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How to Stay Balanced in the Autumn

The fall is a time of transition.  We are now beginning to experience the crispness of autumn after the raging heat of summer. The wind is also gathering strength and showing the signs of the coming winter. Basically, autumn is dry, rough, windy, erratic, cool, subtle, and clear. For the body, it is time to prepare for a winter with cold weather and dryness. I recommend you make adjustments to your diet and lifestyle in the autumn to prepare your body for the winter.

Ayurveda considers a seasonal routine as an important aspect of healthcare

General guidelines

Summer is the time to feast on fresh fruits and vegetables, which keep your body hydrated and balance the drying, and heating effects of summer. During autumn however, fall harvest foods are best — sweet potatoes, squashes, beets, carrots, radishes, turnips, arugula, kale, cabbage, cauliflower, and collard greens.  Concentrate on warm and nourishing foods.  Suggested foods are basmati rice, sprouted wheat, soups, mung dal, steamed vegetables, warming spices like cumin, coriander, mustard seeds, and cinnamon. Avoid cold drinks, ice creams, lots of beans, and fermented foods.   Foods that are warm and soothing, such as soups and casseroles created from fresh ingredients are recommended. Fasting is generally not suitable during autumn.

Vata guidelines for the autumn

As a Vata person (generally a thin person with a tendency to be cold and dry, who has a sensitive digestion system) you will need to be the most vigilant about staying moist and warm, as well as creating a daily routine to stay in balance as the cold of winter approaches.

Choose foods that are nourishing and warming such as well cooked, and well-spiced grains and vegetables. Foods that will be supportive include ripe bananas, lemons, mangos, oranges, peaches, plums, carrots, olives, onions, brown rice, kidney beans, miso, urad dal, nut butters, almonds, cashews,  walnuts, butter, cheese, ghee, eggs, and fish.

If you enjoy meat, fall is a great time of year to consume it to build tissues.  Deep sea fish such as halibut and salmon are the best choices for the Vata person.  To put on some extra weight for the winter, which avoids the increase and accumulation of Vata dosha, treat yourself to some moist desserts like zucchini bread, pumpkin bread, and carrot cake!   Or, try a date, almond yogurt shake.  Promote sound sleep by taking some warm spiced milk before bed:  Boil about a cup of RAW cow milk, stir in a little maple syrup, and add a pinch of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and a teaspoon of ghee, let cool and drink.  Sweet dreams Vata!

Be cautious in eating raw vegetables in the autumn as they are drying and can create wind in the body.  If you do enjoy a salad, eat it at lunchtime and be sure to garnish it generously with an oily dressing.

Basically, in the autumn the Vata person needs to eat heavy and moist foods to thicken the skin and add density to the tissues, to transition smoothly through the cold and dry winter.

Pitta guidelines for the autumn

As a Pitta person (generally someone with a warm body temperature, strong appetite, robust digestion, and an athletic build) autumn will bring you relief from the heat of the summer.  Finally, a cool breeze!

Apples and pears offer the perfect combination of cooling energy, astringent taste, and fiber in the fall.  Eat these fruits in abundance in early autumn, when they are in season.  Usually, the Pitta person needs to focus on a diet that is not too hot, oily, or liquid in nature.  Foods that will help find this balance include sweet berries, coconut, dates, figs, soaked raisins, avocado, asparagus, cilantro, cucumber, green beans, okra, parsnip, sweet potatoes, rutabaga, summer squash, zucchini, amaranth, oatmeal, quinoa, basmati rice, wheat, mung beans, tofu, soft cheeses, raw cow milk, ghee, fresh yogurt,  soaked almonds, and sunflower seeds.  You can also use cooling spices like coriander and fennel, as well as garnish your food with cilantro, shredded coconut, and fresh lime juice.

Sweet foods can be very nourishing and grounding so try a dairy treat like rice pudding, a date, almond, and buttermilk shake, or spiced raw milk (boiled RAW cow milk with a pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg, some natural cane sugar, and a bit of ghee).

As usual, you'll want to avoid really heating spices (like cayenne and dried ginger) and limit your exposure to foods that can aggravate your dominant dosha, like cranberries, corn, eggplant, raw onion, radishes, turnips, millet, and rye.

Basically, in Autumn with the cooler temperature the Pitta person does not have to strictly follow a Pitta pacifying and reducing diet. Autumn thus becomes a good time to cleanse and detoxify for the Pitta person.

Kapha guidelines for the autumn

As a Kapha (generally someone who is heavy by nature, puts on weight easily, and has a slow digestive system and a weak appetite, a nurturing, sweet, calm nature) your constitution is actually balanced by the dry, light, mobile and subtle qualities of autumn.

During autumn you can have more foods that are dense and grounding than usual, but not so much so that they weigh you down.  Some good examples of foods that do this would be apricots, berries, cherries, peaches, soaked prunes, soaked raisins, asparagus, beets, cooked carrots, chilies, green beans, leeks, mustard greens, okra, cooked onion, rutabaga, honey, amaranth, basmati rice, miso, tur dal, cottage cheese, raw goat's milk, and sunflower seeds.  You may also find that you can continue to enjoy lighter, more astringent foods like some salads for lunch, lots of vegetables, and some beans for protein.  In any case, you can't go wrong with well-spiced meals.

Resist resting too much and taking naps.  Start your day early (before 7 a.m.), and take some honey with cayenne in the morning to boost your metabolism. Do something active before 10 am whenever possible, to balance your Kapha dosha. You should have a vigorous exercise program and regularly go for a jog, ride a bike, or commit to an invigorating yoga practice.

Basically, for the Kapha person, it is not the best time for weight loss and there is a tendency to eat more, especially during the holidays.  So the best solution for the kapha person is to go ahead and eat fall and winter foods which are more dense and heavy, and exercise with more vigor and consistency to maintain the same body weight and even build muscle tone. Go kapha!

Always try to eat in season!

Autumn is a time of change in which you need to adapt your diet according to your body type.

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