Are you one of those people who absolutely love winter and all it has to offer— the cold, clean air, snow, snuggly sweaters and warm, hearty food? Perhaps you are the opposite— you miss the warm sun basking on your skin, swimming at the beach, eating tropical fruits and ice cream, and you would rather buy a one-way ticket to say…Florida, Arizona or Costa Rica?
Well, there is a reason you are either one or the other, and in Ayurvedic medicine, this predetermined disposition is called your Dosha. Think of it as your “sign” in your horoscope.
What’s A Dosha?
There are three Doshas, and you can be one, a mix of two or even a mix of all three!
- Kapha: Strong build, strong stamina, large eyes, radiant skin, thick hair, regular digestion, sound sleeper, calm, thoughtful, loving, love routines, enjoy life, loyal, patient, steady, supportive, morning person
- Pitta: Medium size, excellent digestion, warm body temp, sound sleeper, strong sex drive, strong concentration, intelligent, good decision makers, good speakers/teachers, outspoken, direct, sharp-witted, night-owl
- Vata: Thin framed, agile, bursts of energy & then get tired, dry skin, cold hands/feet, light sleepers, sensitive digestion, quick to anger & forgive, love to try new things, creative, flexible, talkative, most active in afternoon
Seasons have Doshas too. The second half of winter and spring (cold and wet) is referred to as Kapha, while the cold and windy season during fall and the first half of winter is Vata. The hot and dry summer is what’s known as Pitta. Right now we are in Kapha season. It is cold and with the rain, sleet and snow this season brings, it can be downright miserable! There are some general principles to consider while in this season that will help make it a bit more bearable, no matter what your Dosha is.
What to Eat During Kapha Season
If your stomach is rumbling, that’s because your digestion is in overdrive, trying to fuel your body in order to keep it warm and keep you healthy. In order to sustain yourself, focus on eating warm, slightly oily, well-spiced foods. Avoid drinking anything cold, and instead stick to hot, or at least room temperature beverages.
See if you can balance out the tastes: sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter & astringent. Root veggies (ex. carrots, potatoes, onions, etc.), citrus fruits and cooked grains should become dietary staples. Winter is also a good time for meat consumption if you choose to incorporate this in your diet. Avoid cold, airy and damp foods (ie. salads, ice cream, cold cereal, etc.). Thick sweeteners are best if you need them (ex. honey, molasses).
Kapha’s: Stay Kapha-nated; Not Separated
As tempting as it is to “hibernate”, stay active! In order to find balance, develop a regular exercise program (ex. walking, running, yoga, etc.). You will also find that you will feel in better spirits if you can find some “outdoor time”, so if you can do your exercise outside, even better! Although you are warm-natured, ensure that you stay warm or this season will take a toll on your physical and emotional state.
If you find yourself a little down, throw on some bright colors and burn a candle or put on lotion that smells similar to sage, eucalyptus or even rosemary. This time of year, feel free to indulge in a cup of coffee to warm you up during or after an outdoor activity. If you can tolerate it “black”, do so, as adding sugar and dairy to your coffee will upset your Dosha.
Stick to your normal diet this time of year: pungent, bitter and astringent foods; and avoid sweet, sour and salty bites.
Pita’s: Be Pita-full; Not Pitiful
You are naturally warm-blooded, so you may find the cooler weather refreshing, but you still need to maintain the warmth in your body! With that said, don’t be afraid to enjoy the outdoor activities that are in abundance this time of year like skiing, hiking, and making a snowman. Try to remember that old adage, stay dry— wet and cold is “no bueno”. This time of year, your diet should have more bitter and astringent, and less sweet tastes. One thing of major concern for you is caffeine consumption, so watch your intake as this can upset your Dosha!
Vata’s: It Does Vata (Matter)
If you are forced indoors this time of year— carpe’ diem: start that blog you’ve been wanting to write, read that book you haven’t had time for, call that friend you said you’d call “tomorrow”, start a daily yoga practice; the list is endless! The important thing is that you keep yourself busy. A bored Vata is not a happy Vata.
Should the need to venture outdoors arise, bundle up your head, hands and feet. You, of all people despise cold the most and a cold, damp day is even worse! Your natural tendency towards sweet, sour and salty aren’t beneficial this time of year, so see if you can find foods that mix these tastes with the other tastes like pungent, bitter & astringent.