According to Ayurveda, the three doshas—Vata, Pitta, and Kapha—are biological energies that are present throughout the human mind and body. The doshas regulate all physical and mental activities in your body, which affect your well being. Each dosha is a combination of two elemental forces. Vata is a combination of Space and Air, Pitta is a combination of Fire and Water, and Kapha is a combination of Earth and Water.
Each season is associated with a dosha. Kapha is predominant in spring, Pitta in summer, and Vata in winter. The summer heat increases your Pitta, whereas the winter cold increases your Vata. It is necessary to maintain a balance among the 3 doshas throughout the year to stay healthy.
The Vata dosha is the energy that controls bodily functions such as heartbeat, blinking, breathing and blood circulation. If this dosha is not in balance, you can experience fear, anxiety, colds, joint pain, and insomnia. There are different foods that can help balance your Vata during the cold, winter months.
1. Warm Soups And Drinks
Since Vata is associated with the cold and dry characteristics of winter eating cold foods will tend to increase your Vata. In order to balance it you need to consume warm, nourishing foods. Soups with lots of vegetables, especially legumes, lentils, beets, onions, carrots, and pumpkin are highly recommended. Sipping warm herbal tea will help keep you calm and balanced during the cold winter season. Avoid carbonated drinks, cold coffee, iced tea, soy milk, and alcohol.
2. Warming Spices
Spices that are hot can pacify your Vata and can provide you with the warmth and energy required for the cold winter seasons. You can season your foods with spices like cloves, fennel, black pepper, ginger, garlic, nutmeg, oregano, basil, cumin, cinnamon, and turmeric to beat the cold. Use chilli powder, cayenne pepper, and horseradish in moderation.
Even though you can consume some sweet, nourishing, raw fruits for balancing your Vata, you can cook some fruits for additional benefits. Cooked fruits will be easier to digest and can provide you with more warmth than raw fruits provide. You can have apples, ripe bananas, papaya, grapefruit, oranges, peaches, chicory, lemon, cherries, and berries. You should avoid fruits that have astringent or cooling properties, especially dried fruits.
4. Dairy Products
Almost all types of dairy products are good for your Vata. Favor products like ghee, goat cheese, milk, and cottage cheese. Ghee is especially good for Vata dosha as it is heavy and oily. It lubricates the digestive tract and helps in the proper elimination of waste. You can add spices like nutmeg and cinnamon to warm boiled milk to get maximum benefits. Avoid frozen yogurt, ice cream, and highly processed dairy products like milk powder.
5. Nuts And Seeds
Nuts are considered good for Vata due to their oily, nourishing, and heavy characteristics. They offer a wide variety of fats and proteins that help balance your Vata dosha. You can consume all types of nuts such as cashews, coconuts, almonds, hazel nuts, Brazil nuts, pecans, pistachios, sunflower seeds, walnuts, and sunflower seeds. Since nuts can be heavy on digestion, consume them in moderation.
The grains that are preferred for the Vata dosha should be nourishing, easy to digest, and generally sweet. Cereals should be consumed less often. Consume cooked oats, rice, wheat, seitan, and quinoa and avoid muesli, corn, dry oats, tapioca, buckwheat, rye, wheat bran, barley, and millet.
7. High Quality Oils
The oils consumed during winter seasons for Vata should be heavy and easy to digest. Such oils aid in digestion and excretion. Mustard oil, castor oil, sunflower oil, olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, and ghee are favorable.
During the rough winter months try and keep a fixed routine for your meals, drink plenty of warm fluids, stay warm, go to bed early, and avoid stimulants to keep your Vata in balance.