.
The Ayurvedic approach to eating takes this seasonal shift into account when planning our diets. This ancient healing system asks us to take into consideration not only what we eat, but also how it is prepared (if at all) and when it is eaten in order to achieve optimum health throughout each season of life.
Although these shifts may seem difficult to manage, there are many ways we can make diet changes to accommodate our changing needs.
Here 10 simple Ayurvedic tips you might try over the next few months:
- Enjoy meals earlier in the day than later; ideally breakfast within 1-2 hours of waking and dinner around 6 pm.
- Be mindful not to drink water or other liquids with meals, as this dilutes digestive enzymes. Wait at least 30 minutes after eating before drinking anything.
- Prepare foods that will nourish and warm you such as soups and stews (with bone broth for added nourishment), sweet potatoes, bitter greens like kale, root veggies like carrots and beets, ginger tea, etc.
- As the weather gets colder, we wear more layers of clothing; make sure your diet is heavy enough to match these extra clothes! Warm salads (such as wilted spinach) are a good way to provide the necessary “weight” without getting too weighed down.
- In order to prevent the common cold and flu from invading during this time of year, Ayurveda recommends consuming warming foods such as black pepper, ginger root, red chili peppers, cayenne pepper, garlic cloves, onions, ghee (clarified butter), cardamom seeds (decoction), and cinnamon. These foods not only help ward off illness but also improve digestion which can be compromised during the cold winter months.
- If you’d like to drink alcohol, choose red wine and/or liquors that have warming qualities such as tequila or bourbon. Avoid lighter-colored drinks that will cool your system down.
- This is also a good time to expand your list of spices available for cooking; adding new flavors can help keep the palate interested and excited about trying new foods.
- When it comes to foods, try filling up on “heavy” vegetables such as potatoes, turnips, rutabagas, carrots, and winter squash rather than raw leafy greens or fruit.
- Ayurvedic practitioners recommend some supplements and herbs that may be helpful during this time: Triphala is a supplement known to support digestion and help with anorexia, especially when paired with Vata-balancing spices such as cardamom and cinnamon. Ashwagandha can be used in tea or supplement form to reduce Kapha dosha (a governing principle of Ayurveda that controls water/fluids in the body) while simultaneously strengthening Vata dosha.
- Finally, Sattvic eating is also an important principle in Ayurvedic medicine which encourages consumption of fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables along with avoiding foods that are processed or contain chemicals. The idea behind this principle is to keep the body pure by not consuming any toxins to burden it. This helps build a greater resistance to the flu and common cold.
Because this time of year can be difficult for our bodies to adjust, it’s important that we take extra care with what we eat, as well as how and when. Try My Healthy Digestion There are many things we can do to support the changes occurring within us and ensure a healthy winter season and I hope these Ayurvedic tips are helpful!