Ayurveda recognizes winter as a Kapha season with strong Vatta undertones. It is characterized by cold weather, a sense of heaviness, increased moisture, cloud-covered days, and the grounded, slow feeling that sends many animals into hibernation. These are all qualities shared by Kapha dosha, which is why winter is primarily a Kapha season.
However, if your climate is exceptionally cold and dry, or if you tend to feel more isolated during the winter months, vata will also be a vital component of your winter season, and you will want to keep Vatta in place actively.
Supportive Winter Diet
Winter is the season when the digestive fire is most potent. The body requires more fuel to stay warm and healthy in the winter months, and the cold weather forces the fire principle deep into the core of the body—igniting the digestive capacity.
Our bodies, therefore, crave a more substantial, nutritious diet at this time of year, and you will likely find yourself eating larger quantities of food.
A supportive winter diet will be pacifying Kapha without increasing vata or vice versa. For many, appropriate winter dietary habits come quite naturally.
- You’ll want to focus on eating warm, cooked, slightly oily, well-spiced foods, favouring a balance of the six tastes.
- Drink room temperature, warm, or hot beverages and avoid iced or chilled drinks, if possible. You can increase heat and circulation while encouraging clean and clear respiratory passages by drinking a tea boiled for five minutes with ½ teaspoon each of dried ginger, cinnamon and clove.
- Cumin, coriander and fennel tea encourage healthy digestion and can be taken after meals or sipped throughout the day.
- Hearty, heating vegetables like radishes, cooked spinach, onions, carrots, and other root vegetables are well-received this time of year. They are hot spices like garlic, ginger, black pepper, cayenne, and chilli peppers.
- Cooked grains like oatmeal, cornmeal, barley, tapioca, rice, or kitchari make a terrific breakfast; lunches and dinners of steamed vegetables, whole wheat bread mushy soups are ideal.
- Legumes are usually good for Kapha, but they should be well-cooked, well-spiced, and garnished with a dollop of ghee to not aggravate Vata.
- Winter is also a great time to enjoy eggs (especially poached or hard-boiled) and meats like chicken, turkey, and venison if you eat them.
- While dairy is best reduced in the winter months, a cup of hot, spiced milk with a pinch of turmeric or dried ginger and nutmeg before bed can encourage sound sleep and not be overly congesting.