Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth yoga, fitness, & nutrition courses, when you sign up for Outside+.
Infuse the principles of Ayurveda into your Thanksgiving meal this year to share the gifts of health, wellness, and happiness with loved ones.
We all love the Thanksgiving tradition of coming together with family for a shared feast. But the annual post-meal bloat, fatigue, and indigestion? Not so much. Fortunately, there are strategic ingredients, based on the principles of Ayurveda, you can include in your menu that will give your loved ones the rich flavors they’re craving, while also supporting digestion and seasonal health. By infusing your meal with Ayurveda’s six tastes—sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, and astringent—you can create a satisfying experience for guests, regardless of their body-mind type (or dosha). That way, everyone will leave the table feeling happy, not overstuffed and sluggish.
“Fall Ayurvedic recipes tend to be heavy, moist, and slightly oily, with lots of coconut oil and ghee to balance out the dry, cold qualities of the season,” says Kate O’Donnell, author ofThe Everyday Ayurveda Cookbook. “But your Thanksgiving table should also have dishes with langhana, or lightening tastes—bitter, astringent, and pungent—so you’re not just creating a dense meal.” Serving all six tastes is believed to nourish all seven of the body’s Ayurvedic tissues, or dhatus, to help you feel your best, explains Carrie Demers, MD, medical director of PureRejuv Wellness Center in Honesdale, Pennsylvania.
See also Ayurvedic Detox Techniques for Fall
Dhatus has a looser meaning than Western medicine’s definition of “tissues,” and can refer to fluids and systems of the body in addition to the standard tissues like muscle and fat. The seven tissues are: rasa (plasma and lymph); rakta (blood); mamsa (muscle); meda (fat); asthi (cartilage and bone); majja (nervous system); and shukra (reproductive fluids). “When all tissues have received nourishment, then we get ojas, which is our immunity, our extra power, our extra juice,” says O’Donnell.
Another Ayurvedic guideline is to seek out seasonal and regional ingredients, recommends Scott Blossom, an Ayurveda expert based in Berkeley, California. “If you eat what’s being harvested in the northern hemisphere in November, such as Brussels sprouts and yams, nature will help support your immune system without weakening digestive fire,” he says.
So, think of your holiday meal as a chance to showcase fall foods and provide vital energy to those you care about most. And the Ayurvedic sides here can help you do just that. Besides, isn’t it time that turkey (or tofurkey) shared the limelight?
Four Ayurvedic Thanksgiving Sides
- Whipped Yams with Coconut Cream
- Fennel-Roasted Brussels Sprouts
- Wild Rice Stuffing
- Tomato Date Chutney
About our writer
Shannon Sexton is a freelance writer based in Honesdale, Pennsylvania. Kate O’Donnell, author of The Everyday Ayurveda Cookbook, is a certified Ayurvedic practitioner and yoga teacher based in Boston (kateodonnell.yoga).