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Ayurveda is an ancient system of medicine, developed 3,000 years ago in India, but many of its principles of grounding, calming, and gut-soothing are even more applicable today. Because ayurveda thinks of the body and the world more holistically, the practice is attuned to the shifts of the seasons—and with fall coming, there are a few ayurvedic shifts you can make to feel calmer, healthier, and happier.
The ayurvedic impact of the seasons.
“What we consume depends not only on your individual dosha—your unique mind-body type—but also on the ever-changing seasons,” explains Sahara Rose, an ayurvedic expert and host of the Highest Self podcast. She notes that in each season, we tend toward imbalances in different doshas.
“Currently, it’s summer, and during the summer, we are most likely to face a pitta (fire) imbalance as it can be very hot and humid. Pitta energy resembles the conditions of summer, which is why the balance is thrown off,” Rose explains. “To achieve balance, you must consume foods that have cooling properties such as herbs, leafy greens, and fresh fruit.”
How fall affects your body—and how to bring it back into balance.
Fall, however, comes with its own imbalances. “In ayurveda, autumn is vata season, when the qualities of the vata dosha—ether and air—are dominant,” says Jasmine Hemsley, author of the ayurvedic cookbook East by West. “The heat of summer starts to drop away, and we layer up as the wind picks up and the dark nights creep in. This seasonal change can also be seen in our own mind-bodies—think flaky skin, creakier joints, feeling sleepy earlier, lower immunity, finding that things may get on your nerves that much more, and perhaps even heightened levels of anxiety or feelings of depression as we move toward the end of the year and we try to adjust to more limited daylight.”
Hemsley recommends offsetting the cold, light, rough, dry qualities of fall with hot soups and stews and hot drinks. “Plenty of nourishing dishes are especially important at the vata time of year. The vata dosha craves nourishment and routine,” Hemsley explains. “Just remember that opposites create balance, so seek out warmth, hydration, oil-based foods and products, nurture, love, routine, and groundedness as we transition into autumn.”
The best ayurvedic foods for fall.
Rose recommends increasing your intake of grounding foods. These include root vegetables like parsnips, sweet potatoes, carrots, and even ginger and turmeric, which are technically roots and beloved in ayurvedic cuisine. You can make a ginger carrot soup or dice the vegetables to roast with some nourishing ghee, ground turmeric, sea salt, and black pepper.
Rose also recommends nuts and seeds to balance the vata of fall, so toss a handful of almonds into your morning oatmeal or top your stir-fry with a handful of hemp seeds or cashews. Speaking of your morning meal—both Rose and Hemsley recommend veering away from raw foods like smoothies and leaning into cooked, warm foods like oatmeals and lattes in the fall. Sip tea throughout the day, and swap any iced summer beverage for its hot counterpart.
Mushrooms are also a winner, according to Rose. Utilize their grounding earthiness in pasta dishes with sliced garlic and a generous dose of olive oil, or make a risotto or soup with them as a base (they’re also a source of vitamin D, which is in shorter supply as winter creeps in).
The good news? The changes are as easy as they are delicious. “Being mindful of the internal and external imbalances we face and tweaking our diet accordingly is essential to living a healthier, happier life,” she says.