How to balance kapha in winter
Thank God the days are getting longer again. In Belgium we had the darkest month of December in almost a century: only about 10 hours of sunshine all month *gasp*. Many people are having symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (‘SAD’). If you’ve been feeling down, moody, irritable and without energy, unmotivated, you have been craving carbs (even just writing it makes me want to grab a bowl of pasta) and overeating, you have been feeling lazy and oversleeping, you may be experiencing ‘SAD’.
What can you do?
- show your face some sun (if it appears) while going for a brief lunchtime walk
- get a vit D supplement
- invest in a daylight therapy lamp to put on your desk (like this one).
And of course ayurveda has some answers too!
Winter is Kapha season
In ayurveda winter is Kapha season. Kapha is one of the three ayurvedic doshas or body types. Every season is connected to one body type. And before you say: “wait a minute! THREE body types and FOUR seasons – hmmm, where did you learn to count??”: ayurveda recognises 6 seasons in the year, so each dosha gets to play during two seasons.
We are now entering the ‘late winter season’. Whenever it is the season of a certain type, this dosha gets out of balance more easily. So in winter it is Kapha that starts accumulating and will easily get aggravated once spring comes. Kapha is grounded, steady, solid, … and when out of balance it becomes lazy, stubborn and unmoving.
How to balance Kapha in winter
There are a few quick fixes in your lifestyle you can do to balance Kapha in winter:
To balance Kapha, you can:
- get up early (even if you don’t want to)
- move your body (even if you don’t want to)
- change one of your routines
- drink a glass of warm water before meals
- eat in moderation
- do a fast (like this one)
- and especially: eat a balanced diet.
Balance Kapha with food
To balance our Kapha dosha we need to:
- eat less of the foods that are Kapha producing. Kapha aggravating foods are sweet, salty and sour in nature.
- eat more of the foods that are Vata and Pitta producing (the two other doshas or body types).
Kapha balancing foods are pungent, bitter and astringent.
Here is a list of foods to eat and avoid*, that are in season now to balance Kapha.
* Quick note: When I say ‘avoid’ it doesn’t mean you can never have this food. Just don’t make it a primary food this season. If you have little Kapha in you and you are not experiencing any symptoms as described above, you can of course have them.
beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, spinach
mushrooms, pumpkin, sweet potatoes
apples, pears, persimmon, pomegranate, quince, raisins
avocado, bananas, coconut, cranberries, dates, oranges
barley, buckwheat, corn, millet, rye
wheat, oats, rice flour, brown rice
Aduki beans, black beans, pinto beans, chickpeas, red lentils, split peas
Kidney beans, soybeans, tofu, tempeh
Nuts and seeds
Nuts are to be avoided when Kapha is out of balance.
Occasionally sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, poppy seeds and roasted pumpkin seeds are ok to eat.
Dairy products should be eaten only occasionally to balance Kapha.
You can take ghee, goat’s milk and goat’s cheese if you must have some dairy.
butter, cheese, cow’s milk, ice cream, meat
Oils should be eaten only occasionally to balance Kapha. Also processed foods should be avoided.
Except certified raw honey, avoid all sweeteners, especially white and brown sugar, fructose and molasses. Also avoid sugar substitutes as they increase your craving for sweetness.
Herbs and spices
allspice, bay leaf, black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, garlic, nutmeg, saffron, star anise
Fennel, fenugreek, vanilla, salt