Vata season in general is from October through February, starting in most parts of the country when the weather cools off and the leaves turn color and fall off the trees, ending with the onset of spring. Vata is associated with a windy, dry, and cold climate. As our external environment changes, it increases Vata in our own internal environment. This is when it is time to change our daily routine and diet so they are in tune with the physical changes in the environment. By living in tune with the natural laws of the season, we can maintain a sense of balance, and we will be able to build a stronger natural immunity against the bugs that tend to attack during colder weather.
During the season it is important to maintain regular routines of rest and activity and to eat warm and unctuous foods. If you already have a Vata imbalance, then extra attention to routine and diet are crucial during season to avoid increased imbalances such as restlessness, insomnia, constipation, dry skin, and worry.
The most important general principle for everyone regarding diet during Vata season is to have warm, cooked foods. Since Vata is cold, dry and rough, warm, cooked foods made with a little olive oil or ghee have a wonderful soothing effect that immediately calms down restless Vata. Warm drinks such as hot milk or Organic Vata Tea also have an immediate balancing affect. Warm, unctuous food seems like such a simple recommendation to keep Vata in balance, but with our fast-paced schedules it is often overlooked. Cold sandwiches, cold salads, and dry cereals with cold milk are the types of foods that can create an imbalance and should preferably be avoided during this season.
Try beginning the day with warm stewed apple, cream of wheat cereal, and warm milk. Lunch may include a vegetable curry or warm, cooked vegetables, rice with ghee, and mung dhal soup. Suggested snacks include Organic Vata Tea with a chapatti (flat bread made of wheat), dates, or fresh fruit, or warm milk with your favorite flavoring. Coffee and other caffeinated drinks can be Vata-aggravating and should be avoided. Dinner may include a warm hearty soup and bread. Before bed a cup of warm milk with a pinch of ginger and some sugar or honey is recommended for sound sleep.
Foods to favor during Vata season:
Foods with sweet, sour, and salty tastes — rice, wheat products such as bulgur, chapati, couscous, pasta, cream of wheat. Warm milk, paneer (homemade cheese), lassi, honey, sugar, olive oil, ghee, sweet juicy fruits, and well-cooked vegetables such as beets, carrots, asparagus and sweet potatoes as well. Nuts such as cashews, almonds, and pistachios are good. Sesame seeds are especially good for balancing Vata.
Foods to reduce:
Dry cereals, cold or iced foods, barley, corn, buckwheat, rye, dried fruits. (Raisins are fine when soaked in water first. Dates are fine.) Sour fruits such as cranberries. Apples and pears are fine when cooked. Avoid raw salads and raw vegetables. Beans should be avoided in general, except mung dhal, tofu, and green beans.
In addition to following general dietary principles, your diet should ideally be adjusted to account for individual imbalances. For example, if you have a Kapha imbalance during Vata season, then your diet needs to take that imbalance into account.
At Esme and Sita, we have two Vata balancing items: Vata nourishing massage oil and Organic Vata Balance Ayurvedic Tea. The massage oil is great to use in the Fall and Winter. Massage yourself about 30 minutes before your shower. Ayurvedic Tea is a lovely tea made with Organic Tulsi (Holy Basil), organic chamomile, organic licorice, organic fennel, organic cinnamon, organic cardamom and organic ginger. Enjoy and keep warm.