How to make a balanced winter diet?
The ideal Ayurvedic diet and routines are based on patterns of nature. We are a part of this nature. Whatever happens in the environment also takes place in our bodies. We are individually, uniquely and intimately affected by changes of seasons. Each season has its own impact on the balance of doshas – challenges with respect to your health. To help each person adjust to this changing seasonal influences, Ayurveda recommends a seasonal-specific, daily routine and winter diet. So, to bring balance, here are some tips below.
Why your appetite is stronger in winter
In response to cold weather, the body constricts the skin pores and superficial connective tissue to prevent heat loss, which directs the heat away from the peripheral tissues and into the body’s core, including the stomach. So, Agni (the digestive fire) becomes stronger in winter.
However, if kapha or vata is aggravated, “digestive fire” or agni can drop, leaving you more susceptible to colds, poor circulation, joint pains, and negative emotions. Furthermore, the above are general recommendations and people with a specific health issue or an Ayurvedic regime should follow their practitioner’s advice and treatments.
A cup of herbal tea is good to improve circulation and eliminate mucus, while maintaining agni. It is made with 1 tsp. fresh grated ginger, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 5-6 peppercorns, and 5-6 sacred basil leaves with an optional pinch of clove, all boiled in 2 cups of water for 10 minutes on medium heat, reducing the water to 1 cup You can also add honey to the tea; never boiling honey or heating it to more than 50°C. You may also like to try our detox tea or warm stimulating tea. Other teas are calming tea and cooling tea. You can order herbal tea from us here.
Key things to remember for winter
- Keep your body warm.
- Take warm to hot showers and baths, if possible, with essential oils.
- Eat spicy food.
- Emphasise the use of ghee internally, and oil externally.
- Rasayanas (rejuvenative foods/ herbs) are recommended during the winter months. Ashwagandha is a good herb to know and use.
- Doing panchakarma at the junction between autumn and winter is highly advised, especially for people with kapha problems This deep cleansing and rejuvenation program helps to pacify vata and remove ama (toxins) from the body for recovering and maintaining health, as well as preventing disease. Regular panchakarma is one of the best tools used in Ayurveda to increase the longevity of the individual and improve the quality of life.
Winter Diet Tips
- Include fresh, organic, pure and wholesome food in your diet and lifestyle.
- Cook and eat foods that taste sweet, sour and salty.
- Eat less of the astringent, bitter, and pungent foods.
- Warm, unctuous (slightly oily) foods are essential for a proper winter diet. They can include soups, hotpot, stews, pasta, well cooked foods, root vegetables, casseroles, stewed fruits, milk products (e.g. cream, rice pudding), and nuts, especially almonds.
- Avoid processed foods, as well as canned, and frozen foods (throughout the year)
- Reduce raw foods, salads and dry foods.
- Avoid cold or ice-cold foods and drinks.
Winter Grocery List
During winter months, it is important to focus on grounding, nourishing, and oily foods. Ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg and clove are all spices that are beneficial to add in the diet. It strengthens digestion, circulation, and immunity. Some other suggestions include garlic, onion, chilli, honey, winter squash and root vegetables.
- Ghee – According to Ayurveda, the ingestion of Ghee is like offering the finest of fuels into the fire of digestion (Agni).
- Pepper corns – Black pepper is popular for its ‘pungent’ or hotness. Pungent quality stimulates the heart. Consequently, pepper is also a well-known cardiotonic. Black pepper improves circulation via vasodilation. It destroys mucous in the digestive track and sinuses.
- Mustard – Mustard seeds are warming, and pungent in taste according to Ayurveda. Mustard seed clears accumulations of food caused by low digestive fire. It warms the digestive system, stimulates digestive fire and clears sluggish congestion due to excess intestinal mucus
- Cumin – Ayurveda considers cumin as one of the best digestive tonics. Cumin seed is an appetizer, removes excess bile, and strengthens the stomach, liver and intestines.
In conclusion, diet is significant to our mind and body, irrespective of seasonal variations. You can also refer to our article on foods and healthy diet based on ayurvedic principles for more insights into this domain.