Soothe This Winter With Ayurveda
It’s that span of the year again. After the brisk vibrancy of spring, pursuant continuity of monsoons, mellow gentleness of the autumn, it’s the time for the quiet stale winter.
According to Ayurveda, the year is divided into a span of 6 seasons, starting with Sisira the late winters to Hemanta the early winters. The early winters start from mid-November and follow into late winters by mid-January. As the days shrink the cold stretches out.
As the body prepares for this drop in temperature, you find yourself craving for heavier foods that are abundant in layers of fat. Your body prioritizes keeping the body core warm and your limbs are on the chill, silently pruning the blood flow to the extremities. As the central core is always kept warm, your digestion is strong enabling you to process the richer foods that you crave.
To achieve a perfectly healthy and balanced life, it is necessary to maintain that rhythm within the seasonal swaps. Once you have understood your intrinsic factor and its variations alongside the seasonal fluctuations, it will be easier for you to make healthier choices of lifestyle and diet that can optimise your immunity, metabolism and your core energy with respect to Ayurveda.
In ayurvedic terms winter is considerably and primarily a Kapha season with mild Vata influence. For this very reason, as both the entities have Seetha property we crave for frequent hot and pungent dietary sources to curb the chill. Despite it being a Kapha season we still need our essential oils to keep us warm and to subside that drying Vata out of the way. To provide the needed internal warmth, we can use warming drugs at the staples levels as well as spice strata.
Acharya Vagbhata in the epic Ashtanga Hridaya explains some recipes that can be included in the winters while incorporating more Madhura (sweet), Amla (sour), Lavana (salty) flavours in the diet. The dishes that can be consumed in this season are meat soup topped with ghee, meat of healthy animals, beverages prepared with molasses and rice flour, pastries prepared with wheat, rice flour, black gram, sugarcane juice and milk products which are delicious and nourishing, fresh rice from new paddy, sesame oil and marrow can all be used effectively.
Considering their explanations offered in Sarvanga Sundara commentary of Ashtanga Hrudaya, Commentator Aruna Dutta clearly explains the importance of Meat for its sweet taste and metabolic end effect while having Usna potency. Wheat and black gram have Guru (heavy) properties with Vata alleviating capacity while offering strength to the body. He also mentions the importance of the use of Jaggery along with Sugar Beet juice as they both have a sweet taste with sweet metabolic end effect. On further scrutiny, we can understand that Asava and Arishta are termed under the title of molasses beverages that offer the much needed warmth from within due to Usna potency, with Pramathi or ability to clear clogged body channels properties.
Now How Can We Incorporate These Guidelines To Choose Our Diet In This Modern Day?
We can start by using warming spices while cooking staples like meat or country wheat preparations including stale breads with spices like Ginger, Cinnamon, Pepper, Turmeric, Garlic, Clove, Asafoetida, Basil, Star Anise, Nutmeg etc. The credible use of spiced teas may be used to warm the body frequently, like ginger tea or cinnamon tea.
Looking at a broader aspect we can include underground vegetables in multiple forms as they are good sources of carbohydrates. Sweet Potatoes and kale can be given a salad twist, or you can prefer carrots and kale soup all your choice. The very famous Indian khichdi,the rice and lentil preparation is a great source of sweet metabolic end effect with Vata aliivating properties and usna potency, which is highly acclaimed even in Sarangadhara Samhita.
Potatoes can be used in multiple ways such as curries, fries, soups, wedges or even waffles. It is advised to cut on the content of saturated oils but you can make use of unsaturated oils like coconut or olive oil for your cooking purposes. Do keep in mind to add that hint of pungency to aid your optimal digestion at the same time.
Well-seasoned meat soup of a healthy land animal is also a wonderful option even with respect to classical guidelines. You can often opt for sea foods such as crab, shrimp or lobster which are also good sources of hot potency. You may combine it with wheat or rice preparations such as poha or lemon rice, which are also a good source of essential oils. Try to avoid thick curd as much as possible but if you can’t resist you can consider spiced buttermilk for a drink.
As for drinks, Spice coffee, Cinnamon milk, Garlic milk and turmeric infused golden milk is a wonderful choice, it is a rich source of antioxidants and at the same time offers wholesome winter immunity support as well.
Those who are into baking can consider playing around with cinnamon and ginger infusions while working with wheat pastries. The very famous Christmas time treat, gingerbread cookies can be a good healthy snack between the winters, which is a beautiful blend of Usna potency, sweet metabolic end effect and which offers Kapha support, all beautifully wrapped in flavour.
Other than these ground roasted, spiced nuts are an over the top snack for the winters. It may be considered as one the best snacks during this season, as it offers all that are mentioned and essential according to the Ayurvedic classics. These small packets of joy are a storehouse of essential oils, while providing you the much needed warmth from within and offering to keep the Kapha and Vata under check, it also provides strength to the body at tissue levels.
While we have so far discussed the possibilities of enraging the flavours and thinking beyond the monotonous recipe line for the winters, it is always necessary to accomplish these with respect to your Agni or digestive power.
The digestive abilities do vary from person to person and from cuisine to cuisine. While considering all the dietary regulations it is also necessary to manage your lifestyle modifications with the same gusto, to achieve the complete upshots of the winter Ritucharya.
So eat healthy and stay healthy this winter.
Dr. Meenakshi Chauhan
MD (ALT. MEDICINE) View Profile