Nourish Your Body With These Wintertime Foods

    —
December 1, 2017

 

Nature: In general, Ayurveda declares winter (November 15th – March 14th) as the healthiest season. However, the body’s natural intelligence copes with the external cold by automatically increasing the agni in the belly (a physiological response), resulting in increased inner warmth. Naturally, appetite and hunger also increase in parallel. Hence, if we fast in this season or eat a lot of cold and light foods, like salads, vata dosha can go up due to increased quality of lightness and coldness (the principle of “like increases like” at work). So eating nutritious fatty food at the right time (in winter) is a precautionary measure.

Goal: We make the best use of a naturally increased agni in winter and make every meal count. We can eat nourishing foods (see “Preferred Winter Food List” that follows) to proactively build health and immunity for the entire year ahead.

Flavors: Increase intake of sweet, sour, and salty; reduce intake of sour, pungent, and bitter.

Qualities: Prefer heavy over light, and fatty over dry foods.

Specifics: Hearty meat and vegetable soups with added ghee fortify the body. A midday drink of Ayurvedic buttermilk is recommended every day. Eat 1 tablespoon raw honey daily if possible (especially in the morning).

 

Preferred Winter Food List

  • Cereals: Unfermented wheat products (bran, cereal, chapatis, cookies, cream of wheat, crepes, dumplings, pudding, tortillas), white or brown rice, rice pudding. In moderation: quinoa, millet, oats.
  • Legumes and beans: Black gram, black beans, kidney beans, mung.
  • Vegetables: Asparagus, beets, cabbage, carrots, cilantro, eggplant, fennel root (anise), garlic, green beans, green peas, leeks, okra (in early winter only), onions (cooked), parsnips, pumpkin, radish, rutabaga, spaghetti squash, spinach, sweet potatoes, turnips, winter melon, winter squash.
  • Fruits: Amalaki (a nutritious fruit supplement; available online), almonds, apples, dates, figs, grapefruit, guavas, lemon, lime, mandarins, oranges, pears, plums, pomegranate, tangerines.
  • Meat: Chicken, deer, goat, pig, rabbit, seafood soup, turkey.
  • Alcohol: Aged wine is ideal.
  • Seeds: Sesame.
  • Dried fruits and nuts: Almonds, cashews, macadamia nuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, raisins, walnuts.
  • Dairy: Sweet butter, Ayurvedic buttermilk (takra), sweet cream, milk (boiled), yogurt, (never frozen or with fruit, always eat with added raw honey or crushed back pepper).
  • Water: Drink boiled water reduced to warm, drinkable temperature.
  • Fat: Ghee is best; all other natural cooking oils are also fine (except mustard oil).
  • Other: Honey, chyawanprash (Ayurvedic supplement), vinegar in moderation.

 

Avoid in Winter

  • Fasting and skipping meals
  • Eating salads and raw foods
  • Consuming chilled foods like ice cream, chilled water, frozen foods

 

Looking for more great reads?

 

Excerpt from Ayurveda Lifestyle Wisdom by Acharya Shunya.

Acharya Shunya is the founder of Vedika Global, a spiritual foundation dedicated to elevating consciousness, building community, and serving humanity by illuminating India’s Vedic spiritual traditions of Ayurveda, yoga, and Vedanta. In association with its graduates, Vedika Global offers courses at Stanford University’s Health Improvement program. In 2015, she was recognized as a Top 100 teacher of Ayurveda and Yoga by Spirituality & Health Magazine and was invited to represent Ayurveda in the U.S. by India’s Ministry of AYUSH (Health) and Overseas Affairs. She is president of the California Association of Ayurvedic Medicine. For more information, visit vedikaglobal.org or acharyashunya.com.

Acharya Shunya

Acharya Shunya is an internationally renowned mystic and a classically trained master of nondual Advaita, Ayurveda, and Yoga. The first female head of her 2000-year-old Vedic-Hindu spiritual lineage from India, Shunya facilitates authenticity, self-remembrance, and divine feminine pathways to awakening.  She is founder of The Awakened Self Foundation with its international headquarters in California, and is the author of Ayurveda Lifestyle Wisdom, Sovereign Self, and Roar Like a Goddess.

