Summertime is a season of the fire element, bringing in warmth and activity. From the Ayurvedic perspective when ever the external environment heats up there will be a corresponding increase in heat throughout the body/mind. Patterns found in nature can also be manifested in our bodies.
The heat of Summer is associated with a good healthy metabolism and a good appetite. But when we are out of balance we can get overheated. This can manifest as irritation and anger; and create a vulnerability to inflammatory conditions, food allergies and skin rashes especially with too much sun exposure.
Staying balanced in the summer requires adopting lighter eating habits with cooling foods and eating practices. Here are my tips for creating healthy summer eating habits…
- During the summer avoid foods that increase the heat in your body such as chilies, vinegar, oily foods, fried foods, fermented foods, salt, cheese and sour foods. In place of these items, eat foods that have a cooling effect on your body such as sweet, watery fruits like melons and mangoes and green leafy vegetables.
- Drink cool liquids: water, mint tea, fruit juice or “lassi”. Other nourishing drinks for pitta dosha are pomegranate juice, aloe vera juice and coconut water.
- Make a cooling spice tea adding one quarter teaspoon fennel seed, two rose buds and one clove to freshly boiling water. Steep covered about 10” and cool to room temperature to drink.
- Avoid ice cold drinks or carbonated beverages as they interfere with digestion.
- Avoid or minimize all caffeinated and/or alcoholic beverages as they have a strong imbalancing effect on pitta dosha. If drinking alcohol, beer is the best during summer. Follow with plenty of water.
- Minimize sugar intake as sugar and most sweeteners (especially honey and molasses) aggravate pitta dosha.
- Eat sweet, ripe, raw fruits like melons, apples, grapes, peaches and cherries. Pears are extra cooling for pitta, eat one per day during the summer. If berries are still available, eat them.
- Favor salads and cooling foods like cucumber, lettuce, cauliflower, asparagus, broccoli, zucchini, rice and milk (dairy, almond or coconut). Lots of kale. Make morning green drinks.
- Avoid salty and picante foods. Favor only light meats and fish, broiled or made into soup.
- Favor cooling spices like cardamom, mint, fennel and anise.
- Try freshly squeezed watermelon and cucumber juice with a hint of rose water. Very refreshing.
- Avoid all nuts except soaked almonds and raw, unsalted, pumpkin or sunflower seeds
- Eating kitchari (mung-bean and rice soup) is a good source of protein while gently cooling and detoxifying the whole body. Add shredded coconut for extra cooling qualities.
Beneficial Summer Herbs
Mint– is a cooling herb physically, mentally and emotionally, and supports digestion. Lime water with fresh mint made as a sun tea is very refreshing.
Fennel– seeds can be chewed after meals to support digestion. Combining fennel, cumin and coriander seeds (CCF tea) as a tea to drink throughout the day is wonderful for digestion and balance.
Asparagus Root (shatavari) – both a summertime rejuvenative herb as well as an excellent herb for women’s health. Prepare by simmering one tsp. in a cup of rice, almond or organic whole milk with ½ tsp of dried ginger powder before breakfast (per Dr. Scott Blossom).
Triphala– probably the oldest Ayervedic herbal recipe for detoxification and rejuvenation of the whole body. Take one to three capsules before sleep or in the morning for good elimination patterns and to detoxify the organs.
Want more inspiration for summer eating? Follow me on Pinterest where I’m sharing my favorite summer recipes and self-care practices.
*Photo from Banyan Botanicals