Winter is coming, and in Ayurveda that means the season of Vata – light, airy, and dry, among other things. There is a propensity for individuals, particularly those experiencing a Vata imbalance, to feel ungrounded. As the seasons change, here are some good general rules to follow, especially if you are someone who’s prone to a Vata imbalance:
This season of change, dominated by cold, dry Vata, draws us toward heavier foods that grow in or near the ground as we look to warm and prepare the body for winter. This is the time to step away from raw or lightly cooked dishes and think about things that are slow, warm, and substantial.
Ojas is the positive form of the Kapha dosha. In other words, it’s the antidote to an overabundance of Vata. Ojas-building foods for fall include root vegetables like carrots, beets, or turnips, as well as other things like squash or pumpkins. Think about things that grow on or near the ground. Eat vegetables (and fruits, which pumpkins and squashes technically are) that touch the soil where they grow. These heavier foods will help create that crucial grounding and warming sensation that carry us through the Vata season with added stability and groundedness. See below for a few more tips for getting the most out of your autumnal Ayurveda diet.
Who Needs Grounding Foods?
Everyone, but especially people who are experiencing a Vata imbalance. This can manifest itself in the form of symptoms like cold, dry skin; anxiety; and weight loss.
What Should You Eat?
Root vegetables: Parsnips, carrots, beets, rutabagas, sweet potatoes, yams, onions, garlic, shallots.
Foods that grow near the earth: Pumpkins, squash, zucchini, leeks, asparagus.
When To Eat:
Anytime! But try to eat slowly and in a peaceful, stable environment if possible. You’ll want to eat regularly and avoid fasting to balance out the lightweight qualities of Vata.
Why It Helps:
Foods that are nourishing, served warm, moist, and tend toward sweet or salty flavors and smooth textures will bring out more grounded Kapha energy. These foods help maintain proper weight, hydration, and body temperature.
Where to Purchase:
Many farmers’ markets extend into October, November, and even December; otherwise, check the organic section at your grocery store. Make sure to buy fresh, not frozen, as the goal is to maximize warmth and combat the cold with your diet. For a detailed chart on seasonal fruits and vegetables, check out our chart here! Bonus: it’s printable, so hang it on your fridge to remember to add some of these foods to your grocery list.
How to Prepare:
Slow cooking is essential for these denser fall foods. Anything with a rough raw texture, like shallots and onion, needs extra attention to make sure it is cooked till soft. One ideal cooking method is oven roasting. Any combination of vegetables can be prepared this way--make sure to roast them with plenty of oil (try olive or coconut) to balance Vata’s dryness. Another great method is the slow-cooked soup or stew. Use a slow cooker or a big pot to simmer ingredients for hours, bringing out their softness. Don’t forget to drink plenty of fluids, and supplement these ingredients with hearty grains (like rich, dense bread) and spices (think nutmeg and cloves).
These simple cooking methods maximize ease and relaxation and bring warmth to your house and your diet.