Eastern Traditions are filled with wisdom about how to acclimate to each season. Chinese Medicine looks at health in a holistic manner and utilizes the Five Elements- Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water to balance the body. Various foods and their tastes play an important role, whether sour, bitter, sweet, acrid or salty. With Ayurvedic Medicine in winter, you may find that your sleep becomes lighter, your skin drier, and your bowels less regular. You may also feel some anxiety. In Ayurveda, moving Vata stirs up any accumulated Ama (toxins) collected from the previous seasons, which is why colds and flus are so common at the change of seasons.
Here are ten tips to brighten your winter days and help your health prosper:
- Boost your Ojas or Qi “vital essence” by eating these foods: sesame oil, coconut oil, olive oil, ghee, almonds (soaked and peeled), cashews, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, bananas, dates, avocado, figs, warm and lightly cooked root vegetables, whole grains, honey and molasses.
- Eat and drink warm soups, hot casseroles, hot water and hot drinks like chai, hot cocoa and golden milk. These will increase internal body heat, keeping your immune system and digestive fire strong.
- Add herbs to food such as cinnamon, ginger, black pepper, turmeric, chili pepper, cayenne, paprika and nutmeg.
- Avoid overeating, the ancient texts say we should eat to about 75% of your capacity. This is about what we would fit into your two cupped hands.
- Keep away from cold food and drinks, as well as rich desserts, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, and heavy, hard-to-digest foods.
- Apply a daily oil massage to keep joints supple, muscles toned, and body temperature regulated. Sesame oil is the best option for self-massage during winter.
- Rest. Make sure that you go to bed by 10 pm to reduce stress and keep your mind calm and clear. Download The Art of Sleeping Well for more information on sleep.
- Exercise daily to help you think more clearly, sleep more deeply and minimize stress.
- Bundle Up! Protect your head, neck and ears from cold drafts. Oh yes, grandma was right! More than half of the body’s heat is lost through the head, especially when going outdoors after an indoor workout or engaging in outdoor winter activities.
- Wear warm colors like orange, gold, deep reds and mustard. This is a simple yet effective way to encourage a pleasing, cozy sensation.
Regina Montalvo, M.S., L.Ac, is a Licensed Acupuncturist and Functional Medicine Practitioner. She is an active healing arts practitioner with over 20 years of experience and practices Traditional Chinese Medicine, Herbal Medicine, Holistic Lifestyle Coaching, and Ayurvedic Medicine. Schedule a complimentary Wellness Consultation with Regina for your Ranch Visit.
Yazmin Ceballos is a Vegetarian Chef and Ayurvedic Lifestyle Therapist. She’s a graduate of Escuela de Enologia y Gastronomía and VEDAMCI in Guadalajara. You can typically find her at the Dining Hall, helping guests find their dietary balance.