Winter for Vata-Pitta and Pitta-Vata

Banyan friend, Krishna Deva


You will most likely want your routine to be a bit more vata-pacifying than kapha-pacifying, and you’ll want to take advantage of the cold, quiet nature of the season to calm and rejuvenate pitta. Of course, you can adapt your habits from day to day, according to your local climate or your personal state of balance. You may actually find it helpful to read both the vata and pitta sections for further suggestions on how to support vata and pitta respectively.

Foods to Favor

You’ll want to focus primarily on eating a vata-pacifying diet that does not disturb pitta. Foods that will generally support your efforts include avocado, sweet berries, cantaloupe, coconut, dates, figs, soaked prunes, soaked raisins, asparagus, green beans, parsnip, sweet potatoes, rutabaga, yellow squash, zucchini, most natural sweeteners, amaranth, cooked oats, quinoa, basmati rice, wheat, kidney beans, mung beans, tofu, butter, soft cheeses, milk, ghee, and sunflower seeds.

Acceptable Seasonal Indulgences

The winter months will allow you to experiment with eating spicier foods than you might normally tolerate. On an especially moist and cloud-covered day, you may even be able to enjoy some caffeinated tea, coffee or espresso (with cream and a natural sugar). You can also enjoy eggs and meat more than you might be able to at other times of year (buffalo is a great choice for you). And, since sweet, nourishing treats will calm both vata and pitta, try some Hot Spiced Chai or Maple Tapioca this winter.

Foods to Minimize

You may need to be careful with foods that aggravate both vata and pitta like cranberries, persimmon, burdock root, corn, eggplant, raw onion, radishes, turnips, millet, rye, and white sugar. If vata is high, shift your diet to include more oil, and plenty of warming, nourishing foods. If pitta seems aggravated, reduce your use of especially hot spices like cayenne, chilies, and dry ginger. Beyond that, watch for signs of increasing vata (gas, bloating, constipation, anxiety) or increasing pitta (acidity, diarrhea, rash, irritability), and adapt your diet accordingly.

Lifestyle Adjustments

You will probably benefit most if your primary attention is on keeping vata healthy. You can always change things up if a kapha imbalance arises, but in general, take advantage of the quiet, introspective and gentle nature of the winter. Prioritize a sense of routine in your life. Slow down, turn inward, rest, reflect, and rejuvenate. For exercise, there’s no harm in a bit of a challenge, but favor gentle and fluid forms of exercise. If you practice yoga, relax your tendency to look for perfection in your poses and focus instead on quieting your mind and relaxing your being, even in the midst of activity. You may also find that wrapping up your day around 10 p.m. will help you rest better and will prevent an overactive or restless mind at night. Get plenty of sleep this winter. This is a great time to replenish your reserves of energy.