Author photo © Sanjai Mathur

Also By Author

Roar Like a Goddess

In this podcast we join Sounds True founder, Tami Simon, in conversation with Acharya Shunya, a master of Ayurveda and an internationally renowned spiritual teacher and scholar of Advaita (nondual wisdom). Give a listen to this informative dialogue to hear about Acharya Shunya’s book, Roar Like a Goddess, and her empowering insights into : Awakening the inner goddesses of the Vedic tradition; the progressive revelation of Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati; “ugly power” based on ignorance, and the devas (or light bearers) who cultivate power ethically; how symbolism helps you discover your power; healthy rage and “correctional, super-conscious anger”; the divine, ultimate truth of nonduality at the core of Vedic wisdom; the river of light that flows within all of us; and more.

Acharya Shunya: Sovereign Self

Acharya Shunya is a classically trained master of Ayurveda and an internationally renowned spiritual teacher and scholar of Advaita nondual wisdom. The first female leader of a 2,000-year-old Indian spiritual lineage, she has dedicated her life to the dissemination of Vedic knowledge for the spiritual uplifting of all beings. With Sounds True, Acharya Shunya has written a book titled Sovereign Self: Claim Your Inner Joy and Freedom with the Empowering Wisdom of the Vedas, Upanishads, and Bhagavad Gita. In this episode of Insights at the Edge, Tami Simon and Acharya Shunya explore our spiritual journey from feeling afraid to feeling powerful, from bondage to sovereignty. Offering unique perspectives that come from being both a woman and a householder, as well as the spiritual leader of her lineage, Acharya Shunya describes the boundless essence of spirit we all have within, the importance of breaking free from the cultural limitations that prevent us from remembering our true spiritual freedom, and how Vedic wisdom provides us with a timeless guided journey to spiritual sovereignty. 

Meet The Author of Sovereign Self

The Author
Acharya Shunya is an award-winning and internationally renowned spiritual teacher and scholar of Advaita (nondual wisdom) and a classically-trained master of Yoga and Ayurveda. The first female head of her 2,000-year-old Indian spiritual lineage, she has dedicated her life to the dissemination of Vedic knowledge for the spiritual uplifting of all beings. She is the president of the Awakened Self Foundation with its international headquarters in San Francisco and founder of the spiritual nonprofit Vedika Global. Learn more at acharyashunya.com.

Sovereign-Self-3D-CoverThe Book
A comprehensive guide to yoga’s most influential texts, making their profound teachings both accessible and immediately practical for modern seekers. Filled with hidden insights and engaging guidance, Sovereign Self will help you awaken and recognize your potential to be joyful, resourceful, abundant, limitlessly expansive, and sovereign.

 

 

 

 

Show us a day in your life.

I lead the life I want to lead, every day,  my heart leading me, and not because I must.

Acharya-Shunya-Saying-a-Prayer-to-her-Guru

 Acharya Shunya Meditating in the Early Morning

In the early morning I say a prayer of gratitude to my guru and meditate on the beautiful and divine, forever sovereign presence in my heart, that is my true Self. 

Self rises silently in meditation to fill my heart with light, and bless me from within.  I become, as if renewed, to meet my day with my spiritual power, full on.

 

 

 

 

 

out and about

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many spiritual seekers and members of my Vedic lineage often join me through my day.

Acharya Shunya Hiking with FriendsAcharya-Shunya-Teaching-MomentAcharya-Shunya-Teaching-Group-scaled

I go hiking with students, lead them through meditations, and impart Vedic wisdom from my 2000-year-old Vedic lineage from India.

in-hill-house-study-roomworking-on-my-book-copyConducting-fire-cermony-in-mid-morning-to-evoke-Universal-Peace

From lunch onwards, I like to be mostly by myself in my study, to think and imagine, to feel and to surrender to my higher Self, and capture my inspiration in words. On many days, I spend time in Vedic ceremony and its consciousness awakening inner rituals and meditations.

Acharya-Shunya-with-her-Chef-Husband-Sanjai

I also value spending time with my husband. Sanjai is a trained Ayurveda chef. Here we are enjoying the fruits of his labor in our kitchen.

Has your book taken on a new meaning in the world’s current circumstances? Is there anything you would have included in your book if you were writing it now?

Shunyaji

In today’s uncertain world, embracing one’s unimagined power can open up possibilities as we synchronize with our true Self. 

According to the Vedas, Upanishads, and Bhagavad Gita—India’s oldest body of sacred yogic wisdom—human beings can be inspired to awaken from conditioning, shed limiting patterns and shackling attachments, and tap into the wisest, boldest, and most authentic and fearless parts of ourselves—which dwell as an invisible potential inside our heart, called Atma, the boundless one. This mighty Self, with all its hidden powers, becomes activated through right knowledge, meditations, and insights, making us true masters of our destiny, able to forge a path of sovereignty in every circumstance, good or bad.

 

Knowing the sovereign Self in our heart can alter the course of our life; this Self-knowledge can become a source of inner equanimity in any circumstance in life, not only when life is fun and people around us are acting supportively and lovingly, but also when life is unpredictable and people’s behavior is shadowy and dark. 

Naturally, this book has taken on a new meaning since I wrote it because today, our world is besieged by uncertainty and possibilities of disease; death is stalking each one of us, invisibly. To add to our collective sense of anxiety, we’ve also witnessed one of the most polarized elections in this country’s history. Social and racial injustice is at an all-time high. Our reality and our values stand to be changed forever. Now, more than ever, the sanctuary beyond fear and impermanence lies within the rediscovery of our true, invincible nature. 

If you are a sensitive and evolved soul who believes in dharma, nonviolence,  equality, and justice for all, my book, Sovereign Self, will be like a balm to your soul, a flame lit softly in a pitch-dark room—a path revealed, where none existed before.

Share a photo of you and your pet. Did your pet have a role in helping you write your book?

Acharya-Shunya-with-her-pet-and-writing-companion-Noddy

Noddy, my six-year old labradoodle, has been my constant companion through the writing of Sovereign Self, which took almost three long years. The process required me to let go and descend deep within the mystical realms of my being, and connect with the true Self—the boundless essence, Atma, which I talk about in my book. 

It is from here, from that boundless essence where I have always been perfect, complete, and inseparable from Source, that ideas would emerge spontaneously and words would become sentences that shall become path-showers for seekers all over the world. Many times, I would meditate and be lost in trance for hours. Noddy would sit patiently by me, and even sacrifice his desire to bark at his arch-enemy, “Mr. Squirrel.” As long as my eyes were closed, my baby would be quiet as a mouse. But the moment my eyes opened, he would greet me with an explosion of love and affection: “Woof, woof, welcome back to my world, mama; how was your inner world, mama, did you find me in your heart, mama?”  

Noddy and our next-door neighbor’s German Shepherd, Peet, have unresolved karmic issues from a relationship in their former lifetime. As a result, whenever Peet barks, Noddy barks back with recognition and emotional resolve to sort the karma issues in this lifetime itself! As I wrote and talked about the human ego and how it becomes lost in the chase of relationships and things, the experience of watching them go back and forth in their dance of egos, through playtime and tug-time and wagging-tail-time and angry growl-time, made me smile, and reminded me that we really are always enough in who we are. This is what Noddy means to me—when he kisses me with all his inner sweetness intact, he reminds me that while my ego may be employed in worldly tug-of-wars, my true Self remains whole, happy, and incredibly sweet within. Noddy, you are such a reminder!

Sovereign-Self-3D-Cover

Learn More

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Pain as the Path

The wounds, scars, and pain we carry as men have a place in our lives. A function that can lead us directly to the core of deep meaning and fulfillment and provide a positive path forward. This is what initiation was supposed to teach us as men—how to descend into the depths of our own darkness and return a more complete and contributive participant in society.

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And this aspect of the journey is the missing link in male initiation, which has historically played the role of guiding a man through the transitory period between adolescence and adulthood, teaching him the skills of discipline, sovereignty, and the ability to face some of the most challenging aspects of his own life.

In fact, I began to see that not only have most men not been given the tools or resources to deal with the pain and suffering in their lives, but we as men are actively taught the opposite—the idiotic tactic of constant emotional avoidance. Not only this, but our emotional avoidance is seen as a theoretical and rational strength in certain circles.

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There’s more: I began to see the direct correlation between a man’s ability and willingness to face his own darkness and having a clear purpose, deep fulfillment, and clarity of contribution to the things that matter most to him.

But how can we as men give our pain a purpose in a culture where we are largely devoid of emotional permissions? Where the archetype of man, in order to be classified or quantified as a man, must do the impossible task of being brave and courageous without being vulnerable?

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CONNOR BEATON is the founder of ManTalks, an international organization dedicated to the personal growth of men. He is a facilitator dedicated to building better men, an entrepreneur, a writer, and a keynote speaker. Connor has spoken to large corporate brands, nonprofits, schools, and international organizations such as the United Nations, Microsoft, Johnson & Johnson, Apple, TED, and Entrepreneurs' Organization. For more, visit mantalks.com.

This Is Your Time to Be Healthy, Fit, and Fine

Sex, health, happiness, and wealth . . . you know you want it all. And there’s no better time than now for having it all and “gettin’ it good!

Without social networking, motorized vehicles, or modern-day technology, many of our ancestors went for what they wanted and got it. One trailblazing “I’ve got this” woman I revere is Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler. As the Civil War raged in 1864, 33-year-old Rebecca Lee became the first Black female physician in the US. She graduated from what is now Boston University School of Medicine. In 1865, with her husband, Arthur Crumpler, she courageously journeyed to Richmond, Virginia, to provide medical care to recently freed slaves that the White doctors would not touch.

Her life in Virginia wasn’t easy. While there, many pharmacists refused to honor her prescriptions, some hospitals denied her admitting privileges, and some—reportedly, even physician colleagues—wisecracked that the “MD” after her name stood not for medical doctor, but for “mule driver.” But Dr. Crumpler persevered!

She remained in Virginia for almost four years then returned to Boston in 1869, established her medical practice, and wrote a book about women’s and children’s health. She blazed a trail upon which many have and do tread.

Hers is just one story of a brave, determined, capable Black woman. Over the centuries, there have been more in numbers untold! In the 1900s, especially during the Civil Rights Movement, Black women were instrumental in the reckoning of a nation. While their husbands got the most notoriety, matriarchs such as Coretta Scott King, Juanita Abernathy, and Lillian Lewis stood along- side their men and played pivotal roles in moving the nation forward to live up to its creed.

And as the first decade of 2000 ended and a new one began, Black women became increasingly on the move, onward and upward, and are now doctors, accountants, judges, pilots, investment managers, nurses, and elected officials as well as wives, mothers, and caregiving daughters. Undoubtedly, many of today’s Black women are carving out lives about which our great-great- grandmothers may have only dared to dream.

Black women’s voices are no longer muted or silenced; instead, they are heard around the world, with sophisticated, strong, and successful style. In 2020, America elected its first Black female vice president, Kamala Harris, at whose 2021 inauguration the words of the first Youth Poet Laureate of the US, Amanda Gorman, rang forth for the world to hear. But there’s more!

In February 2021, Georgia Tech engineering major Breanna Ivey interned at NASA and helped put their rover, Perseverance, on Mars! And as the COVID-19 pandemic stole lives around the globe, vaccine researcher Kizzmekia Corbett, who has a PhD in microbiology and immunology that she earned at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, worked with the National Institutes of Health and was instrumental in bringing safe, effective vaccines to the world.

Indeed, Black Girl Magic is in full force! When we look around, seemingly there’s hardly any- thing Black women can’t do—and do well—in any field, including medicine, the military, politics, education, technology, business, sports, aeronautics, and the arts. What we put our minds to, we can achieve! With an “I’ve got this” approach and determination, it is ours to be had.

But life is not a bed of roses for all Black women. Too often (and still) negative images barrage our psyches, loved ones in our community lose their lives in gun violence, and our health often needs dramatic improvement. Black women still carry the highest incidence of, and the poorest prognosis for, medical conditions that affect practically every organ system in the body. We are more obese and have a shorter life expectancy than other women in the female demographic, and we carry the highest mortality rate for many killer diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, infant mortality, HIV/AIDS, and more.

Despite those findings, the plight of Black women’s health is rarely, if ever, specifically addressed at length in general women’s health books. For that reason I have stepped outside of my medical office, outside of the sacred space of the surgical suite, even outside of my city and state to offer women in America and abroad Black Women’s Wellness: Your “I’ve Got This!” Guide to Health, Sex, and Phenomenal Living. May it be the one-stop source you can reference on your personal quest to achieve total wellness, health, and happiness in every important aspect of your life. I offer this book as a Black female who grew up poor in a single-parent household. I never knew any of my grandparents, had an absentee father (who I later found when I was 49), a mother with some “issues,” no siblings, and many naysayers in my midst. But to achieve my goals to become a physician and a surgeon, I studied to show myself approved. It wasn’t easy, but I got it done.

Over the years, I’ve seen thousands of women of various ethnicities suffer with chronic diseases, some of which can be avoided, or at least, better controlled. I also know the remarkable and re- warding joy of practicing medicine and performing surgery to remove disease, help women with their infertility, or free them from cancer.

As a physician, my question to you is, Are you taking time to take care of your health? In fact, when did you last really think about—and take time for—your health in a comprehensive, serious, deliberate manner?

Jack Kornfield’s Buddha’s Little Instruction Book reminds us that “each morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.” Kornfield also tells us, “If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.” Whatever your schedule, lifestyle, religious preference, or personal obligation to others, the reality is you won’t be able to do anybody any good if you’re in poor or failing health. As said in the 2021 movie Robin Roberts Presents: Mahalia, “Take one seed of what you give others and plant it in yourself.”

The words and images within these pages present information that is applicable to the specific medical, spiritual, emotional, and social needs of Black women. However, non- Black women can glean valuable information about their health and standing in this book as well because I also provide comparative data for Black, White, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American women, as well as some data about our male counterparts. But special attention is given to Black women because the fact is, Black women’s health concerns and challenges are different from those of other women.

In these pages you will find staggering statistics and a less-than-desirable legacy of Black women’s health. But you will also find tools, medical information, and encouragement that can liberate you and Black women everywhere from a similar fate. With knowledge comes power.

Look at all the wonderful things Black women have done and continue to do when they employ their mind and determination in force. Hold on to that because improving one’s physical health is doable—you can do it!— and changing the trajectory of Black women’s health is also doable. It can be done, and it must be done because changing the health of Black women can change the health of the Black fam- ily and that of all future generations. As you review and compare the health statistics across racial lines presented herein, remember one thing: the goal isn’t to be like White or Asian women; the goal is to be healthier Black women. Black Women’s Wellness provides a head-to-toe medical reference, with information that will carry you for years to come. Some of you might read this book cover to cover, as a whole. Others might read chapters that address your, or a loved one’s, current medical concern, circumstance, or curiosity. Or as you flip through the pages, you might see a pie chart or graph that grabs your attention or gives you pause.

In chapter 1, I begin with my “Societal Stress and Black Women’s Health” flowchart that ties together the psychosocial challenges and micro- aggressions that we face as Black women and how those psychosocial stressors can affect our physi- cal well-being.

In part 1, I present timely information about heart disease, diabetes, maternal mortality, cancers, and HIV/AIDS . . . the top five conditions that are robbing Black women of life and longevity.

In part 2, I hone in on our womanly feminine form and function. As with all creation, the hu- man body is a thing of beauty with wonders it performs! No one would be alive today without a woman’s body, for it is through women that all life is formed and born.

