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Ayurvedic Tips for the Month of December.

Nature is our guide in Ayurveda. We look at the changes in the season, the weather patterns, and the qualities of our environment and rhythms of our lives to see how we can best support ourselves physically and mentally/ emotionally to stay in good health.


Ayurveda believes our disconnect with nature causes diseases and imbalances in ourselves.


Our lives and environments are ever-changing and to keep yourself in balance it helps to look at the seasonal changes to know how to adapt.


Read all about the month of December to stay in good health!


P.S. This blog is based on Ontario, Canada weather.



December brings the transition from fall to winter. Officially on the 21st of December, it is winter solstice. But already we find ourselves in winter type of weather currently. The temperatures are dropping significantly, even below zero. And snow is already on the ground as well.


The holiday season is upon us with both Canadian and American Thanksgiving behind us. This means Christmas markets are starting, and we're making plans for Christmas and New Year's Eve. For some people this is the best time of year, for some, it is a time to get through in one piece. Either way, it is important to adapt your diet and lifestyle to the weather changes to stay as balanced as possible physically and emotionally.


Let's look at what this type of weather brings.


"It is important to adapt your diet and lifestyle to the weather changes to stay as balanced as possible physically and emotionally."

The Climate


Winter is around the corner and that means temperatures fall below zero, snowfall, less sunshine or light during the day, and longer nights. Winter in Canada can be intense and long. Therefore it is a good idea to make sure you have your things in place to make it as comfortable for yourself as possible.


The cold and darkness of winter might be the biggest challenges for us humans. This brings a situation of staying indoors mostly to stay warm. This means we move a lot less which has an effect on our moods as well, together with the little sunlight we might be getting. This could be a challenge.


Winter weather is mostly calm though, the winds die down, and there could be blue skies with beautiful snow. This can change from day to day and if a beautiful day presents itself, make use of it! Spend as much time outside as you possibly can to stay active and get sunlight. Both of these are essential to staying healthy and balanced throughout winter.


Although winter is a time of rest and rejuvenation after a summer and fall of hard work (in the old days). We don't really follow seasons like this anymore, but it might be good to keep this in mind while planning your holiday schedule. Make sure there is enough time to kick back, relax, and recharge.


Kapha is entering in winter season due to its stable, slow, calm qualities. This means that winter can be a challenging season for kaphas since they already possess these qualities. Especially for the kapha dosha it is key to get as much sunlight as possible, buy a wake-up light perhaps to make it easier in the morning to get out of bed, and keep moving even if you don't feel like it.


The indulgence mentality of the holiday season is another challenge for kaphas. Overindulging together with lack of movement and sunlight can be a recipe for feeling lethargic or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Fresh outside air, walks, and playing in the snow are great ways for kapha to stay balanced.


Be aware of drastic temperatures changes between the outdoors and indoors, this can cause you to catch a cold. Layering your clothes is key to working with these different temperatures.

"The indulgence mentality of the holiday season is another challenge for kaphas."

The Three Doshas in December


Vata

Vatas do not like the cold. They have a hard time keeping their hands and feet warm and might always be looking to turn up the heat or walking around with fluffy socks! Both vata and kapha have the quality of cold which makes winter challenging for them.


Staying warm is the biggest challenge for vata in winter. Layering up, hats, beanies, gloves, big coats, boots, vatas make sure you are stocked up in your closet with these essentials.


Cold air is dryer and makes you pee, so it remains a challenge for vata to stay hydrated in winter.

The best way to hydrate is with warm teas, soups, and broths. Hot liquids go deep into the cells and hydrate the body on a deeper level. Adding spices to your teas (cinnamon, ginger) and meals helps with warming up your body from the core. This will also help with cold hands and feet and reduce constipation.


Vatas will benefit from the winter foods, generally, they are more protein and fat-rich. This will build fat and muscle tissue for an insulating layer. This is not the time to cut on animal protein for vata (but of course this is a personal choice). Hearty beef stews, chicken soups, roasts are essential to keep vata nourished and warm.


Self-oil massage (abhyanga) is key at this time of year for vata. Right after you wake up oil your whole body with warm sesame oil to keep you warm the whole day. A game changer!


Vatas really need to avoid raw and cold foods at this time of year and make sure that they cook their food and eat it warm.




Pitta

Pittas can really enjoy that fresh crisp cold in wintertime since they are the only dosha with a strong inner fire to keep them warm. If you see someone in slippers and shorts in the winter you know they are pitta!


Winter is a great time for pitta to relax, kick back, and fully enjoy the holidays. Spend more time with friends and family, doing fun activities outdoors like skiing, ice skating, and playing in the snow.


It is time to let go of the stress of the whole year around the holidays. Since pittas love to plan this can be a good time to first reflect back on this year and then plan ahead for the next.


In terms of food, pittas have a great appetite and a strong digestion (when in balance), this means they have the least problems with heavy Turkey dinners, meat roasts, or heavier desserts. They mostly want to be aware of overconsumption of alcohol (heating), too many sugary desserts, and spicy foods.


"It is time to let go of the stress of the whole year around the holidays."

Kapha

Winter is kapha season. The slow, steady, cold qualities of winter are home for kapha. This can bring challenges for this dosha. The shorter days and long nights can make kapha lethargic and feeling depressed and unmotivated. Together with the heavy foods of winter they could easily gain weight, and increase their mucus production (due to sweet, heavy foods). Congestion in the lungs and sinuses might be something kapha struggles with the whole of winter. It is the earth and water elements of winter that kapha already has lots of.


