School of Ayurvedic Diet & Digestion
Do you live in the Southern Hemisphere? You may need the Ayurvedic Diet for April instead.
Yet despite the hauntings of Halloween, the coming cold and the warmth of the fireplace bring our attention indoors, cultivating a desire for home. We naturally want to cuddle up and enjoy time with loved ones, like a night at home watching a movie. The autumn season brings families together, ending with Thanksgiving.
Kapha types feel alive and refreshed by the dryness and lightness of fall, which whisks away excess moisture, heaviness and congestion of the hot humid summer. The dropping temperatures and longer nights will be their biggest challenge to combat in the days ahead. For Vata types, fall has the potential to be very imbalancing as it aggravates their dry, light cold and mobile nature. They will need to take the most care to prevent illness.
Kapha types may struggle more than usual with sweet and comfort food cravings this time of year. The season naturally triggers overeating, so watch out! Pitta individuals may find themselves ravenous this time of year. But they can afford to indulge on the heavier foods to feed their high metabolism after light meals all summer. They should follow their stomach's lead and enjoy the heavier foods to avoid getting "hangry."
Vata types will find their appetite is stronger, but unfortunately their digestion is still weak. They should drink a glass of warm water with a pinch of salt and ginger, and wedge of lime to hydrate their body before meals, which improves digestive function by up to 25%. Vatas should eat easy to digest foods and recipes to compensate for weak digestion.
October is an ideal time to avoid travel and change, as there is already a lot of change in the climate. Seek quality one on one time and affection with trusted friends. Share a meal, sit by the fire, host a craft night, or curl up with a good book and someone you love. It's best to avoid overstimulation, but too much alone time can invite anxiety and ungroundedness, too.
As mentioned, this is the most important time of year for abhyanga. Do this practice before showering to ensure soft, supple skin and improved immunity. Sesame oil is best for Vata types. Kapha types benefit from olive oil and Pitta types will do well with sunflower or coconut oil.
Keep warm! Dress in warm layers, get a good pair of slippers, chop firewood, dust off your winter boots. Get yourself and your living space ready for winter with whatever you need to stay toasty.
Add a squeeze of lemon or a splash of vinegar on top of your meals to bring in the juiciness of the sour taste. A dash of sour taste keeps the palate moist and digestion strong.
Eat your food warm - this means trading your salad in for a cozy soup, your apples for warm applesauce. Butternut squash, eggs, ghee, warm dairy, winter squash, root vegetables, nuts, seeds, bone broth and beef provide the nourishment your body needs to build a layer of protective, insulating fat before winter. Add generous amounts of good quality oils like ghee and coconut oil to your dishes. An almond date shake with cinnamon takes the edge off a chilly morning and is a hearty addition to any fall day.
Spicy foods may feel warm as you eat them, but they will dilate blood vessels in the skin, which could leave you vulnerable to catching a cold. Keep your heat in by avoiding especially spicy foods in fall, especially cayenne pepper and chilis. Otherwise, spices are okay as long as they don't make you sweat. Moderate use of spices like salt, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, black pepper, garlic, onion and thyme are actually helpful to digest the heavier foods of fall, as long as you are wearing warm clothing to protect your skin.
Cinnamon not only helps your hands and feet, it stimulates circulation throughout the body, especially in the lungs and joints. Its pungent spiciness warms up the lungs and liquefies mucus congestion. You may have noticed that when you make tea with cinnamon, a thick, gooey substance settles to the bottom of your cup. This gooey property is called demulcent among herbalists and helps you expectorate any thick, kapha like mucus adhered to the bronchial tubes. Cinnamon's demulcent nature means it also coats the throat, soothing it. For best results, gargle with cinnamon, or squeeze a wedge of lemon into an herbal tea with 1/4 tsp cinnamon.
Black pepper improves circulation via vasodilation. It is a carminative spice (expels gas) and is useful in cases of cold, Vata digestion. It is gently warming and digestive without being overstimulating or overheating like cayenne or chili pepper. You can add it, along with cinnamon, to your morning chai to get your blood flowing, your mind focused and your digestion fired up. Black pepper, turmeric and cinnamon are ideal fall spices because they won't make you sweat. Exercise caution with other spices that push heat to the surface - such as cloves. Their use for digestive effect may be helpful, but in excess causes loss of heat through the skin.
If you are prone to constipation, you may experience it more frequently in October as the dry, rough qualities of Vata season dry up the stools. You may benefit from sipping some Gentle Laxative Tea is a warm and strengthening tea to ensure smooth and regular elimination each day. Haritaki directly softens stools, relieving constipation and as it rejuvenates the colon. It helps remove excess Vata from the digestive tract, reduce gas and bloating and stimulate digestion and absorption. Haritaki also acts as a nervine, calming an aggravated nervous system and soothing the mind.
About the AuthorJohn Immel, the founder of Joyful Belly, teaches people how to have a healthy diet and lifestyle with Ayurveda. His approach to Ayurveda exudes a certain ease, which many find enjoyable and insightful. His online course Balance Your Ayurvedic Diet in a Week provides tools for gracefully healing with Ayurveda to thousands. John also directs Joyful Belly's School of Ayurveda , which specializes in digestive tract pathology & Ayurvedic nutrition. John and his wife Natalie recently published Explore Your Hunger: A Guide to Hunger, Appetite & Food.
John's interest in Ayurveda and digestive tract pathology was inspired by a complex digestive disorder acquired from years of international travel, including his public service work in South Asia. John's commitment to the detailed study of digestive disorders reflects his zeal to get down to the roots of the problem. His hope and belief in the capacity of each & every client to improve their quality of life is nothing short of a personal passion. John's creativity in the kitchen and delight in cooking for others comes from his family oriented upbringing. In addition to his certification in Ayurveda, John holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Harvard University.
John enjoys sharing Ayurveda within the context of his Catholic roots, and finds Ayurveda gives him an opportunity to participate in the healing mission of the Church. Jesus expressed God's love by feeding and healing the sick. That kindness is the fundamental ministry of Ayurveda as well.