Winter for Kapha

Banyan Graphic Designer, Jamie

 

When kapha dosha is elevated, either as part of your inherent constitution or as your current state of balance, you will want to be more attuned to kapha's qualities this winter, clearing and invigorating the heaviness of kapha to prevent congestion and stagnation in the mind and body. 

Foods to Favor

Even though wintertime necessitates some substance and nutrition, you will be able to eat lighter, drier foods than most. You’ll want to favor the pungent, bitter, and astringent tastes, using your diet to stoke the digestive fire, maintain heat, liquefy mucus, and draw excess moisture out of your system. In general, eat less than you might feel inclined to, utilize a generous selection of tasty spices, and do your best to avoid snacking and too many sweets—especially late at night. Opt for astringent fruits like apples, cherries, cranberries, peaches, pears, pomegranate, and raspberries, and eat as many vegetables as you like. Honey is the best sweetener for you, but should be added after liquid has cooled some, and is best ingested in its raw form, not cooked or aggressively heated. Sip on warm water with a little honey throughout the day and enjoy lighter, drier foods like amaranth, barley, corn, millet, dry oats, basmati rice, rice cakes, rye, tapioca, popcorn, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and a wide variety of well-cooked legumes. If you do have dairy occasionally, favor heated goat’s milk and small servings of cottage cheese.

Acceptable Seasonal Indulgences

Meat and eggs can often disturb kapha, but the winter months are actually a good time to enjoy these foods in moderation. The best animal foods for you are chicken and turkey (light meat), rabbit, freshwater fish, shrimp, and venison. You’ll want to be mindful of your sweet tooth overall, but you can have a light sweet treat on occasion—perhaps some Warm Maple Tapioca made with goat’s milk, or some Hot Spiced Chai. On an especially damp and heavy day, you might also treat yourself to a cup of coffee or espresso.

Foods to Minimize

Cook with very small amounts of oil and substitute water, if necessary, to prevent sticking. Minimize heavy or watery fruits and veggies like avocado, banana, coconut, dates, figs, pineapple, plums, cucumbers, olives, parsnips, sweet potatoes, and summer squash, and reduce your consumption of sugar and dairy products. Go easy on starchy, heavy, or oily foods like wheat, flours, breads, cooked oats, pastas, nuts, kidney beans, soy beans, and urad dal. Be careful not to overhydrate, especially if your climate is humid or wet. Do your best to avoid cold or frozen foods (especially frozen sweets like ice cream) and iced drinks, as these will invariably compromise your agni (digestive fire).

Lifestyle Adjustments

Find ways to stay motivated and engaged with your life. Approach things with a light heart, laugh often, and embrace change. Invite clarity of mind, a sharp sense of focus, and a feeling of lightness into your life as antidotes to winter’s cloudy, slow, and heavy qualities. One of the most important things you can do for yourself is to stay active. Your constitution gifted you with a great deal of strength and stamina, and the winter is a fabulous time to put it to use. Your exercise routine can be rigorous and stimulating. Keep things fresh and interesting by changing up your activity or your exercise routine regularly. If you enjoy yoga, you can practice more vigorously than any other body type, incorporating a quick flowing sequence with expansive arm movements, chest openers, and back bends. Finish your practice with a short rest in a restorative pose like Reclining Bound Angle (Supta Baddha Konasana) or Savasana with Support. And finally, combat your tendency to oversleep by going to bed between 11 p.m. and 12 a.m. and getting up by 7 a.m., if not earlier.