Key for kapha is to keep moving. Dress warm outside, but don't sit by the fire too long. Go for a walk, or any of the fun winter outdoor activities. Breath in the fresh air and let it inspire you to be active and even start a new project or hobby to keep yourself busy. Winter is generally not the time to start something new, it is more a time of endings and recharging for what is to come. But since kapha can struggle with depression and lethargy it is a great time to keep the mind and body occupied with something fun and interesting. The activities of Christmas and other holidays can be motivating for kapha to stay active and feel good.


Next to staying busy, sunlight is key for kapha as well. The darkness makes them feel their own darkness. Go outside in the morning for a walk and in the afternoon, even if it is for 15 minutes. You will notice the difference. Kaphas will also benefit from an artificial wake-up light to get them out of bed in the morning.


In terms of food kapha needs to be careful not to overindulgence too much for too long. Adding a few vegetarian meals (with beans) to the menu, lots of bitter greens like spinach, chard, broccoli, kale, and pungent spices like ginger, black pepper, cayenne with keep kapha warm and moving.


Even keeping the mind active with playing games after dinner or a short walk will have great benefits for kapha.



Routine and lifestyle


Routine can be hard to keep during the holidays. Mealtimes can be off with brunches, late lunches, or early dinners. This affects your digestion and general routine. For a few days, this is okay and can be rebalanced in the days after the holidays. Don't stress too much about it but staying aware can help you recover from it.


Take a few moments to think about what Christmas dinners and brunches mean to you. Is it really about stuffing your face, forgetting all health routines, and getting high on sugary desserts? Or is it about having time off to relax with family and friends? To be together and celebrate and be thankful. Is the food really the most important thing of these days? Are you really enjoying it while you are stuffing yourself full? Or are you trying to avoid some hard feelings, conversations, or uncomfortable situations? Maybe it is time to break family traditions around food and introduce more healthy ones that will also benefit your kid's perspectives of this. Whoof! Hard stuff. But aren't we tired of falling off the wagon during the holidays and then putting ourselves on an extreme health regime in January? You be the judge.


The slowness and calm energy of winter can be the perfect time for us to recharge and rejuvenate. Engage in journaling, meditation, or slow yoga to check in with your inner self. How are you? What do you need? You can stop running for a few days and care for yourself in different ways that you like. These practices are also great if you experience stress during the holidays.


It is easy to sleep too much in winter since there is so much darkness. Ayurveda suggests a bedtime of 10 pm and waking 30 minutes before sunrise. Get a good night's sleep, but avoid sleeping in too long or daytime napping. Feeling tired? Step outside for some fresh air to wake you up.


A hot bath is great for both vata and kapha to relax and keep warm. So are warm oil massages in the morning.


Slowing down is the name of winter. Are you able to do it?



Ayurvedic Diet for December


What is available is always depends on where you are in the world. Your best bet is to check your weekly farmers' market or subscribe to a newsletter of your local farm to stay updated.


Cold months mean heavier foods to keep us grounded and warm. When we are cold most of our blood goes to our core to keep our organs functioning well. This means your appetite increases! it is okay to listen to this and feed ourselves well. This is the month of homemade dinners, potlucks, elaborate brunches, and delicious roasts!


This means soups, casseroles, pot roasts, stews, roasted vegetables are still on the menu. Hearty meals that are satisfying and nourishing.


In winter our gut enzymes change to digest protein and fats better. It is normal to have a diet that consists of more (animal) protein and fats and fewer fruits and vegetables. The vegetables that are available are mainly root vegetables, cabbages, and some tougher greens. This is perfect for winter.


The tastes (of Ayurveda) that we want to favour are sweet, salty, pungent, and some bitterness. The sweet taste is nourishing, salty keeps us hydrated, pungency gives a hit of heat and stimulates our blood, and bitterness gives us nutrients and helps to detox.


Adding pungent spices to your meals like cloves, ginger, red pepper flakes, turmeric, and cinnamon invigorate the blood and bring colour to your cheeks.


There are hardly any fruits available in winter and that is okay too. You really don't need to eat pineapple or mango in the winter. You will survive on apples and pears. And mainly eat them cooked, in a stew, a crisp, or even a hearty dish. Add some cinnamon or cloves for some pungency. Yum!


Cabbage is a great winter food to add to your menu. Check out the next online Ayurveda Cooking Class on December 15th where we make a Potato, Cabbage and White Bean soup! You can make braised red cabbage for Christmas dinner. Anything with the color red is great for this time of year since it invigorates our blood and helps it clean. Besides red cabbage think cranberries, pomegranates, blood oranges, and roasted beets. Great to add to your meals.


Mulled wine can be a healthy choice to spice up your blood and get you moving. A few ounces is enough though, overindulgence in alcohol can be taxing on the liver and overall health.


Even though winter is not necessarily a time of abundance of the land, there are beautiful foods available to get you through the winter healthy and balanced.


If you need support with improving your digestion, finding joy in eating and food again, or maintaining a healthy weight without dieting, click below to book a 20-min Free Discovery Call.




*Always consult your physician before making adaptations to your lifestyle and diet.




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