Winter for Pitta

Banyan Operations & Research, Erin Johnson


You may be among those who love the winter months. The cold, heavy, and slow qualities of the winter season balance your internal heat, lightness, and the sharp, penetrating nature of your mind. You can take advantage of the winter season to clear out any lingering pitta and truly reset your baseline for health.

Foods to Favor

Your body will probably do well following the aforementioned general recommendations for a winter diet. Foods that will be most complementary include: berries, soaked prunes, soaked raisins, asparagus, green beans, leeks, okra, rutabaga, amaranth, basmati rice, seitan, ghee, warm milk, and sunflower seeds. While you will be able to allow more spices than usual during the winter months, be sure to use plenty of your pitta-soothing allies: cardamom, cinnamon, fresh ginger, mint, parsley, saffron, tarragon, turmeric, and vanilla. Of the herb teas recommended for the winter, the CCF Tea (cumin, coriander, and fennel) will be the most supportive for pitta.

Acceptable Seasonal Indulgences

This is the one time of year when you can probably indulge in some of the heating foods that would normally be too much for your fiery nature: eggs, meats, an occasional glass of dry red wine, caffeinated teas, a cup of coffee or espresso, or a bit more fire and spice in your meals. You’ll also do well with some sweet, nourishing treats like Hot Spiced Chai or Maple Tapioca.

Foods to Minimize

While you can certainly eat them in moderation during the winter, be selective with sour heating foods like bananas, cranberries, grapes, grapefruit, pineapple, tamarind, cooked spinach, miso, hard cheeses, and sour cream. Fermented foods, trikatu, and the recommended herbal teas with dried ginger, cinnamon, clove, or black pepper may also prove too heating for you, especially if you tend toward excess acidity.

Lifestyle Adjustments

Chances are, your life already embodies a sharp sense of focus and purpose, so rather than enhancing those qualities this winter, see if you can ease into the softness of the season. Relax your expectations a bit, slow down, and be receptive to the gentleness ushered in by the winter season. A sense of routine will be very beneficial for you, as will cultivating time for stillness and solitude. For your morning oil massage, try Pitta Massage Oil, Daily Massage Oil, or Brahmi Coconut. The cold weather will support your athletic drive and allow you to push yourself a bit harder. Practice releasing any attachment to your level of performance and maintain an attitude of relaxed effort instead. For yoga, incorporate plenty of standing poses and twists, and nurture a sense of surrender with some forward folds. If you practice pranayama, favor Nadi Shodana (Alternate Nostril Breathing), Kapalabhati (Skull Shining Breath), and Bhastrika (Bellows Breath). In the evening, retire closer to 10 p.m., before your mind becomes activated by the heightened pitta at this time of day. After a full night of sleep, you may feel inspired to rise with the sun.