Choosing the right foods to eat has become extremely complex, controversial and confusing for most people. With promises coming from every angle of the food pyramid, from paleo to vegetarian to vegan to being gluten and dairy-free, making healthy food choices has become more confusing than ever!
In this article, I will describe the very simple and basic rules of eating according to nature’s harvest and your body type. Then, I will show you how to identify the superfoods that are right for your body type this winter when you might need them the most.
Ayurvedic Eating Rule #1: Eat Foods That Are In Season
It is really very simple. Print out the free grocery lists for each seasonal harvest, or in my book, The 3-Season Diet, circle the seasonal foods you like and eat more of those foods during that season.
Winter is governed by air, and is cold and dry. All body types should eat more nourishing and warming foods such as soups, grains and steamed veggies found on the Winter Grocery List. These foods are higher in proteins and fats, which have the purpose of insulating the body during the cold months.
Spring is governed by earth and water, and is usually quite wet and muddy with rain or snow-melt. All body types should eat more light and dry foods such as berries, sprouts and greens found on the Spring Grocery List to combat the heaviness and congestion that spring can bring.
Summer is governed by fire, and is, generally, hot and fiery. All body types should eat more cooling foods such as salads, smoothies and fresh fruit found on the Summer Grocery List to stay cool, calm and hydrated in the heat of the summer.
Fortunately, nature’s harvest of warming, higher protein and fatty foods in the winter help to balance its cold and dry extremes. After winter, nature harvests sprouts, berries and leafy greens to antidote the congestive tendencies of spring, and then cooling fruits and veggies in the summer to balance out the heat. Eating off of the seasonal grocery lists provides the perfect antidote for the extremes of each season to keep each body type balanced.
Ayurvedic Eating Rule #2: Adjusting For Your Primary Body Type
While each body type should change their diet for all three growing seasons or harvest, they must also emphasize seasonal eating during the season of their predominant or primary body type. Vata types in the winter, pitta types in the summer and kapha types in the spring must pay more attention to eating seasonally. Here are the rules:
- During the winter, cold and dry vata types must eat more strictly off the Winter Grocery List of warming and insulating foods to stay nourished and balanced.
- During the spring, easygoing kapha types must strictly follow the decongesting Spring Grocery List to antidote the tendency to gain weight, hold onto water and become congested.
- During the summer, hot and fiery pitta types must be extra strict to eat off the Summer Grocery List to stay cool and calm.
Ayurvedic Eating Rule #3: Identify The Superfood Season For Your Body Type
When you are in the season that correlates with your primary body type, such as winter if you are primarily vata, all the foods on the Winter Grocery List with an asterisk are going to be superfoods. The foods with asterisks on each of the grocery lists are the foods that are primarily grown in that season. The foods with asterisks will have more therapeutic qualities for the related body type during that season.
Ayurvedic Eating Rule #4: Identify The Winter Superfoods For Your Body Type
Superfoods for Vata Body Types in the Winter
Vata types are more sensitive to stress, which is processed through the intestines. This makes intestinal health and elimination a weak link for vata types. Winter superfoods for vata will provide more healthy fats to combat stress and support intestinal function.
While all the foods on the Winter Grocery List with an asterisk are superfoods for vata body types, there are a handful that really shine. Vata types should make an effort to eat more of the following winter superfoods during the cold winter months:
- Nuts and seeds are naturally high in protein and fat, and provide the much-needed insulation for vata types in the winter. They are high in omega-3 fatty acids and minerals, which are also important for vata types to store each winter.
- Animal proteins are very acidic in nature, and thus drive high-quality proteins and fats deep into the tissues storage sites. The acidity allows this to happen somewhat more efficiently compared to plant-based proteins, which are more alkaline.
- Olive oil is loaded with antioxidant polyphenols, which support healthy cardiovascular function and also act as a great winter insulator for vata body types.
- Avocados are about 85% fat and harvested during the winter in warmer climates, making them the perfect winter fruit. They are high in omega-3 fatty acids as well as carotenoids, which are powerful and natural antioxidants.
- Ghee is made up of butyric acid as its primary fat, and the microbes in the gut make butyric acid. This fat is the primary fuel for the colon cells, does the major driving of immunity and feeds other good microbes throughout the intestines.
- Licorice and Cinnamon Tea is a warming tea that lubricates the intestinal wall, boosts circulation and warms up the cold hands and feet of a vata body type in the winter.
- Ashwagandha is harvested in the fall and it is heavy, sweet and warm, thus the perfect antidote to winter. It also boosts endurance, stamina, immunity, and a stable mood – all much needed in the winter.
Superfoods for Pitta Body Types in the Winter
To find the superfoods for pitta body types in the winter, take both the Summer and Winter Grocery Lists and cross-reference them. Whichever foods are found on both lists become superfoods for pitta in the winter.
Pitta types are generally prone to inflammation, and this often takes place in the digestive system, sometimes leaving pitta types with a distended belly. The best superfoods for this will provide more fiber and help move more bile from the liver into the intestines. Bile is like a pac-man that gobbles up old toxic cholesterols and other toxins in the liver and intestines. If there is enough fiber in your diet, the fiber will attach to the toxic bile and escort it to the toilet. But without enough fiber, up to 95% of the toxic bile is re-circulated back to the liver with all the toxins in tow. Here are some of the most important winter superfoods and bile movers for pitta body types:
- Beets are loaded with constituents like betaine that boost bile flow and digestive enzyme production. They are also rich in the fiber needed to escort the toxic bile to the toilet.
- Artichokes are loaded with fiber, support liver function and are one of the best foods to increase bile production and help the body become a better fat burner.
- Kale is a well-known nutrient-dense superfood that is high in fiber and micronutrients to support liver function and detoxification. The high fiber content of kale requires it to be cooked in the winter to qualify as a winter superfood for pitta types.
- Apples are high in fiber which, again, helps escort the toxic bile to the toilet. Apples have high levels of malic acid, which opens up the bile ducts and flushes sluggish and congested bile out of the liver and gallbladder. In the winter, apples are also best cooked.
- Coconut oil is a cooling oil. Remember, pitta types are both hot and dry, much like a desert. Coconut oil helps antidote both the dryness of winter and the heat of their type. Coconut oil is rich in lauric acid, which converts to monolaurin in the gut where it acts like a microbial scrub for bad bacteria. It is also a great alternative fuel supply to sugar. It absorbs quickly into the blood and is readily available as a ketone to fuel the brain. This is great for post-meal sweet cravings!
- Chamomile tea is cooling and is also somewhat demulcent, helping to lubricate the lining of the intestines which has a tendency to get dry in the winter.
- Brahmi (Centella asiatica) is a nerve tonic that calms the nervous system and insulates the pitta types from damaging stress that is in excess in the winter.
Superfoods for Kapha Body Types in the Winter
Kapha types are generally heavy in nature and the harvest in winter is also heavy, so kapha types have to be careful to not eat too many heavy and rich foods in the winter. Kapha types also have a slow metabolism, so if they eat too much heavy food they can gain weight and become lethargic. Some of my favorite superfoods for kapha are:
- Mung beans are loaded with fiber to help escort toxic bile into the toilet, as well as to help keep the blood sugar and sugar cravings stable. They are also the only bean that has “anti-flatulence factors,” which means, unlike other beans, they are easy to digest and do not cause gas.
- Pumpkin seeds are loaded with zinc and magnesium, which are two very common nutritional deficiencies. Seeds are somewhat preferable in the winter over nuts because they are lighter and easy to digest. They are also high in the more active gamma-tocopherol form of vitamin E, which is great for cardiovascular health and circulation.
- Brussels sprouts are a well-known nutrient-dense superfood loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents. They are high in vitamins C and K, which support vascular health and circulation. They are also loaded with the fiber needed to ensure toxic bile makes it to the toilet.
- Grapefruits are rich in vitamin C, which boosts immunity and promotes healthy circulation. Pink grapefruits are high in an antioxidant called lycopene, which has been shown to support prostate health. The pith or white part of the grapefruit skin is high in constituents like diosmin, which has been shown to support vascular function and micro-circulation – which is in part responsible for cellulite and weak veins.
- Ginger tea is one of the best spices for kapha types in the winter. Ginger is warming, boosts circulation, strengthens digestion, and is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory for kapha types, who love a healthy boost of circulation and stimulation during the winter months.
- Turmeric is a warming spice that liquefies mucus in kapha types. Kapha types can become congested as a result of the dryness of winter.