Ayurveda – Diet & Lifestyle for optimal Health

Ayurveda ( the Science of Life) is a very ancient discipline and sister of Yoga that teaches how to live in tune with Nature, the cycles of daylight/ night time, Sun/ moon and the seasons. When we live in sync with the Intelligence that regulates the universe ( from the infinitesimal to the infinite) we allow for natural healing, live long lives and don’t need medicines as our lives become our best prescription !

At the moment though, as a civilisation, we are completely regulated by artificial light and electricity and therefore have to make an effort to reset our biological clock to the cycles of natural light.

In this section i’m exploring the link between vitality, food and the seasons and how to mindfully reset our biological clock with the Macro Solar and micro Lunar cycles that regulate life on the planet. As far as diet is concerned  we should embrace local and seasonal fruits and vegetables as they contain optimum nutrition for that specific time of year.

Three Doshas: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.

The doshas are biological energies found throughout the human body and mind. They govern all physical and mental processes and provide every living being with an individual blueprint for health and fulfillment.

Three Doshas and the Five Elements

Three Doshas and the Five Elements

The doshas derive from the Five Elements and their related properties. Vata is composed of Space and Air, Pitta of Fire and Water, and Kapha of Earth and Water.

Winter Season: dosha, diet and lifestyle.

This is a time to rest, reflect, hold space, vision, hibernate, withdraw some of your outwardly-focused energy and redirect it inward.

Winter is primarily kapha season: days are cold, heavy, wet, overcast, and there is a  grounded, slow feeling  (many animals go into hibernation). Occasionally the weather can be cold and dry, or if you tend to feel more isolated during the winter months, vata can get out of balance.

In order to counter the cold weather and feeling of isolation and loneliness, in winter you’ll want to invite warmth  and create a sense of purpose, for example by setting clear intentions for the new cycle that is just started. Make an effort to embrace a slower pace. Alternate time to cultivate relationships and to socialise with some quiet time for reflection and introspection.

Winter is actually the season when Agni, the digestive fire, is strongest. The body requires more fuel to stay warm and healthy in the winter months, and the cold weather forces the fire principle deep into the core of the body – igniting the digestive capacity. Our bodies therefore need a more substantial, nutritive diet at this time of year, and you will likely find yourself eating larger quantities of food.

Therefore winter diet will be on eating warm, cooked, slightly oily, well-spiced foods. Drink room temperature, warm, or hot beverages and avoid iced  drinks.

Winter Food Mood Board

Winter Food Mood Board

Winter Veggies
Beetroot, Belgian Endive, Broccoli, Buttercup Squash,  Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage , Cardoon, Cauliflower, Celeriac, Celery,  Chicory, Curly Endive/ Frisee, Escarole, Fennel, Jerusalem -Artichoke, Kale,Leeks, Onions, Parsnips, Potatoes, Radicchio, Red Cabbage, Shallots, Sweet Potatoes, Swede , Turnips, Winter Squash.
Winter Fruits
Apples, Clementines, Dates, Grapefruit , Kiwifruit, Lemons, Oranges, Passion Fruit, Pear, Persimmons, Pomelo, Sharon Fruit, Tangerines
Winter Recipes

Winter Recipes to satisfy a strong digestive fire and pacify Kapha

Recipes on the board from top to bottom, Left to Right:

Beetroot salad with Granny Smith Apple, Carrots, Rocket and pinenuts / Pear, Spinach , Kale, Macadamia nuts and Pumpkin Seeds smoothie / Jasmine and Camargue Rice with Red,Orange and Yellow Pepper stir fry / Cavolo Nero, Celeriac veloute’ with Marcona Almonds, black sesame and coriander / Winter Roots Healing soup with Broccoli and Spinach /Belgian Endive , Celery and Watercess Salad with Pomegranate, Walnuts , Avocado and Lemon bites / Celeriac and Parsnip soup with Brussel’s Sprouts, Asparagus, and roasted Pumpkin seeds / Spelt with Carrots , Celery and Onions / Warming Roasted Chestnuts and Cinnamon, Cardamon, Ginger, Cloves, Black Pepper tea.

Autumn Season: dosha, diet and lifestyle.

Autumn is time for reorganising your inner space. The shift from summer to Autumn calls for celebrating ripeness ( harvest) and transitioning towards the end of a solar cycle , the year. Beginning in September we feel the need to become more essential, re focus and gather energy to approach with ease and grace the colder months ahead.

In Ayurveda mid September to mid November is called Sharat, Autumn Season .

Autumn is predominantly a cool season when Vata dosha ( Air + Ether) is dominant. Vata qualities are cold, light, dry, rough, and moving.

Vata is responsible for all movement in the body, nerve impulses, elimination of wastes, speech, respiration and other functions relating to movement. It’s main site is the colon, hence bloating and gas are often early signs of aggravation. Other signs include dry skin, constipation, irregular appetite, lack of sleep, stress and tiredness. Autumn is a time when we are especially vulnerable to Vata aggravation

Ayurveda balances the doshas (Kapha, Pitta, Vata, or a combination of them) with their opposites.

To bring Vata to balance , diet and lifestyle should be predominantly: grounding, warming and routine . For example warming, nourishing, and moisturising factors offset its coldness and dryness; routine and stillness offsets its quality of movement. Its important to balance Vata all year round, especially if it is your dominant dosha. However, we all need to pay attention to Vata in Autumn.

Autumn Food Mood Board

Autumn / Winter Food Mood Board

Autumn VEGETABLES

Artichokes , Aubergine, Beetroots, Belgian Endive, Broccoli, Brussel Sprout, Cabbage, Carrot, Cauliflower, celeriac, Celery, Chard, Curly Endive, Edamame, Escarole, Fennel, Garlic, Green Beans, Herbs, Horseradish, Jerusalem Artichoke, Kale, Leeks, Lettuce, Mushrooms, Okra, Onions, Parsnip, Peppers, Potatoes, , Pumpkins, Radicchio, Radishes, Rocket, Shallots, Spinach , Sweet potatoes, Tomatillos ,Turnips, Winter squash, Zucchini

Autumn FRUITS

Apples, Cranberries, Figs, Grapes, Lemongrass, Lime, Pears, Persimmons, Pomegranates, Quinces

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Cooking in season – Autumn warming recipes to pacify Vata

From the top L to R

Celeriac and Celery Soup with roasted Sicilian Pistachio and hazelnuts.

1 medium Celeriac

Stalk of Celery

1 Onion

1 large CArrot

Spoonful of Olive oil

Lemon Thyme

Sicilian Pistachio , Roasted

Hazelnut , Roasted

Chop the vegetable and stir fry them lightly in the pan for a couple of minutes, add the lemon thyme and put the lid on. Then add boiling water and an organic vegetable stock cube. Let boil until the vegetable are soft to the fork.

When ready separate the juice from the solids and blend the solids with a food processor. This way you will be able to adjust the thickness of your soup, making it into a veloute’ if you like and keep the broth for later use, or to thin it.

Serve with Pistachio, hazelnut and celery stalks

The other Recipes on the board from top to bottom, Left to Right:

Brussel Sprouts , Carrots and Green beans salad / Butternut Squash and Asparagus veloute’ / Celeriac , Parsnip and Carrot soup with pumpkin seeds and coconut bites / Green Lentil, Kale and beef tomato soup / Roasted Pear, Fig , Peach with cinnamon, cardamom and cloves / Beetroots , Carrot, sweet potato and pumpkin soup with Spelt / Butternut Squash healing broth with Rice Miso and mung bean sprouts.

 

Summer Season: dosha, diet and lifestyle.

During the summer months pitta dosha ( fire and water) naturally increases in the body and in the environment. Doshas are inherently influenced by seasonal variations, diet and lifestyles. For those with a pitta dominant constitution the summer can aggravate this dosha  leaving one feeling out of balance.

Summer Fruits and vegetables.

Summer Fruits and vegetables.

During the summer season our digestive fire reduces in the heat and, as a consequence, we will experience a decrease in our appetite. Since this is a natural response of the body we should honour this change by eating in moderation and opt for foods that are cooling in nature, with a bitter, sweet and astringent tastes .

Since our bodies are made up of 70% water, it is important to keep hydrated.  Drink plenty of water throughout the day which will keep the body hydrated and help flush away toxins out of the system. Our bodies will naturally require more liquids in the heat and although cool drinks are favourable, be careful not to douse the ‘agni’ by excessive cold drinks and ice during or after meals when strength is needed for meal digestion. It is best to cut down on the tea, coffee , alcohol and carbonated drinks which contribute to dehydration.  Mint tea , room temperature or cool drinks,  fruit juices and coconut water are favourable in this season.

During the Sumemr months eat light, fresh and favour raw food like salads

During the Summer months eat light, fresh and favour raw food like salads

Avoid over exertion and physically challenging exercise, instead opt for gentle walk in the breeze before and after the intense heat of the day, preferably near a beach or river or opt for swimming.  Practice gentle cooling yoga with slow movement. Postures such as seated spinal twists, standing poses such as mountain, warrior and forward bends are all favourable. Practice in a cool room or outdoors.

The herbs of choice for the summer months should be cooling by nature such as mint, aloe vera, coriander etc.

Breath work can help us stay cool! Pranayama techniques such as Shitali, Sitkari, Nadi Shodhana and Ujjayi have a cooling effect of  and calm the body and the mind.

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Stay Hydrated! Drink your fruits as juices and smoothies

What’s in season.

Vegetables in Season Now:

Radishes, Rocket, Cucumber, Beets, Bell Peppers, Fennel, Carrots, Zucchini, Garlic, Corn, Rhubarb.

Fruits in Season Now:

Apricots, Plums, Cherries, Blackberries, Blueberries, Nectarines, Strawberries, Raspberries, Gooseberries,  Peaches, Tomatoes, Passion Fruit, Melon, Lemon, Limes, Watermelon.

Spring Season: dosha, diet and lifestyle.

Spring feels like the real beginning of the year, when birth and rebirth are in the atmosphere and everything in nature starts sprouting and blooming. It is a great time to enjoy nature and also the best time to cleanse and rejuvenate both the Liver ( form any toxicity accumulated in Winter) and the Lungs ( from the mucus accumulated that begins to melt).

In spring, there is a predominance of kapha dosha in the atmosphere. The warmth of spring starts melting the accumulated snow from winter. Likewise, accumulated kapha starts liquefying and running out of the body. This is why people tend to get spring colds. At the same time, booming flowers shed their pollen, which can also aggravate kapha types or people with accumulated kapha, creating hay fever and allergies.

End of Winter to beginning of Spring. What's in season

End of Winter to beginning of Spring. What’s in season

In spring it is advisable to get up early and go out for a walk. Good types of exercise for this season are  vigorous forms that help to burn kapha. Naps aggravate kapha and slow digestion, so they should be avoided. As the days get longer and the activity increases, staying up later than usual is okay, but never in excess. Nighttime in spring is usually cool, so remember to stay warm and dry, and avoid sudden changes in temperature, as well as air-conditioned places.

To prevent kapha from increasing, during this season it is best to avoid heavy, oily foods and to minimize the intake of sour, salty, and sweet tastes. One should eat more foods with bitter, pungent, and astringent tastes.Large, heavy meals should be avoided. It is best to have three small, light meals and stay away from cold drinks and ice cream.

Spring Vegetables

Artichokes , Asparagus, Beetroot, Cardoon, Carrots, Fava Beans, Fennel, Garlic, Greens, Lemons, Lettuce, Mint, New Potatoes, Peas, Radishes, Radicchio, Rocket, Rhubarb, Spinach, Spring Onion, Sweet Onions, Swede , Turnips.

Spring Fruits

Apricots, Cherries, Grapefruit, Kiwi, Kumquats, Lemons, Navel Oranges, Strawberries, Rhubarb.

Spring Smoothies

from Winter to Spring Smoothies to facilitate Liver Detox

Transition Winter to Spring Smoothies. Liver Detox 

Top: Kale, Spinach, Pear, Hazelnut and Sprouts, Spring Water

Bottom: Pear , Strawberries, Spinach, Cashew nuts, Walnuts, Spring Water. Topped with Chia Seeds.

 

 

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