9 Diet & Lifestyle Tips To Pacify Kapha This Winter

Winter has hit Australia (sigh!) and there’s going to be plenty of cold days ahead of us. In Australia where I am currently based, it’s a time when people go into hibernation and for good reason – it’s cold, dark, wet and icy and there’s no place you’d rather be than cozied up in bed, forever.

In Ayurveda, winter and early spring is known as Kapha season. Kapha is made up of the elements of Water and Earth and is responsible for stability and structure in our body, mind and environment. It’s often referred to also as mud because its qualities represent everything dense inside and around us. Think cold, wet, soft, slow and heavy. 

It impacts the body and mind in many ways and those with a Kapha body-type will be more sensitive to symptoms during winter than those with a Vata or Pitta constitution. Common Kapha symptoms include excesses of mucus and phlegm conditions: congestion, sinus infections, coughing, asthma, sluggishness, excessive sleep, weight gain, high cholesterol, fluid retention in tissues (edema), aching joints, poor circulation, migraines, sadness, depression, grief and unexpressed emotions.

If you know you’re prone to suffering from some of these symptoms, keep reading, because by making just a few changes to your diet and lifestyle can help you find balance and greater enjoyment as we enter the cooler months.

  1. Keep warm. Pretty straight forward but if you’re anything like me, you don’t like heavy winter clothing. Sometimes, it might be worth your health to stay warm than to worry about looking good.
  2. Avoid cold and heavy foods. They will only make you feel colder and more sluggish. These types of foods include meat, cheese, ice-cream, yoghurt, and fried food.
  3. Eat more pungent foods. Pungent foods are hot, dry and light in quality such as chilli, pepper, cumin seeds, garlic and onions. They will improve your digestion and absorption, reduce fat, clean tissue and sharpen those senses.
  4. Also eat more bitter foods. These include olives, spinach, eggplant and turmeric. They are light, dry, anti-toxic, anti-inflammatory and super cleansing.
  5. DO NOT SLEEP after you have just eaten! As tempting as it is, this is a huge cause for weight gain.
  6. Massage your body daily. Massage strengthens the nervous system, detoxifies the body, stimulates the immune system and improves lymphatic flow. It's important to use a heating oil such as organic black sesame seed oil especially in winter to warm up the body. 
  7. Establish a daily routine to counter off laziness.
  8. Exercise everyday. Kapha types benefit most from more vigorous and stimulating types of exercises or anything where they can work up a sweat, clear natural sluggishness and burn up all that stored energy so that it doesn’t turn to bulk. Walk-running, hiking, swimming and aerobics are all great.
  9. Practice deep breathing. Try to take 10-15 deep, slow breaths at least three times a day - even more if you can. In through the nose, and out through the nose. This is seriously the best way to calm the nervous system when feeling emotional, stressed or anxious.

Happy winter!