How Can You Achieve Your Best Health Throughout the Years, the Seasons and Your Life? As we transition through life, we have different needs in the context of food, sleep and play. Our lives can demand more or less of us depending on our jobs, personalities and environments. Seasons change our instincts around foods that may be cold or hot, comforting or invigorating. You’ll already know so much of this but this article will help you better understand why you make the choices you do around foods.
Ayurveda Prescribes Foods as Medicine
Every new season brings with it a transition from one season to the next. With Ayurveda’s framework, these transitions can be managed beautifully with the right tastes and foods.
FALL (November to February)
Our biggest challenge in transitioning from summer to fall is to first reduce accumulated heat from the summer and then to find foods that nourish and warm us from the cold, windy elements present in the fall. Summer’s high Pitta (fire) and fall’s cold dry Vata (wind) are the key doshas that need to be balanced. Fall’s weather can provoke stress and is an important time to shift our eating habits to things that are soothing to keep the nervous system stable and build up the immune system (Ojas).
The tastes of salt, sweet and sour all contribute in varying ways to building immunity (also known as Ojas) for the season of fall. Salt is heating and also brings minerals and nutrients deep into our bodily tissues. Sweet is nourishing and opens up and nourishes the tissues. Sour is heating and stimulates digestion.
Ayurveda prescribes eating foods like apples to cool the heat of summer and to clear the intestinal tract near the end of summer. This is also a good time to include orange foods such as carrots that have beta-carotene to clear high Pitta and tonify the liver. This approach reduces toxins (also known as “ama”) and ultimately prevents a buildup of mucous. As Fall begins and temperatures go down, it is time to cook more, and include things like pumpkin, apple pie and proteins and fats and to eat slightly larger portions.
Foods to include in your fall regime….Grains (rice, oats), Fruits (citrus) and Veggies (cooked). Add spices where you can and reduce beans in your diet as they can be Vata imbalancing if overused.
SPRING (March to June)
In the winter we tend to retain water to combat the dryness of the season. This strategy is what tends to cause allergies in the spring as the Earth retains water and so our shift now is to reduce the tendency to retain water. We do this by shifting the foods we eat, and the tastes can help to guide us in this process. We can include more pungent foods which are clearing, bitter foods that are detoxifying and astringent foods that are drying and lightening and will absorb water.
Nature shares with us at this time of year an abundance of light green vegetables and leafy greens that are light and detoxifying. There are several varieties of berries that also show up this season that are mucous free and fat free and aimed at cleansing the body of excess fats. This is a season of weight loss and cleansing – purifying the body after the winter diet of meats, nuts and grains.
Foods to include in your Spring regime…Vegetables (Asparagus, Brussel sprouts, Celery, Cabbage), Dried Fruit (Figs, Prunes, Apricots), Spices (Pepper, Cayenne), Legumes (Kidney beans, Lentils), Herbal Teas (Dandelion, Orange), and Raw Honey
SUMMER (July to October)
The heat of summer will reduce the water of spring. Summer is a time of high energy. Your summer diet provides that energy in the form of fruits, vegetables and carbohydrates. Energy is also found in the body’s conditioning to burn fat for fuel – a conditioning that is the result of your spring detoxification and spurts of summer fasting. Without this conditioning in the spring, your body will struggle with energy and blood sugar levels. It is also advised that one or two days a week you do a mini fast by not eating from 6PM to 9AM or some variant of this time frame. This will again condition your body to burn fat for energy instead of requiring a continued supply of carbohydrates and sugar for fast energy.
Your summer diet will mostly contain cooling foods and liquid and a reduction of foods that are heating such as sour, salty or spicy. The following tastes should be included in your summer diet – sweet that is cooling, bitter which is detoxifying and astringent. Ensure you get as much Vitamin D by getting outdoors. Vitamin D is stored in your fat cells and is part of your winter’s immunity.
Foods to include in your summer regime…Dairy (milk, butter, ghee, cottage cheese). Sweeteners that are unrefined (Sucanut). Oils (Olive and Coconut). Grains (Wheat, white rice, barley, oats). Fruits (Grapes, Cherries, Melons). Vegetables (Cucumbers, Sweet Peppers, Green leafy vegetables, broccoli).
As it turns out nature has everything under control
and if we follow the cycle of nature and live in harmony with it
we will thrive and survive.
Sol BARRE, Pilates & Yoga/SOL Wellness