Nourish Your Body This Winter

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. 
~ M. Pollan 
The key to mind and body balance is in understanding and listening to our body's needs. When we tune in (as we learn in our yoga practice), we can then learn how to eat, cook, cleanse, and heal with our body's well-being in mind. 
Ayurveda (yoga's sister science) can teach us a lot about how to achieve this harmony. 
In winter, we usually feel cold and more dry. Our skin gets dry, our sinuses begin to dry out, and even our joints dry out. As a result, the mucus membranes in the body start to become irritated and produce more mucus — and mucus is a breeding ground for colds, flu, and bacteria, says John Douillard, founder of
"In winter, or vata season, you want to eat more nuts, seeds, grains, soups, stews ... higher protein, higher fat foods that are more dense and more insulating for the body. We're supposed to gain a pound or two in winter as part of our insulation," he says.

Douillard recommends the following 5 types of foods that will help you warm up for winter, avoid getting sick, improve digestion, and reconnect with the circadian cycles of nature.

1. "Underground" veggies

All the squashes, beets, carrots, potatoes, and sweet potatoes that grow underground all summer are heavy and more dense, which make them ideal for vata season, Douillard explains. Nutrient-dense root veggies are also rich in fiber, minerals, vitamin A, and vitamin C, and loaded with antioxidants, all of which help support winter nutrition.

2. More fat

During the winter months, a higher-fat diet provides insulation along with the nutrients you need to repair, rebuild, and rejuvenate before nature's new year come spring, Douillard says. Try cooking with more olive oil, sesame oil, coconut oil, nut butters, and increase intake of nuts during the fall and winter months.

3. More protein

As a vegan or vegetarian, you could also meet this requirement with whey protein powders, nuts, seeds, legumes, Spirulina, or coconut yogurt. Proteins are the building blocks for the body, and during the winter, these are essential nutrients for structural strength, skin health, immunity, and more.

4. Fermented foods

Fermentation, which was meant to preserve veggies for the winter, supports gut microbial immunity during the winter months, Douillard says. Fermented foods also warm the body, he adds—a welcome benefit in the wintertime. Try eating more fermented veggies, and sauerkraut.

5. More fiber

Fiber-rich foods are abundant in the fall and winter to support better intestinal health, Douillard explains. Fiber is purgative, which means it helps you go to the bathroom. Ayurveda sees better elimination, or looser stools, as the body's way of getting rid of the heat that accumulates at the end of summer. This excess heat turns into dryness (and constipation) if it doesn’t get dissipated. You can get your fiber from wheat, seeds, most grains, rye, and rice. There's an enzyme called amylase that increases in the body in fall and winter and helps you break down and utilize wheat. Apples also have a lot of fiber.


Happy Winter! 
(Some parts of this article are cited from

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