Food for balance

A subscriber contacted me recently who had learned that she has a “moderate to severe Vata imbalance.” She wanted “a few suggestions about foods to include in (her) diet to help with that?”
According to Ayurveda Autumn is the season when the Vata principle manifests. When we think of Autumn we think of a windy time of year, a time that is dry(ing) and colder than the warmer summer months. The wind also brings with it a lightness that can be refreshing and clearing. All of these are qualities we may also experience within the body. When the Vata principle is not in balance, there is more “wind”, more movement of air in the various body cavities which may cause discomfort. The lightness within the body might translate into a feeling of not being connected or grounded. Typically the feet and the hands are cold and dry, and the body feels the cold more easily.
At this time we all need to make sure that our diet has more liquid to counteract the drying effect of the season and also that it contains warming foods and herbs and spices. Soups are a super simple dish to add to our diet, especially those with warming spices and herbs such as fresh ginger, turmeric, and sage, parsley, and thyme and using local seasonal vegetables such as carrots, onions, pumpkins and other squash, and beetroot.
To manage the lightness and dryness of the Vata principle I like to make hearty protein-rich soups from mung beans, lentils, or other beans and add warming oils such as sesame oil or ghee. The soup could be our main meal (at lunchtime), and for those of us who lead busy lives, it’s an easy option to make plenty and have the leftover soup in the evening. But what about breakfast? We can carry on the soupy idea and have a warming porridge of oat groats or brown rice spiced with cinnamon and sweetened with raisins and soaked & peeled almonds. Mmm…
Meals at this time should help us feel comforted and cosy to manage any fear or anxiety we might have from not being grounded or feeling uncertain. Throughout the day we can drink warm to hot water or herbal teas to keep hydrated.
In Ayurveda we talk about six tastes and the ones that help to balance this principle are the sweet taste, the salty taste and the sour taste, in moderation. Sweet, as in whole grains, have a sustaining effect to your blood sugar, and sweet is the taste of love and compassion, emotions that are often out of balance or lacking in our Western society. The sour and salty tastes bring heat into the body and aid digestion as well as retain water.
And here’s one of my favourite soup recipes for the season. Enjoy with sprouted bread for a hearty meal!

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