Ayurveda seasonal foods for Autumn
Ayurveda is a holistic health system that looks at all aspects of our life, so that we can balance body, mind, and spirit. Ayurveda also aims to prevent disease by teaching us the importance of managing and adjusting our diet and lifestyle according to the seasons. This blog looks at the seasonal foods we should be incorporating into our diet during the Autumn season.
This ancient science splits the year in three main seasons; Summer, Autumn, and Winter. Each season is dominated for one of the three primary life forces in the body, which we call Doshas. These are Vata, Pitta & Kapha.
It is these three main doshas that create the constitution of our bodies. In fact, we are born with one or a mix of these doshas as our unique dominant, ‘finger-print.’
Each dosha is very strongly linked to the five elements and the four seasons of the year, as you can see in this little diagram.
|VATA||Air / ether||Autumn|
|KAPHA||Water / Earth||Winter / Spring|
Characteristics of the Autumn transition
Autumn is the season of the year that carries us from the hot Summer to the cold Winter. During these months the temperatures gradually decrease. The hours of day light reduce, the balance between day and night shifts to shorter days and longer nights.
Where leaves fall from the trees as they go into Winter rest. The green colours of the Summer are transformed into beautiful shades of yellow, orange, red, purple, and brown.
Autumn is an important transition of the year. As we begin to naturally withdraw, our bodies require more fuel to keep warm. So, it’s important to adjust and change certain foods accordingly to the time of year to meet these natural demands of our bodies.
We only must see around us the change in the seasonal foods available. These seasonal foods offer us what we need for the transition from the Summer to the Winter.
As well as our diet, you should also change other aspects of your life, including your physical yoga practice according to the characteristics of the season. You can read more about this transition in our blog, Holding your ground this Autumn.
Vata the windy dosha
The attributes or characteristics of Vata (wind or air) are primarily dry, cold, light, subtle, rough, and mobile (movement) or agitated. These characteristics are visible to us in nature…the drying, cooling, lightening and agitated properties of the wind. Attributes we naturally associate with Autumn.
When our Vata is balanced we demonstrate characteristics that are energetic and enthusiastic. Our mood is good and accepting.
However, because Vata dominates the Autumn season, the qualities of Vata naturally also dominate the season. Not just in our environment, but also in our body and mind. And because of this we’re more likely to experience an imbalance (especially if Vata is our predominant dosha!)
The symptoms of the Vata dosha being imbalanced include:
Difficulties with sleep, experiencing dry skin, hair, and nails. Possible loss of weight. Increases in levels of anxiety. Experiencing flatulence and constipation. Being more ‘airy’, ungrounded and easily loosing focus.
A Vata pacifying seasonal diet for Autumn
So, what should we eat to sustain balance in our bodies during Autumn? Ayurveda guides us to counterpose the increased qualities that accompany the characteristics of Vata.
Avoiding cold, dry, and light drinks and foods. Instead replace with hot and warm drinks and heavier and oilier foods.
Ayurveda also recommends us to increase foods that are oily, heavy, warm, sweet, sour, and salty and eat less pungent, bitter, and astringent tastes.
Here’s a few recommendations to include in your diet to help keep your Vata balanced.
- Warm Soups like miso soup and vegetable broths.
- Nuts: almonds, walnuts, brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, peanuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios.
- Fruits: cooked apples, avocado, dates, figs, grapes, kiwi, oranges, rhubarb.
- Seeds: hemp, chia, flax, pumpkin, sesame, sunflower.
- Food supplements: bee pollen, amino acids, calcium, cooper, iron, magnesium, spirulina, vitamins A, B12, C, D, E.
And essential fatty acids in cold pressed oils from hemp seed, seaweed and flaxseed, and flaxseed (linseed), hemp seed, olive oil, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, walnuts, and leafy vegetables.
- Legumes: mung beans, mung dhal, tur dhal, urad dhal, (NOTE: all legumes must be soaked for long periods and well cooked).
- Fresh Vegetables: Radish, red cabbage and dark leafy greens, asparagus, beets, carrots, cucumber, fennel, garlic, green beans, green chillies, leeks, okra, olives, onions, parsnips, peas, sweet potato, potatoes, pumpkin, radish, zucchini, watercress. (NOTE: Avoid raw vegetables)
- Oils: ghee, olive oil, sunflower oil
- Condiments: gomasio, lemon, lime, mustard, seaweed.
- Grains: whole amaranth, cooked oats, quinoa, seitan, sprouted wheat bread, basmati rice.
- Spices: asafoetida (hing), basil, bay leaf, cardamom, cayenne, cinnamon, clove, coriander, cumin, dill, fennel, fenugreek, garlic, fresh ginger, mustard seeds, nutmeg, paprika, parsley, mustard seeds, poppy seeds, rosemary, saffron, star anise, tarragon, thyme, turmeric, vanilla.
Drinks and sweeteners:
- Beverages: fruit juices, vegetable milks, whole milk.
- Herbal Teas: chamomile, clove, elderflower, fresh ginger, lavender, lemon grass, liquorice. (Avoid cold tees)
- Sweeteners: stevia, honey, jaggery, molasses, maple syrup, raw sugar.
Vata meals to eat during Autumn
Perhaps you are thinking… What can I eat at meal times during Autumn? Here’s a sample vegetarian / vegan menu to give you a few ideas!
- Porridge (cooked oats) seasoned with cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg with chia and linseeds, mix nuts and dates.
- Wholemeal toast with avocado, tomatoes, cooked kale with lemon and gomasio on top.
- Poha (Spicy Indian breakfast)
- Chai tea or breakfast tea with sweetener (if desired).
- Brown or white rice, red lentil dhal and cauliflower and potatoes subji. Spread lightly with melted ghee (omit ghee if vegan).
- Vegetable Thai curry with seaweed, marinated tofu and rice noodles
- Boiled quinoa, stir-fried vegetables with tempeh.
- Vata digestive tea
- Pumpkin soup (or sweet potato soup) spice with cumin and paprika seasoning (to taste) salt, and pepper
- Miso soup or mixed vegetable soup
- Baked sweet potatoe with vegetable chilli served with ghee or olive oil
- Ginger tea.
We hope you find these guidelines useful, and they help you to enjoy and maintain a healthy and balanced diet, incorporating warm, spicy flavours of Autumn. The important message is to tune into the natural rhythms of your body and eat warming, seasonal foods that mother nature lovingly provides.