Winter for Kapha

Banyan Graphic Designer, Jamie

Winter is a time when kapha dosha is likely to be elevated, leading to feelings of congestion and stagnation in the mind and body. If kapha is part of your inherent constitution, a kapha imbalance at this time of year is even more likely.

To keep kapha balanced this winter, you will want to counter kapha's cold, damp, heavy qualities with elements of heat, dryness, and light.

Foods to Favor

Even though wintertime necessitates some substance and nutrition, kapha responds well to eat light, dry foods. Use 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.
  • Favor the pungent, bitter, and astringent tastes.
  • Opt for astringent fruits like apples, cherries, cranberries, peaches, pears, pomegranate, and raspberries.
  • Eat as many vegetables as you like and enjoy a wide variety of well-cooked legumes.
  • Enjoy light, dry grains like amaranth, barley, corn, millet, dry oats, basmati rice, and rye.
  • Honey is the best sweetener for you, but should not be added to hot liquid until after it has cooled some, since it is best ingested in its raw form—not cooked or aggressively heated. Sip on warm water with a little honey throughout the day.
  • If you do have dairy occasionally, favor heated goat’s milk and small servings of cottage cheese.
  • Snacking between meals is not recommended for kapha, but if you do snack occasionally, favor something light and dry like pumpkin or sunflower seeds, rice cakes, or popcorn. 

Acceptable Winter 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

  • Do your best to avoid snacking and too many sweets—especially late at night.
  • 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.
  • Reduce your consumption of 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.