Hot and Cold Nature, a Nepali Perspective


Only a few months ago, I read a post that Nepali Jiwan wrote regarding when to eat “hot” or “cold” foods that didn’t pertain to the taste. In that time, I had a vision of a person in a tree with the head in the branches and the navel a wheel of Dharma spinning into the legs dipped in water. This week I found that image I’d created on the cover of a book called Prakriti by Dr. Robert Svoboda. In two days I finished the book and found more to read on the subject.
The parts that have stuck with me most are the parts that define hot and cold people. Shiva and I have had many a difference of opinion on hot vs. cold and perhaps it may be due to our nature. I am a strong Pitta Vata constitution. In the Ayurvedic tradition this means that my nature is that of fire, air, and some water lacking greatly in the grounding nature of the earth. I am driven by movement, transformation and light. The fire nature of the overwhelming Pitta nature also sparks my intensity in the form of anger and frustration. I have great strength as a result of this, but also suffer from impatience.
The concepts regarding my newly discovered Pitta Vata nature is that of the Dosha or balance. It is the balance between the elements Earth, Fire, Water, and Air. Between these for corners is housed a triangle of Pitta (fire and water in nature), Vata (fire and air), and Kapha (air and earth). In my reading, I discovered that in traditional Ayurvedic medicine, these Doshas are critical for diet and daily life. For example, Shiva and I were discussing his need for the sun and in this model, his need for the sun is heavily influenced by his Vata nature. Vatas are cold by nature, always seeking warmth. So Shiva may feel cold and a need for the sun, while my Pitta-vata nature is hot, unreasonably feels a desire for more heat, and increases its own hot-headed nature.
The thing that made me think of Nepali Jiwan’s post, is that she mentions after birth that women are thought to be cold and need hot foods. She mentions that its a mix that tastes bitter and sweet, to warm them back up. She mentioned the presence of fenugreek, which western medicine regards as a good herb to breastmilk production being included in the mix. Vata is considered the cold nature. If a woman is considered “cold” she is considered heavy with Vata and must be fed pungent, bitter, and astringent foods. She might be fed lentils, greens, and cardamom, cumin, ginger. This is just an example and certainly doesn’t represent all the options for a “Vata” diet. What I think is amazing is that so many of the herbs, spices, and foods listed have a scientific purpose postpartum. For example, breastfeeding women and new infants need an extremely high source of folic acid, such as broccoli, collard greens, and asparagus…all foods in the Nepali Vata or “cold” diet.
I think the whole concept of Vata, Pitta, and Kapha is amazing and seems to be spot on for Shiva and I. I am going to be analyzing this diet more closely and seeing how making changes in our diets affects our moods.


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