Winter for Vata

Banyan Visuals Manager, Maggie

If you have a high amount of vata in your system, you might have mixed feelings about winter. The kapha aspects of winter (heavy, slow, cloudy, and damp) might not aggravate you nearly as much as its vata qualities (cold, wind, and dryness).

To balance vata dosha during this season, it is favorable to focus on countering winter’s vata qualities.

Foods to Favor

You will want to eat a heavier, oilier, more substantive diet in order to ground, lubricate, and nourish your system.

  • Favor the sweet, sour, and salty tastes and warm, soft, foods that are well-cooked and well-spiced, but not fiery hot.
  • Most sweet and heavy fruits, including avocado, will be well received by your body.
  • Vegetables and legumes are a little trickier as most of them are quite drying. Cook them well, be generous with oil, and favor asparagus, beets, carrots, chilies, green beans, mustard greens, okra, olives, onion, parsnip, sweet potatoes, spinach, summer squash, zucchini, kidney beans, mung beans, well-spiced tofu, miso, tur dal, and urad dal.
  • Most dairy products are good for vata during the winter months, though hot milk, ghee, and cottage cheese will be the most supportive.
  • Vata-types can freely partake of amaranth, cooked oats, quinoa, brown rice, basmati rice, wheat, most meats, all nuts and seeds, most oils, and all spices during winter.
  • Generally, most natural sweeteners are good for vata, though honey, molasses, and jaggary are especially beneficial because of their heating nature.

Acceptable Winter Indulgences

The heaviness of winter and the added strength of your digestive fire will probably allow you to indulge in some foods that you might not normally tolerate—an occasional bowl of bean soup, a caffeinated tea, a cup of coffee or espresso (with cream and sugar).

Sweet, nourishing treats will also support your system in the winter months. Consider trying some Hot Spiced Chai or Warm Maple Tapioca (made with cow’s milk unless you’re experiencing a kapha imbalance).

Foods to Minimize

  • Avoid astringent fruits like pears, pomegranate, or dried fruits. Apples are acceptable if they are cooked and garnished with ghee.
  • Minimize your intake of barley, corn, millet, oat bran, dry oats, popcorn, rice cakes or crackers, rye, pork, rabbit, venison, and leftovers.
  • Most beans (except those mentioned above) should also be reduced.
  • If you can, avoid white sugar, raw vegetables, iced drinks, and frozen foods like ice cream altogether during the winter months.

Lifestyle Adjustments

One of the surest ways to keep vata happy this winter is to establish a predictable routine. Get up and go to bed at roughly the same time every day. Eat meals at regular intervals. Develop habitual patterns with work, exercise, and other obligations. Massage your skin with warm Vata Massage Oil or Sesame Oil every day, if you can.

The winter months will allow you to push yourself physically more than you might be able to at other times of year. Just be careful not to overdo it.

If you practice yoga, move mindfully and gracefully, include a couple of restorative postures, and wrap up your practice with a long Savasana (Corpse Pose).

Winter is a critically restorative time of year for you, so try to resist any temptation to overbook yourself. Instead, take advantage of the slow, quiet nature of the winter. It's the perfect time to replenish lost stores of energy and embrace a certain stillness in your life.