Eating Seasonally: An Ayurvedic Approach
Ayurveda is one of the world's oldest and most powerful mind-body health systems. Meaning “the science of life,” Ayurveda teaches that the body and mind are connected and that nothing is more powerful or healing to the body than harnessing the power of the mind. Breaking free from the grasp of illness depends on the ability to find an inner quiet to refresh and restore balance within the body. This balance helps to decrease the production of stress hormones, slow your heart rate and create an inner stillness. In Western Society, we are accustomed to a four-season calendar. In Ayurvedic practice however, they are three “doshas” or seasons, known as Vata, Pitta and Kapha. While these three doshas govern our own constitution, they also depict the universe we live in. Nourishing the mind, body and spirit with the changes in the universe can help us to stay healthy, energized and focused throughout the year. The beauty of nature is that it provides the ideal harvest for each season of life. In the cold seasons we crave warmth. In the spring we crave bountiful foods like leafy green and berries. In the summer we crave cooling foods like fresh fruits and vegetables.
We are in the midst of the Vata season which spans from late fall to early winter. As the body adjusts to the cooling temperature and drying air, we can turn to food to warm and nourish our bodies. This season is also characterized by change. Change in our skin from the drying air and a change in our digestion with the fluctuating pace of life. As we transition from the back-to-school stress to the anticipation of the holiday season, the shift in energy can leave us feeling depleted, overwhelmed and over stimulated by all of the excitement ahead.
During the Vata season, it becomes even more essential to intentionally stoke our internal fire. Warming foods like stews, soups and root vegetables often sneak into our cravings, and for good reason. These foods offer warmth for our bodies in a time when we are battling the dropping temperatures surrounding our external beings. Sipping on warm milk or tea or cozying up by the fire with a good book becomes a soul centering experience during the Vata season.
Sticking to a routine during the Vata season can also help to keep you centered amongst the chaos. Ensure that you are taking time to turn inward daily through practices like restorative yoga and meditation. Practice self-massage with warm oil to balance your nerves and lymphatic system. Initiate a regular schedule for sleep, exercise and meals. It may even be helpful to sleep with a warm humidifier to keep your sinuses clear. Take time for self-care and embrace the ever-changing seasons of life.
Here are a few of our favorite nourishing meals for the Vata season: