Holiday diet and lifestyle tips

December 15, 2014

Digestion for the holiday season

 

The body is made to break down food, assimilate it, use what it needs and get rid of what it doesn’t need. Sounds sensible, right?

 

However, sometimes the body doesn’t do it this way. Sometimes it doesn’t break the food down well, so all the processing downstream gets hampered. Sometimes it even stores the food our body doesn’t use. What the heck is that about?

 

When we’ve eaten the wrong food, at the wrong time or if we’ve eaten too much for what our body really calls for, undigested food can get stored in the body, starting in the digestive tract, but then spilling over into other areas. It then begins to create blockages and clog the channels of the body where we’ve had previous traumas or genetic weaknesses, jeopardizing the optimal flow of blood, lymph and other substances in the body and leading us toward illness and disease. Yikes!

 

Ayurvedic therapy teaches us how to eat for our body type, season and lifestyle. Through the use of diet and lifestyle changes, herbs and even yoga, you can feel better and live in sync with your nature. 

 

Holiday diet and lifestyle tips

 

The holidays fall in vata season. That means it’s generally colder and most bodies need warming to make sure they can adequately break down the food they ingest. This is one reason it’s important to eat seasonally. Bodies aren’t meant to eat the same thing as the season’s change. If you want to use what you eat and get rid of what you don’t need, follow these tips.

 

Get warm through sipping hot water all day and make sure to exercise regularly, focusing on stable movement, like long-held yoga poses that make you sweat. This is actually a good season for heated yoga classes too. Favor cooked foods, soups and stews this time of year over raw, cold or dry foods.

 

Colder winter climates that get snow can also be very dry, so it’s important to keep the body’s unctuous quality balanced. If you are feeling dry, try drizzling a little extra oil on your food. You’ll also benefit from keeping the external skin oiled. Apply warm oil to your body before taking a shower and not only will you feel calmer, but your skin will feel amazing throughout the day. Try untoasted sesame or sunflower oil.

 

Milder winter climates, like the San Francisco Bay Area, can get more rain than snow and therefore dryness may not be an issue, but one will benefit by keeping warm and eating cooked foods that the body can digest easily. Enjoy a dry sauna this time of year.

 

Cold/snowy winter climates

  • Sip warm water all day

  • Regular exercise, focusing on stable movement and breaking into a sweat

  • Indulge in slightly heated yoga classes

  • Favor cooked foods, soups and stews this time of year over raw, cold or dry foods

  • Drizzle a little extra oil on your food (sesame, sunflower, olive or even ghee/clarified butter)

  • Apply warm untoasted sesame or sunflower oil to your body before taking a shower

  • Enjoy a wet sauna

  • OK to enjoy a few holiday sweets, but make sure to exercise too

 

Mild/rainy winter climates

  • Sip warm water all day

  • Regular exercise, focusing on stable movement and breaking into a sweat

  • Indulge in warming yoga classes

  • Favor cooked foods, soups and stews this time of year over raw, cold or dry foods

  • Enjoy a dry sauna occasionally

  • Easy on the holiday sweets, and definitely exercise when indulging

 

Please note that these are general guidelines and may not be appropriate for all people, depending on their nature and any imbalances occurring at the time. For example, if you are having acne, burning anywhere in the body or are irritable, then heated yoga or saunas may not be appropriate. Ayurveda is ultimately about understanding your body, actions, thoughts, environmental impacts, etc. General guidelines only get us so far. Try it and see what works.

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