Best Summertime Foods to CHILL OUT!
I LOVE summertime! That said, living in LA with the high temperatures can definitely take the stuffing out of me if I'm not careful.
This time of the year, in Ayurveda, is referred to as Pitta Season (pitta dosha). Its characteristics are hot, intense, dry and sharp. The attributes that are dominant in this time of the year (in most places) are fire and water. In Ayurveda, these doshas are also in our own makeup (some people more than others). It's important that we maintain these characteristics both physically and emotionally as well. We all know that having a "hot temper" or being too intense is not something any of us want.
As Summer is also considered to be dry, the cummulative effects of heat can dry things out. I notice this in my skin when I travel to the east coast in the summer. This is because, as we move deeper into summer, our bodies heat up, which can manifest in dry or irritated skin, allergies and even digestive issues.
If you notice any of these symtoms, it's because you've accumulated access heat. So as not to get overheated, overstimulated or overscheduled, our diet, daily habits and routines have to balance these qualities...or else you'll burn out. There are many ways to literally "chill out" and release these sharp, hot qualities of summer.
Starting with your diet is a great way to cool things down. Summer is a bountiful time of the year with fresh fruits, berries, and plenty of greens and veggies.
Farmers markets and local produce markets are overflowing with summer produce, so just start to look at what is growing in your local eco-system. Focus on buying foods that are in season, not imported and that are organic and pesticide free. Support your local farmers and become a part of the connection economy.
Generally, to keep pitta in balance, we should favor sweet, bitter and astringent foods and choose wet foods over dry foods. Here are some tips on how Ayurvedic foods can help you keep your cool this summer.
Sweet foods are important as they encourage moisture in the body, which of course quells fire. Adding more sweet foods does not mean adding honey or sugar to everything, or only eating processed sugars. It means consuming more naturally sweet foods.
Choose some of the following sweet foods to begin balancing out the summer heat:
• Basmati Rice
• Bread (wheat is good)
• Butter and ghee
Fully Ripened Fruits are also a great source of healthy sweets for your body in hot weather.
• Seasonal Berries
Pitta-pacifying vegetables are bitter in flavor. Bitter flavors are great to quell heat because they have drying properties. They cool us off by drying any cloying sweat or dampness from accumulated moisture. Some options include:
• Green Beans
• Leafy vegetables like collard, dandelion and kale
Astringent foods are preventative. They are drying just like bitter foods, but in a deeper way — they actually help to stop the spread of overacting Pitta rather than just quell any heat. Here a just a few to test out:
• Legumes of any kind but specifically black beans, mung beans, peas, adzuki, garbanzo, chick peas and lentils.
You can spice things up a little using pitta-pacifying herbs on many of the above ingredients. Test out these cooking spices:
• Dill (Sprinkle over beans for an added kick).
• Fennel (This goes wonderfully cooked into those zucchinis).
• Mint (Add some shredded fresh mint and a squeeze of lime to your watermelon —yum)
• Cinnamon (Pop it on your pear slices).
• Cardamom (Add this to your rice as it cooks for added flavor).
• Coriander (Sizzle this into your green bean with a little hot coconut oil or add to your split pea soup).
Stick to using coconut or sunflower oil or ghee in hot weather to stay on top of your Pitta tendencies.
FOODS TO REDUCE
• Salty snacks
• Hot sauces
• Red Meat
FOODS TO AVOID
To create the full Ayurvedic-style balance in your Pitta-pacifying diet, you will want to stay away from salt, pepper, vinegar and garlic as much as possible, all of which encourage heat in the body.
Minimize vegetables with heating properties such as tomatoes, hot peppers, radishes, onions and spinach, and reduce salty foods as much as possible as they can dehydrate you.
Definitely stay away from hot spices such as dried ginger, cayenne and mustard seed, and reduce your intake of sour foods like citrus, yogurt, buttermilk and sour cream as they will warm you up.
MORE IMPORTANT THAN WHAT YOU EAT IS WHEN YOU EAT
A FEW of the key habits to OPTIMIZING energy, digestion and feeling like a million bucks are:
• Eat an Earlier Lighter Dinner - optimally between 5-6pm
• Don't go to bed with a full belly. If your body is in digestion mode when you're sleeping it cannot do what it is meant to be doing which is detoxify, regenerate and heal. You'll wake up with more energy, feeling light and ready to jumpstart your day.
• Make lunch your biggest, most nutrient dense meal of the day as your digestive fire is burning brightest btwn. 10am and 2pm.
• DON'T SNACK- giving your digestion time between meals to FULLY digest. Intermittent Fasting is one of the best things we can do for optimal digestion, weight loss/ stabilization and overall health and well being.