Ayurveda and Foods that Bring Balance in the Fall

Brrr…it’s getting chilly out there. Windy too. What to eat to stay in balance now that autumn is in full swing and winter is just around the corner?

Our bodies have different needs with each passing season. When it’s hot, we wear shorts and sandals. When it’s cold, we bundle up. This seems so natural to us, and we automatically make these adjustments. 


Inside our bodies, different needs are arising with each season too. If you’re tuned in, you can hear what your body is asking for. By giving your body what it’s asking for, you’re helping to ensure that you stay healthy. 


We need different foods in the fall than we did in the summer. This is the vata time of year. The qualities of the season are cold, dry, mobile (due to wind), rough. These qualities will increase in body and mind if we don’t take measures to counterbalance them, especially in those with a vata constitution or imbalance. 


So what to eat? Ayurveda is based on applying opposing qualities. So, to balance the predominate qualities of this season, choose foods that are warm, moist, stable, smooth. A nice bowl of warm soup with root veggies is a much better choice right now than a cold salad. Snack on nuts and eat lots of whole grains. Baked or roasted potatoes, yams, sweet potatoes, carrots, acorn squash and winter squash are delicious meal choices. Spice your foods with warm (not hot!) spices such as turmeric, basil, oregano, marjoram, fresh ginger, clove, rosemary, garlic, cinnamon, cardamom (and always use spices in your food to help ensure you digest the food well). Sip on teas of these spices. Make sure you have enough internal lubrication by adding ghee, sesame oil, almond oil to your foods. 


A great breakfast for balancing vata is oatmeal with butter or ghee, cinnamon, cardamom, salt. Sweeten with honey, and add your choice of milk. All of this only if your digestion is healthy and it agrees with you, of course! There’s always many factors to consider and individual differences, so these are just general guidelines.


And remember to pause throughout the day to become grounded. Slow down and enjoy the natural beauty of this season of swirling crimson, coral and golden leaves…


By Dr. Marisa Jackson-Kinman, C.A.S., P.K.S., A.Y.T., Faculty at the California College of Ayurveda