Ayurvedic medicine indicates that as seasons change, so should our diet.
But an Ayurvedic diet custom-tailored for the winter months is quite different than what we might eat during the summer.
Each season, nature has a different effect on the body—just as it does on the plants, animals, and earth.
We can honor nature’s influence by shifting our diet to balance the effects of the shifting seasons. This is one of the most important ways we can maintain internal balance and promote our well-being.
We’ll explore the 3 major Ayurdeva body types, how an Ayurvedic diet can benefit us, and what Ayurvedic foods you should eat during the winter.
What Is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is a holistic healing system developed in India over 5,000 years ago. In fact, it’s one of the oldest healthcare traditions in the world. And it’s still going strong today.
Its focus is on restoring balance to the mind, body, and spirit to promote good health.
Today, it’s used for a variety of health purposes, including weight loss, symptom management, and disease prevention. Ayurveda typically prescribes food and herbal medicines to help maintain abundant health.
What Are the 3 Ayurvedic Body Types?
The three Ayurvedic body types, or doshas, are Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.
- Vata reflects the elements of space and air.
- Pitta reflects the elements of fire and water.
- And Kapha reflects the elements of water and earth.
The doshas are energetic forces of nature. Each dosha governs a specific set of physiological functions.
Ensuring that a person’s doshas are balanced is an important practice in Ayurveda.
Can Ayurveda help you lose weight?
Ayurvedic diets are meant to promote good health and follow the 3 body types, or doshas. According to Ayurvedic medicine, you should eat according to your dosha.
And while Ayurvedic diets aren’t specifically designed to help you lose weight, they can be used to introduce new healthy habits into your life.
When we eat in accordance with our doshas and the shifting seasons, we give our bodies the nourishment they need to thrive in any circumstance.
How Can a Winter Diet Benefit Us?
The more closely a species adhere to their natural evolved diet, the healthier that species will be.— Eric Edmeades, trainer of Mindvalley’s WILDFITQuest
Winter is commonly referred to as the ‘cold and flu season.’ Viruses abound and we might think it inevitable to survive the winter without getting sick ourselves.
But winter doesn’t have to be a time of sniffles and persistent sneezes.
In fact, Ayurveda teaches us that we’re actually at our strongest in winter. We’re our healthiest, most resilient selves in the cold season — that is, if we eat and take care of ourselves properly.
To understand how this works, we simply have to look to nature and seasonal fire.
What is seasonal fire?
Summer heat scorches the earth. It sucks up moisture and brings dryness and sweltering temperatures. Plants and grass turn brown, and animals seek shade and lessen their activity levels to conserve their energy.
Summer has a similar effect on the human body. It heats our bodies, causing us to sweat and become dehydrated. We feel lazy and scale back our activity: a natural reaction to the hot summer sun.
Ayurveda explains that during the summer months, the body has less digestive fire. In an attempt to keep ourselves cool, we are less active and crave light, cool foods, like salads and fruit juices.
We avoid intense exercise during the day when the sun is at its hottest. We nap when our energy levels are low.
But come winter, it’s a different story. Nature gives us energy. The earth is cooled with cold weather, rain, and snow.
In order to balance the coolness of nature, the body drives up its heat. The digestive fire burns brightly and our appetites increase. The body requires a higher caloric intake to keep itself warm.
What to Include in an Ayurvedic Winter Diet
A healthy winter diet is one that nourishes the body.
Food should be nutritious, warm, and filling. We must consume healthy fats and carbohydrates that nourish mamsa and meda: the muscle and fat tissues.
We can also get away with eating bigger portions as part of our winter diet because our digestive fire is stronger.
What to include in your winter diet:
- Warm foods and drinks like soups, stews, and hot teas
- Moderate amounts of healthy fats like ghee, coconut, and olive oil
- Legumes like lentils, mung beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, and black beans
- Heartier grains like brown rice, quinoa, and wheat
- Cooked seasonal and grounding vegetables like sweet potatoes, winter squashes, pumpkin, carrots, rutabaga, and turnips
- Warming and digestive spices like ginger, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, anise, fennel, ajwain, basil, bay leaves, rosemary, oregano, sage, parsley, and black pepper
- Warming sweeteners like jaggery, molasses, and honey
In general, we should balance out the cold of winter with warm food and drink, and give the body the nourishment it needs with nutrient-rich foods.
To maintain a powerfully functioning digestive tract despite a heavier diet, we can season our meals with spices that help stoke the digestive fire.
As with absolutely everything in Ayurveda, balance is key. Variety is important. Always seek nutrition that makes you feel good.