9 Signs of Autumn Imbalance and How Food Can Fix It
Along with the beautiful colors of changing leaves and delicious harvest vegetables of fall, come the shorter, colder, dry days of vata season. Vata dosha is naturally provoked through the increase of cold, dry, windy weather. Vata relates to wind, the principle of movement governed by the elements of ether and air. Just as the wind is subtle and changeable, the energy of vata dosha in the body is variable and strongly influenced by changes in the environment. One school of Ayurvedic thought believes that keeping vata dosha in check will reduce vitiation within the other two doshas and minimize the risk of disease. Balancing vata dosha with diet, lifestyle, herbs, meditation, and yoga creates a strong body-consciousness, allowing a person to live in harmony through both daily and seasonal changes.
When vata dosha predominates, there is an increase in the dry, rough, and cool qualities of our external and internal environments. In excess, dryness can begin to disturb various tissues and organs. Most noticeably, dry skin and lips are examples of excess vata. An internal drying can also be occurring particularly in the colon or large intestine, where vata is prone to first accumulate. Though we all notice the seasonal effects of autumn, people whose constitutions are vata-predominant and the elderly, who are in the vata stage of life, are most susceptible to this change.
Symptoms of Vata-Aggravation Are:
- Dry skin and lips
- Little or low appetite
- Scattered mind
Foods that are in season, such as root vegetables and winter squash, will help nourish and balance the body. Try carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, acorn, butternut, delicata, and buttercup squashes. These have the qualities of sweet, heavy, smooth, dense, and moist, and are most balancing for vata. To help pacify vata dosha, favor the tastes of sweet, sour, salty in your diet, while limiting bitter and astringent tastes.
Some sweet grains to include this season are basmati rice, wheat berries, brown rice, and sushi rice. Also, whole wheat pasta and or buckwheat udon noodles can be especially grounding for vata. Include ghee and other healthful oils such as almond, sesame, or sunflower for internal oleation, kindling agni, and increasing absorption.
When preparing food, use warming spices such as black pepper, dry ginger, cinnamon, and asafoetida to help to stoke the digestive fire. Casseroles, soups, and stews are easily digested and can be very nourishing for vata, warming the body from the inside out.