Food and Lifestyle Guidelines for Spring

Spring is a season of celebration from sprouts bursting through the ground to baby animals being born. Spring is the time when the world begins to awaken after winter. Energy moves up and plants and flowers bloom. Rain soaks the earth. The land feels heavy with moisture. Like spring, our bodies are ready for the natural opportunity for feeling fresh and clean. Our bodies are ready to lighten up, cleanse our accumulated imbalances, and rejuvenate our tissues. People tend to feel more energetic and ready to go outdoors. The qualities of spring are warm, moist, and gentle. Spring is Kapha season, which is based off of the Kapha dosha (body constitution). As the weather melts away the cold of winter, the body melts accumulated Kapha. This is why many people get spring colds. It is also a time when flowers release their pollen and fragrance, which makes many people suffer from allergies and fever.

In spring, it is the time to get rid of excess Ama (toxins) and to detoxify the gut. This begins by switching from the heavy, dense foods of winter to greens and the use of more herbs.

Winter Build Up Over winter, toxins (Ama) from undigested foods, the air, chemicals, pollution, GMOs, to preservatives build up in our bodies. Normally in winter, our Agni (digestive fire) is depleted and Ama builds up, which can lead to sluggishness, a few extra pounds on our bodies, poor sleep, digestive issues, and stress. The Ayurvedic solution is to detox the body naturally through food, as it is naturally build to do that in spring.

Spring Food Your body will begin to naturally to crave more vegetables, fruits, and salads as the weather begins to warm up. This is its signal to you that it’s time for spring- cleaning.

Structure your diet around eating lots of fresh (but not necessarily raw) vegetables and a variety of legumes. Most vegetables are great for this time of the year! Avocado, olives, sweet potato, squash and zucchini should all be slightly reduced, as they can be heavy. Many benefit from eating lots of dark greens such as kale, dandelion, cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower.

We suggest beginning to avoid heavy, oily foods as well as too many sweet, sour, and salty foods. These will provoke lethargy and heaviness in the body. Also, stay away from dairy products, especially ice cream and cold drinks, as this will increase congestion and can worsen a cold. We suggest eating more bitter, pungent, and astringent foods. The best herbs for spring are ginger, black pepper, cumin, coriander, and fennel. This means adding more dark greens into your diet! All legumes, such as yellow split peas, red lentils, and garbanzo and pinto beans are great for this season. Spinach, kale, radishes, okra, garlic, and onion can be used with black pepper, cayenne pepper, and chili pepper. Though only lightly depending on your constitution. In spring you want to cut out most of the meat in your diet, especially seafood. Chicken, turkey and rabbit are okay. Try to eliminate or reduce in spring: fast food, too many sweets, soy products, nuts, excess breads, or frozen foods. We suggest if possible to not drink any iced or chilled drinks.

As spring comes and the weather begins to heat up, you want to eat a Kapha-pacifying diet, which we will discuss more in our upcoming workshops. When spring begins to transition in summer, you’ll want to switch to a pitta-pacifying regimen. As the weather changes from rainy to hot it is important to have day-to-day awareness and use common sense of what foods are best. In general, take your diet in spring day by day. If it’s warm eat lighter foods and perhaps some raw vegetables. If it’s cold eat more warm and cooked foods.

Lifestyle Spring is a natural time to socialize and to foster meaningful relationships. It is a time to play and feel renewed. It is suggested to wake up early and go for a morning walk or do yoga. This will keep you energized throughout the day. If you sleep in, it will create a lack of energy and a lethargic tendency. We also do not suggest taking naps in spring. Sleeping in the day will aggravate Kapha and feelings of lethargy.

Start a morning routine to start your day off right and to feel energized throughout the day.  Making time for exercise or yoga in the morning will promote clarity and improved energy.

Try something new, embrace a feeling of play and adventure, and express yourself through your passions.

References:

Doulliard, John. The 3-Season Diet. Three Rivers Press, 2000. 81-84, 109-117. Lad, Vasant. The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies. Three Rivers Press, 1998. 63, 69-70.

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