Medical conditions can affect all of us—whether we are tall or short; “thick” or thin; heterosexual or homosexual; light-skinned, “olive-complected,” or the color of rich, dark chocolate. You’ll read about your reproductive anatomy and physiol- ogy and the diseases that can affect your female organs, such as fibroid tumors and endometriosis, but also other medical conditions that cause mid- life “female” problems such as a dropped bladder, urinary incontinence, and pelvic pain. You’ll read about vision problems, arthritic conditions, sickle cell disease, multiple sclerosis, and more. And if you are menopausal and utterly confused about hormone replacement therapy, this part can give you guidance.

No book on wellness is fully complete with- out addressing sex. Can I get an amen? Given my personal experience and professional expertise, I wrote the sex, sensuality, and relationships section with a heterosexual approach. But regardless of your sexual preference or identity, in part 3, you’ll read about the health benefits of having sex (with whoever rocks your boat). There’s also sage infor- mation about sexually transmitted diseases and how to identify any residual sexual hang-ups you may have so you can fully enjoy and benefit from the experience that love-making was meant to be.

Maybe your love life has gone from a sizzle to a fizzle, you have trouble achieving orgasm, or you experience pain with intercourse. Or perhaps you’re wondering if male enhancement medica- tions work in women or how you can possibly en- joy sex in a day of rampant sexually transmitted diseases and men “on the down-low.” Fret not; you’ve come to the right place! I give you tips on how to boost your sex life and get or keep the passion going with your sweetie. I also offer you advice on how to address these intimate issues (including sexual dysfunction) with your doctor.

And last, in part 4, I round out the call for total wellness with information on relationships, love, beauty, mental health, mindfulness, and financial well-being. I also provide a checklist for you to take stock of your health to identify the specific areas that require your medical attention.

To find happiness in a world of frequent, near-daily rejection, it is important to have inner strength, self-assurance, emotional balance, and reliable friends and family. Part 4 will give you useful tips to achieve inner peace, to keep your brain active and alert, and to avoid toxic people. It will advise you on how to capitalize on your best traits and, if needed, minimize those traits you find less desirable or that impede your personal or professional goals.

Proper diet and physical activity for increasing the secretion of endorphins—the “feel good” body chemicals—will be addressed, and tips for hair and skin care will be presented. Lastly, unique medical “pearls of wisdom” will help you improve your interpersonal relationships. Along the way, I will share a few anecdotes of my life’s journey; perhaps they will encourage you to keep moving forward when you feel you just can’t take another step.

I am excited for you and me. Despite the doom and gloom of the past, it is possible for Black women to achieve medical parity and live the best, healthiest life possible in the 21st century. We need not give up hope, for there have been and will continue to be victories and successes in the lives of women whose skin has been bountifully kissed by the sun. As never before, the 21st century presents a new day and an exciting time in health-care technology, research education, and improved medical outcomes, and no woman—whether Asian, Hispanic, Native American, White, or Black—should be left behind. Not anymore. This can yet be our time to shine, as many of us are living well past the statistical projections of life and death . . . and doing so in healthy, fine, fun, and sexy style!

Total wellness and phenomenal living are aspirations many Black women enjoy and others seek to attain. It can be done; the journey begins with just one step. Black Women’s Wellness may prove to be the long-needed source that can encourage, educate, comfort, and celebrate you, me, and Black women everywhere. With the information in this book, the evergreen list of resources I’ve provided at the end, and an “I’ve got this!” determination, your 21st-century journey to total wellness, physical health, and phenomenal living can begin right now. Let’s get started!

Melody T. McCloud, MD, is an obstetrician-gynecologist-surgeon, media consultant, public speaker, and author. She lectures nationwide on women’s health, sex, and social issues and has served on an advisory council of the CDC. Affiliated with Emory University Hospital Midtown, Dr. McCloud was honored as one of the 25 most influential doctors in Atlanta and named Physician of the Year by the Atlanta Business Chronicle. She has appeared on CNN, ABC, NBC, Court TV, and in the New York Times, USA Today, the Washington Post, Parade, the New England Journal of Medicine, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and more.

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