I sit at my desk in my library and watch the maple tree dance outside the window. It’s a mild October day, and the wind is blowing fast from the South. In Ayurveda, Vata (the combined elements of air+space) is increased when the weather is windy. This means I might experience heightened anxiety, feeling uncertain, unstable, and fearful, and I have a tendency to spend more time wrapped up in my thoughts.
My digestion is always aware of a windy, Vata day; if I haven’t eaten properly, I will most likely experience gas and bloating, especially in the afternoon (2-6pm) which is Vata time of day. I may also be awake sometime between 2-6am worrying about everything and anything.
How can one feel best during Vata season (which tends to be Autumn) or in Vata weather (cool or cold, moving/windy, dry, light)? Think about nurturing and nourishing yourself. Your digestion needs some TLC to counteract Vata’s effects. Food-wise, you need warm, soft, nutritious foods with plenty of liquid to keep your digestive system purring and prevent constipation, gas, or bloating.
I’ve included a short list below of suggested foods/prep methods as well as a skip it list. Also check out Dr. John Douillard’s LifeSpa Fall/Winter Grocery List to print out and stick on your fridge. I’ve had this list on my fridge for several years. It can help you figure out what kinds of ingredients to cook with.
Please remember that Ayurveda respects the individual. Everyone is different. For example, you may be able to eat plenty of beans or a raw salad with no problem, and your partner may need to give them a break for now. Pay attention to what you eat and how food makes you feel at different times of the year. You have sovereignty over your own health and by paying attention, you can experience a greater level of wellbeing.
The Eat It List
- Eat warming, soft foods, root vegetables, and brothy soups and stews.
- All the winter squashes and pumpkins–yum!
- Meat, eggs, and fish are all good this time of year (if you eat them).
- Cook your vegetables. Steam, roast, sauté your veggies or put them in soups or stews.
- Make fruit compotes or crisps, bake your apples.
- Hot cereals are encouraged for breakfast! Baked or stovetop oatmeal, quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat. Try a new recipe, a different grain (if you tolerate grains).
- Yes to dairy or non-dairy milks, yogurts, cheese, etc., depending on what you tolerate.
- All nuts and seeds are good (only if you’re not allergic, of course).
- Drink warm or room-temperature water. Cold water and food slows your digestion.
- Teas and drinks with warming spices and moon milks, golden milk, raw hot cacao are comforting.
The Skip It List
- You may need to skip legumes this time of year, especially larger beans & peas, as they may cause digestive distress.
- Skip cold, raw salads and veggies (unless you have a strong digestion).
- Same for cold smoothies, protein shakes, etc. If you can’t give up smoothies, bring the ingredients to room temperature before drinking.
- Dry, cold snacks and treats like crackers, chips, hard cookies, etc. may promote constipation
My recommendations for Vata Season foods are suggestions based on my own experience as well as what I’ve learned studying Ayurveda in the last four years. Please only do what is right for you. You know your body, what you can or can’t tolerate, what you’re allergic to, etc. Please consult your healthcare provider with any concerns or questions about food choices.
By following a seasonal diet, based on the part of our planet that you live in, you will become more aware of and connected to the natural world, which we are all part of. And you may experience greater balance and wellbeing for yourself. If you’d like to read more, check out Banyan Botanical’s Seasonal Guide for Vata Season. Next week, I’ll talk about daily habits for Vata Season.