How To Eat Better This Summer With Ayurveda
Ayurveda is an ancient practice that derives from India and is the basis of holistic healing. It provides a wholesome diet and lifestyle pointers on maintaining health and preventing disease.
Ayurveda advocates eating during particular seasons of the year to aid in healthier digestion. It is the act of acknowledging that nature provides us with the remedies to the powerful qualities of each season.
Eating in season is not only economic and delicious but it supports healthy digestion, better sleep, a clear mind, stronger immune system and boosts a more positive outlook on life.
So the next time you are in the local market, fill your basket with some of summer greats: berries, cherries, watermelons, mint, cucumbers, cilantro, and sprouts. Great for fresh salads or a watermelon mint drink! Yum!
By choosing certain favorite foods and reducing others, you’ll completely improve your health through the summer!
So, how does Ayurveda determines the health condition of each body system?
Ayurveda looks to three energies or doshas. Every dosha are made of two elements (either earth, water, fire, air or space) and with this exclusive composition, it performs specific functions within the body:
Pitta dosha: Manages the digestion and is made of fire and water
Vata dosha: Governs all the bodily movements and is made out of air space
Kapha dosha: Oversees structure, stability and lubrication (these include the cerebral spinal fluid, memory, joint fluid, etc.) It is made out of earth and water
In order to see an overall impact on your health, the doshas will have to be performing well. But if any one of them gets disrupted, then the system it controls shows signs and symptoms of irritation and disease.
Ayurveda teaches that the hot days of summer are regulated by the pitta dosha, which is the energy that consists of fire and water elements.
The pitta dosha main qualities are oily, hot, light, liquid, and sharp. These qualities manifest as the digestive acids and enzymes. These bodily liquids are secreted within the stomach and the small intestine to support pitta’s main digestive function.
If the pitta accumulates too much, it is common to experience more blazing sensations and intense emotion. This is in part to overexposure to summer weather or pitta-instigating food choices causing acid reflux and skin rashes, impatience, frustration and an angry temperament.
With its sharp fire, pitta also regulates proper emotional and mental digestion. Pitta permits us to digest information and process experiences, providing the discernment, wit, and mental clarity.
Since our mind and body are affected by what is going on with nature, we tend to feel more irritated and feel hot due to increase temperature and humidity during the summer.
The innate desire to seek cooler shelter during the pitta season of summer makes perfect sense. In alignment with of Ayurvedic teaching, this desire displays a favoring comforting activities the opposite of pitta’s qualities such as: going for a swim, taking vacations, or just relaxing in the shade.
These minimal lifestyle changes really makes a difference to how cool and calm are dispositions can be! These simple approaches can be applied to balancing favorable diet choices too.
Foods You Are Going to Want to Reduce During the Summer
Chicken enchilada in smothering sauce and tequilas may be very tempting on a summer night out, way too much spicy foods combined with alcohol is a guaranteed way to boost the pitta energy and cause digestive issues.
If you can recall, pitta’s qualities are oily, hot, light and sharp. Eating foods with the same qualities as mentioned above, will increase the intensity of those same qualities in your mind and body.
A post-enchilada dinner will leave you with mental agitation acid reflux. No bueno.
The comprehensive approach towards making healthier summer food choices is to:
Reduce greasy, oily, over sautéed, fried foods
Reduce hot, spicy, pungent, sour, salty foods
Cut down on foods with the following: garlic, ginger, chili, cayenne, jalapeno; fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, other sour fruits; and canned veggies, potato chips, and hard cheeses
Reduce acidic foods like red meats and nightshades veggies like potato, tomato, eggplant and peppers
The best way to enjoy a juicy tomato is by eating it raw this summer. Fresher tomatoes are much better than fried, cooked and stewed. These processes causes a tomato serving to be too salty, acidic, and oily- a true pitta dynamic. Keep snacking on those raw cherry tomatoes instead!
Lastly, I know you need your coffee in the morning, I know I do. But, cut down on it - drinking too much of it doing the summer as it is known to increase the pitta energy quite rapidly.
The same can be said with alcohol.
The great news is that you can choose to drink beer than the hard mixers and wine. Just be sure to choose organic microbrews at the next cookout!
Foods You Are Going to Want to Enjoy During the Summer
Refreshing. Sweet. Juicy. These should be key words to think off when it comes to eating for the summer. The weather is hot and humid, so reaching for coconut water over soda would be ideal. So, keep your drink and food selections favorable and opposite of pitta.
Keeping nourished on what’s in season is the optimal way to stay hydrated and keep your digestive function healthy.
Indulge in foods that make up of the following tastes and flavors to ensure the pitta energy is balanced:
Sweet: Fruits and berries, organic milk, egg whites, soft cheeses, most grains (preferably spelt, amaranth, and other ancient grains), white meat
Astringent: Cranberries, pomegranate, rinds of veggies, black tea
Bitter: Leafy greens, fennel, celery, asparagus, sprouts, aloe, most veggies
Citrus: switch from lemon to lime. The lime is more palatable for the pitta energy so squeeze one in your cup of water or your favorite favorite meal
Summer veggies and fruits are fully ripened with the help of the bountiful sun. This makes them easier to digest and more enjoy for the delicious flavors they possess. Meals should be easy to whip up and less complicated like fruits, veggie salads, and herbal teas. Spend less time cooking and more time enjoying the preparation and the final product as you savor it.
Be sure to do some planning ahead when preparing your fresh produce. On an average, it takes about 30 minutes or so to wash and chop fresh veggies and fruits. Store veggies and fruits in glass containers and pop them in a freezer when not in used. I enjoy frozen berries and a scoop of unsalted sunflower seed butter as a quick snack in between breakfast and lunch. So delicious and refreshing after being under the sun!
With simple, sweet grains like quinoa and basmati rice, you can quickly cook up this great side to any meal. If you are craving something hot, whip up a delicious bowl of veggie broth and your favorite white meat and basmati rice on the side.
With the summer heat and outdoor activities, reaching for something to drink for hydration is an obvious choice to make. If you’re tired of the basic taste of water why not make it fancy?! Add some cucumber slices or watermelon slices and sprigs of fresh mint!
For a more refreshing quenchable drink after a workout, go with coconut water for its hydrating and electrolyte replenishing properties.
Swap your hot coffee to a black tea or herbal tea such as jasmine, rose, chamomile, hibiscus or mint teas. These teas are very cooling during the pitta season.
Enjoy your meals in cooler, airy locations like eating dinner under the moonlight, enjoying a picnic in the shade courtesy of an elegant, billowy tree, or partaking in a meal at sunset near a beach with seaside breezes.
Summer is all about fun, spending time with family and friends and enjoying great (pitta balancing) food. It is about doing fun activities, laughing, and sharing stories. It’s the perfect antidote for sharing the sweetness of summer. Enjoy!
To take the FREE and fun interactive Dosha quiz to your own unique combination of Doshas based on your personality, click here!
What are your favorite pitta-balancing foods? What are some refreshing activities you are looking forward to doing this summer? I am looking forward to enjoying more delicious berries and immersing in the waters at the beach! Your turn! Share + Comment below!
Note | This post contains affiliate links.
Cam At The NIH: Focus on Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
Atreya . Penguin Penguin Putnam Inc; New York: 2002. Perfect Balance: Ayurvedic Nutrition for Mind, Body, and Soul.