As the weather cools down and the kids gear up for school, start thinking about changing up that summer diet to one that is better suited for the autumn, “vata” season. Begin favoring foods with sweet, sour, and salty tastes, think: rice, wheat products such as bulgur, couscous, pasta, cream of wheat. Warm milk, paneer (homemade cheese), lassi, honey, sugar, olive oil, ghee, sweet juicy fruits, well-cooked vegetables such as beets, carrots, asparagus and sweet potatoes. Nuts such as cashews, almonds, and pistachios are also good for Vata. Sesame seeds are especially balancing for Vata. Favor certain legumes: Red Lentils, Miso, Mung Beans, Split Mung Dal, Tofu (served hot), Tur Dal, Urad Dal.
When it comes to foods to start slowing down on consuming, think: dry cereals, cold or iced foods, barley, corn, buckwheat, rye, dried fruits. (Raisins are fine when soaked in water first. Dates are also fine.) Sour fruits such as cranberries. (Apples and pears are fine — when cooked). Avoid raw salads and raw vegetables. Beans should be avoided in general, except mung dhal, tofu, and green beans.
Sip plenty of warm beverages throughout the day: dosha herbal teas and water with lemon & fresh ginger, to get the agni (digestive fire) going and improve hydration.
In addition to following the above general dietary principles, your diet should ideally be adjusted to account for individual imbalances. For example, if you have a Kapha imbalance during Vata season, then your diet needs to take that imbalance into account. An ayurvedic physician can help design an individual diet plan for you.
One other thing to keep in mind as we head into Vata season is to keep your throat area warm, as this is generally an area of weakness during the autumn season. (Vata is associated with the element of ether, which is housed in the fifth chakra). Be sure and keep that scarf handy!
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