Fall Bounty: Vata-Balancing Foods for Fall

Vata season in general is from October through February, starting in most parts of the country when the weather cools off and leaves turn color and fall off the trees, and 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 Vata 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 Vata season to avoid increased Vata 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 a Vata imbalance and should preferably be avoided during this season.

Try beginning the day with a warm stewed apple, cream of wheat cereal, and warm milk. Lunch may include a vegetable curry or warm, cooked vegetables with a dash of Organic Vata Churna, 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, well-cooked vegetables such as beets, carrots, asparagus and sweet potatoes. Nuts such as cashews, almonds, and pistachios are good for Vata. Sesame seeds are especially balancing for 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. An ayurvedic physician can help design an individual diet plan for you.

Vata Balancing Recipes

Gingered Carrots

Squash Curry

Lemon Rice

The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.