In Ayurveda, it is said that we are one with nature. Back when everyone was relying on the foods they grew out of the ground for nourishment, people were naturally eating a seasonal diet because they were living in off the various harvests of the year. This is the way we were meant to live, as nature intended. However, in modern day, we can get practically any food we want in any season. This disrupts the natural cycle of our bodies. But through consciously paying attention to the body and what it needs during different times of the year, we can adjust our eating to match the rhythm of nature.
During the spring, everything is sprouting into life and emerging from the long winter. It is predominantly a kapha season. Kapha is the dosha that is cool, heavy and moist, so eating foods that are opposite in nature such as dry, warm, and rough is best. The springtime season calls for foods that are lower in calories and fat, so this is the best time for light foods such as soups and salads. Foods such as lentils, beans, radishes, and all sprouts are in season and should be eaten in abundance. Most fruits are not ripe yet, so it’s best to eat dried fruits. In traditional farming communities, fruits were dried in the fall and eaten through winter and spring when fresh fruits were unavailable. Beans from peas, limas, garbanzos, and all others would all off the stalk in the winter and sprout in the springtime, bringing fresh nutrients, vitamins, and chlorophyll to whoever eats it. Leafy greens such as kale, chard, and asparagus shoot up from the ground in abundance. These bitter greens will help scrape out the mucus off the intestines and clean the blood by supporting the living, preventing mucous buildup and excess kapha in the body. In the spring, it’s important to avoid kapha-aggravating foods such as dairy. This is because during the winter, the body’s defense mechanism against the cold and dry is to produce lots of mucous and keep things lubricated. However, when spring comes around, the body needs to eliminate the excess mucous otherwise toxins build up in the body and it becomes congested. By eating bitter, astringent foods such as leafy greens, the body can eliminate the buildup. It is important to avoid dairy during this time, as milks and cheeses causes more mucous.
The summertime brings the dosha of fire and water called pitta. Pitta can be translated as the metabolism, as it is hot and demands high amounts of energy. Carbohydrates are a fast, efficient source of fuel, and the body demands fruits and vegetables to meet these needs. In a seasonal cycle, the majority of your diet should come from these carbs. Raw vegetables such as cucumbers, bell peppers, broccoli, and tomatoes are wonderful to incorporate into your summer diet since they are free of fats and contain cooling properties. Summertime is best to favor sweet foods to combat the internal fire, so sweeteners are okay and it is best to eat fruits such as mangos and cherries.
The shift into the fall season brings qualities of the air and ether dosha called vata. Vata is rough, light, and dry, and should be combated with things that are warm, moist, and smooth. In the fall harvests, nature provides us with the right foods to do so as there is an abundance of warming root vegetables such as beets, carrots, and potatoes to help ground us and reduce vata. Grains, legumes, nuts and seeds are also harvested during this time and bring us the qualities we need to thrive during this season. Winter is also a vata season, and is when the heavy, moist, and warm properties of diet should be even more emphasized. This is when cooked grains such as oatmeal in the morning are best. Cooked vegetables help combat the dry and cold of the vata season, along with other heavy foods such as avocados, bananas, beets, winter squash, nuts, oils, and sweet potatoes. It is important to increase protein in the winter to provide the body with essential fuel and avoid inappropriate craving throughout the rest of the year, therefore this is the best time to eat red meats. If you’re vegetarian, pay close attention to increasing your protein by eating more tofu, beans, and legumes.
When looking at the natural cycles of the earth, it makes sense that our diets should be synchronized with these rhythms. When the internal state matches that which is going on around us, we find harmony and balance. The gut also plays an essential role in the way we digest and assimilate the foods that we eat, and in next weeks article we will dig deeper into digestion and detoxing. Health is easily attained when we are in tune with our bodies, and Ayurveda helps to empower and educate people. In our upcoming workshop, we will talk about seasonal diet and go into more detail of what foods and lifestyle changes should be made for summer time. We hope to see you there!
Santa Cruz Ayurveda
Doulliard, John. “The 3 Season Diet”. Three Rivers Press, New York. 2000.