It is always wise, as the seasons change, to make adjustments to our daily routines to stay in alignment with the natural world. This weekend is the first weekend of summer, and a good time to prepare ourselves for the transition into the warmest months of the year. One of the ways we can do this is by shifting to a summer diet. The best foods to eat at this time of year are organic, fresh fruits and vegetables, either raw or lightly cooked.
Elton Haas, in Staying Healthy with the Seasons, recommends a summer diet of fresh fruit and juices, multicolored salads and vegetables, and some seeds, nuts, and grains. He also recommends that people who eat animal products significantly decrease their consumption of meat and dairy during the summer months. Haas encourages us to be mindful of not overtaxing the liver, the main detoxifier for the body, and to avoid fried foods, processed and chemical foods, alcohol, drugs, and caffeine.
Maya Tiwari, in The Path of Practice, notes that this is a pitta vulnerable time, and recommends avoiding excess pungent foods, hot peppers, garlic, and oily or fatty foods. She also recommends avoiding complex food combinations and intoxicants.
Vasant Lad, in The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies, also highlights the importance of a pitta-pacifying summer diet. The fruits he recommends for summer include apples, pears, melon, plums, prunes, and watermelon with lime juice. For vegetables, he suggests steamed asparagus, broccoli, or brussels sprouts. He says to avoid sour fruits and citrus fruits because they are heating. He also says to avoid garlic, onion, chili, tomato, sour cream, and salted cheeses. While he also, like Haas and Tiwari, recommends avoiding most alcohol, he does say that some cool beer on a hot day will be alright.
Harish Johari, in Dhanwantari, recommends a summer diet made up primarily of fresh, easily digestible fruits, and suggests that this is an appropriate time of year to do a fruit fast. He also suggests leafy greens, and says that mustard greens, spinach, collard, turnip tops, beet tops, and watercress are especially good in summer. Johari also recommends sprouts, cucumbers, and mint. He says that cumin is a good spice to use in summer, but cautions against the use of turmeric, coriander, cloves, cardamom, garlic, and onion in hot weather. And he says that in summer time sour foods should only be eaten during the daytime, never at night.
It is important to stay hydrated in the warm weather, but it is recommended to avoid iced drinks, which can apparently inhibit digestion and create toxins in the body. Drinks should, according to Vasant Lad, be room temperature or slightly cool.
*The photo above is of bananas, raw oat groats cereal, and almond milk. This is a favorite dish of mine, but please note that many Auyrvedic healers recommend not combining fruits with any other food, but instead eating them on their own!
Haas, Elson M. Staying Healthy with the Seasons. New York: Celestial Arts, 2003.
Johari, Harish. Dhanwantari. