Winter is the season to enjoy sweets, heavy spicy food, and an immense variety of fruits and vegetables that roll into the market. It is a time to relish the segional dishes like makki ki roti, aloo parathas, gajar halwa, hot rasam, and more.
Digestion depends on the digestive fire Jatharagni. According to Charaka, the famous Ayurvedic physician, in winters, this digestive fire becomes stronger in individuals with a robust constitution and gives them the capacity to consume heavy food. However, continuous exposure to low temperatures may slow the metabolism. To combat this, Ayurveda shares seasonal food wisdom to keep you healthy. The secret of well-being lies in maintaining a balance of an individual’s dosha with the predominant energy of winters. This is achieved by consuming the right type of food every season.
The seasonal regime in Ayurveda is not just limited to food but covers all aspects of an individual’s lifestyle and his/her dosha that regulates the metabolism. Winter is a kapha and a vata season depending on the geographical location of the place.
Rooting on the Roots
Root vegetables like carrots, beets, potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, turnips and radish that grow underground are excellent for winters when the vata energy is predominant. Rich in Vitamin C, these vegetables boost immunity.
Experiment in varied ways to include them in everyday meals. Roasting, boiling, steaming and pickling are great options.
Stock on Protein
Protein is an essential body requirement in winters. No wonder, traditional winter foods include groundnuts, broken wheat, sesame seeds, and dry fruits. Beans, lentils, milk and milk products are good sources of protein. Gram, maize, moong, and masoor are dense in energy and beneficial in winters. Khichari cooked with vegetables is a winter delight. Planning everyday meals with one protein dish can take care of the protein requirement.
Ghee is a vital food in any Ayurvedic diet. It helps to assimilate the nutrients and maintain the healthy gut bacteria that promote digestion. This healthy fat needs to be consumed in just the required quantities. Remember the traditional serving spoon for ghee is tiny. That’s the right amount of ghee for you.
Fibre or the roughage is essential to optimise the digestive function in the winters. The many varieties of beans, legumes, green vegetables grains are good sources of fibre. Millets like bajra and makki can also provide roughage.
Herbs and Spices
Cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, turmeric, nutmeg, cloves, black pepper, carrom seeds, kalonji or onion seeds. are great for winters. These spices are often added to the laddoos in traditional recipes. Conventional spice blends for pickles are a combination of cumin, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, asafoetida and onion seeds (kalonji).
Make a fresh vegetable pickle by combining cauliflower, carrots, radishes, fresh peas and green chillies. Roast and grind fenugreek seeds, cumin, carrom seeds and add mustard powder. Heat oil and add this powder. Then add a pinch of turmeric and asafoetida, add the vegetables and close the gas. When cool, add lemon juice and salt. It lasts for two to three days if stored in the fridge.
Sitting in the sun in winters is a pleasure and wonderful for getting adequate vitamin D. It keeps the aches and pains away and also enhances digestion.
Exercise in any form is essential in keeping the body warm and aid digestion.
Dry body brushing, oil massage, and warm water baths are recommended.
Excessive consumption of dry and cold food in winter is harmful and should be avoided. It is termed as Kala Viruddha ( Climatic antagonism ) in Ayurveda. We need to consume warm food.
Avoid commercially packaged foods, canned foods, frozen foods these are stale, old and difficult to digest. Consuming leftovers and food grown with chemical fertilizers and pesticides can stress the digestive system and clog the energy of the body. These foods create sluggish digestion leading to the accumulation of toxins leading to diseases.
Cut small pieces of fresh ginger and soak in lemon juice. Add rock salt. Eat a piece of ginger half an hour before meals.
Drink warm water and herbal teas.
Include Amla chutney or pickle.
Consume ghee and jaggery after everyday meals.
Roast 2 tbsp. of sesame seeds and fennel seeds each and grind. Consume a tsp of this powder after meals.
Black carrot Kanji enhances digestion and is a great probiotic.
Environmental scientists and nutritionists are encouraging people to eat local and seasonal food. Ayurveda had figured this out a long time ago. By eating fresh local and seasonal products, we safeguard our health and also protect our planet. Follow these suggestions to enjoy the seasons.
(Nupur Roopa is a freelance writer, and a life coach for mothers. She writes articles on environment, food, history, parenting and travel.)
(This story was auto-published from a syndicated feed. No part of the story has been edited by The Quint.)
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