In the hot months of summer our digestion begins to slow down as the body spends its energy keeping the body from over heating. This is important to remember as we move into the season of BBQs, frozen treats, and lots of time in the sun.
In the summer it is no surprise that we begin to crave things to keep us cool like iced drinks, frozen treats, and shade. This is a natural response from our body to help maintain homeostasis. Summer is the Pitta season, according to Ayurveda, and contains the qualities of fire and water like oily, pungent, hot, spreading, sharp, and light. Our physical form and mental state are affected by these qualities and take them on. This is why it is important to bring the opposite quantities to maintain balance.
One easy way to balance the heat is to incorporate bitter, astringent, and sweet flavors into the diet. Bitter tastes come from leafy greens, astringent from many fruits and spices, and sweet from the fruits of the season (sweet doesn’t mean sweets or chocolate, in this case.) These tastes offer a cooling sensation to the body and are easier to digest when our digestion is not its strongest. It is good to reduce the tastes of salty, pungent (spicy), and sour. Foods dominant in these tastes create more heat and are harder for us to digest in the heat of summer. If you can’t give up those spicy tacos, make sure to load them up with lots of cilantro and avocado to balance them out.
It is also important to make lunch your largest meal and to eat between 12 and 2 pm because this is when our digestion is the strongest. Below is a list of foods to incorporate into the diet over the summer. Some of these will have multiple tastes, but are listed in their dominant taste.
- Aloe vera
- Bitter Melon and Gourd
- Cocoa (at least 80% and 1 oz or less)
- Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, arugula, cabbage, radishes
- Leafy greens
- Oat Bran
- Oats (and astringent)
- Alfalfa Sprouts
- Aloe Vera
- Chicken (white meat)
- Sesame Seeds
- Pomegranate (tastes sour on the tongue but is both astringent and bitter)
- All the Berries
- Coconut Milk/Water
- Dairy (in small amounts)
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Rice (basmati, white, wild)
- Rice Cakes
- Sprouted Wheat Bread
- Wheat Bran
- Basil (Bitter and Astringent)
- Bay Leaf (Astringent)
- Cardamom (Astringent)
- Cilantro – Did you know coriander grows into cilantro?
- Clove (Astringent)
- Coconut Oil (Sweet and Astringent)
- Coriander (Astringent)
- Dill (Astringent)
- Fennel (Astringent)
- Fenugreek (Bitter)
- Ginger (Bitter) – In moderation
- Marjoram (Astringent)
- Mint (Astringent)
- Nutmeg (Astringent)
- Oregano (Astringent)
- Parsley (Astringent)
- Rosemary (Astringent)
- Saffron (Astringent)
- Turmeric (Bitter)
- Vanilla (Sweet and Astringent)
Enjoying a ice cold lemonade on a hot day sounds pretty refreshing. However, this can kill our digestive fire and cause gas, bloating, and discomfort if we consume iced beverages with our food. Enjoy your cold drinks throughout the day, but try to have room temperature drinks with and up to two hours after meals to help aid in digestion.
Take Time to Chill
Another great way to keep cool is through reducing very strenuous exercise and doing your hardest physical efforts early in the morning before it is too hot and when the body is the most stable. Consider changing out your hot yoga classes for a slow flow and keep your exercise non-competitive. Offer yourself lots of space to relax. Relax in a hammock with a good book. Sit in the shade with loved ones and spot cloud animals.
Always stay hydrated. Make sure to consume at least half your body weight in oz of water which will include liquid in your foods. Keep your skin protected with sunscreen and appropriate summer gear like a sun shirt or hat.
Want some helpful tips on cooking this summer?
Please join me on July 18 from 10am-12pm EST for Ayurveda Kitchen: Cooking Class for Summer where we will prepare two main dishes and a sweet treat. This will be live, so you will be able to ask questions and cook along with me! Once registered, I will send the recipes, grocery list, and if you register by July 9 you will also receive a spice pack and a special gift. Enroll now! yogawithangelina.com/online