Best Foods For Me Now...
Author: Linda Sinden Date Posted:11 March 2020
As the weather has become changeable one day warm and next day cooler I’ve noticed that I am wanting warmer foods. What have you noticed? The seasonal change is also seen about us as the leaves turn from green to their Autumnal shades of red, yellow and orange.
At the local farmer's market, the array of seasonal vegetables has begun to change with a colourful range of fruit and vegetables available for our delight! Autumn is definitely on its way.
To help prepare you for the seasonal changes that Autumn brings this week we will look at the best foods to favour during Autumn. Also, we will consider what you can do to support digestion as the stronger digestive power of Summer wanes and the more changeable influence of Vata dosha is felt. Now let’s get started!
Priority 1: Support Digestion
The health of your gut is now understood to be paramount in both supporting immunity and mental health and happiness. Ayurveda has known this for a very long time and it is somewhat of a relief to now have modern medicine understand this too. Ayurveda takes this understanding a further step and explains that the needs of your gut changes with the season. As Autumn is governed by Vata dosha and Vata dosha creates irregular digestion it is important to keep your digestive power strong at this time. As we move into Autumn consider adding:
- Herbal Digest 2 tablets before meals and Digest Plus 1 tablet after meals or if you have a sharp digestive power consider taking Digest Medium after meals.
- Bedtime take 1-2 tablets of Digest Tone to tone the digestion, support easy elimination and to protect against the build-up of impurities.
- To support your nervous system and immunity during this time take 2 tablets of Stress Relief at bedtime.
Priority 2: Choose Vata balancing foods
Best Foods for Vata Season
The foods to favour in Autumn help to balance the cold, dry, rough, light, changeable and airy or windy quality of nature. Thus in the following list, you will see comments that explain why a certain food is better either reduced or taken occasionally during Vata season which is in Autumn and Winter.
A mainly vegetable-based diet is too light for Vata season. Raw vegetables and salad should be taken moderately or in season (summer and spring), and with an oil dressing to balance the light and dry effect of raw food. Cabbage family plants – cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, kale, tend to cause gas. Mushrooms are diuretic and can be overly drying during Vata season. Raw onion is gas promoting which can increase the windy quality of Vata dosha within you.
Best: Artichoke, Asparagus, Bok choy, Carrots, Daikon radish, Green beans, Landcress, Leeks (cooked), Onions (cooked), Pumpkin, Sweet Potato, Summer squash (yellow crookneck, zucchini), Winter squash (acorn, buttercup, butternut), Watercress
Occasionally: Broccoli, Burdock root (cooked moist), Cassava, Collards, Corn (fresh), Cucumber (seedless), Gourd squash, Jerusalem artichoke, Jicama, Kale (well cooked), Lettuce, Mustard greens, Parsnips, Plantain, Radishes, Spinach, Sprouts, Taro Root, Turnip greens, Winter squash (spaghetti)
Fruit is best taken in moderation, seasonally and eaten away from other foods. Most seasonal fruits are beneficial during Vata season, as they are pleasant, harmonising, clearing and increases body fluids. The main exception for Vata Season is dry fruit, which is particularly gas forming - as it aggravates the dry and rough qualities of Vata causing an increase of gas. Too much fruit during Autumn and Winter can increase ungroundedness, lack of concentration, lack of will power and other high Vata traits if it becomes one of the central foods in the diet.
Best: Apricots, Avocado, Bananas, Berries, Cherries, Coconut, Dates, Figs (fresh), Grapefruit, Kiwi, Lemons, Limes, Mango, Melons, Oranges, Papaya, Peaches, Pineapple, Plums, Rhubarb, Soursop, Tamarind, Tangerines
Occasionally: Apples, Cranberries, Dried fruits (cooked), Pears, Pomegranate, Quince, Raisins (cooked)
Most whole grains are good during the Vata season. They are both nourishing and heavy which helps to balance the light quality of Vata dosha. Vata diseases can be alleviated by a long-term whole grain diet. Cooking them with 1 tsp of ghee or oil alleviates the drying effects of grains. Grains that are drying (diuretic) in excess can aggravate Vata. Also, bread (made with yeast), aggravate Vata as yeast causes gas. Dried grains such as Granola and most chips such as corn chips aggravate Vata.
Best: Basmati rice (white or brown), Brown rice (all grains or sweet), Oats (whole cooked), Wheat berries, Sushi rice (white)
Occasionally: Amaranth, Barley, and Quinoa
Legumes, Beans, Peas
Most beans strongly aggravate Vata (causing gas) and are drying, promoting constipation. Therefore they are cooked with spices to reduce the drying and wind effect such as asafoetida, fennel and cumin.
Best: Aduki beans, Mung dhal (split or whole), Tofu cooked, Toor dhal
Occasionally: Black chickpeas, Muth beans, and Urad dhal
Nuts and Seeds - soaked are best
Occasionally: Almonds, Brazil nuts, Cashews, Chestnuts, Pistachios, Macadamia, Pecans, Pine nuts, Pumpkin seeds, Sesame seeds (roasted), Sunflower seeds, Walnuts
Best: Buttermilk, Cow’s milk (organic), Cottage cheese, Ghee, and Yogurt which is homemade and eaten within 1 day of being cultured. Shop bought yoghurt is best avoided.
Occasionally: Cheeses, hard or soft, Goat’s milk, Ice cream, homemade, Sour cream,
Avoid: Dairy products, commercial or powdered
Best: Brown rice syrup, Brown sugar, unrefined, Dates, Fruit juice concentrates, Honey, raw and uncooked, Maple syrup, Sucanat, Sugarcane juice
Occasional: Barley malt, Dried fruit, cooked (apricots, bananas, papaya, peaches, pineapples, raisins)
Avoid: Honey (cooked), Sugar substitutes (saccharin, Sweet ‘n Low, NutraSweet), White sugar
Best: Almond, Sesame (dark or light), Sunflower, Ghee (clarified butter)
Occasionally: Coconut, Mustard, Olive, Safflower, Soy, and Walnut
Oils being warm and moist are a primary means of lowering high Vata. Sesame Oil and clarified butter or Ghee are the preferred oils with vegetable oils tending to be too light.
Herbs, Spices and Flavourings
Best: Vata Churna Organic - Tasty seasoning spice blend to pacify and soothe Vata.
Almond extract, Anise, Asafoetida, Basil, Bay leaf, Black cumin, Black pepper, Caraway, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Cloves, Coriander, Cumin, Curry powder, Dill leaves or seed, Fennel, Garam masala, Ginger (dried or fresh), Kudzu, Mango powder, Mustard seeds, Nutmeg, Oregano, Paprika, Peppermint, Pippali, Rosemary, Saffron, Sage, Savory, Spearmint, Tamarind, Tarragon, Thyme, Turmeric, Vanilla
Occasionally: Cayenne, Cilantro, Curry leaves, Fenugreek, Garlic, Horseradish, Mint, Parsley
Avoid: Garlic (raw), Extremely bitter and astringent herbs and spices
Tip: Favour warm food and drinks that you naturally enjoy and eat according to hunger. Next week we will explore the lifestyle choices you can adopt to balance Vata dosha during Autumn.
Wishing you the bliss of balance this Autumn.
Linda Sinden and the Get Balance Team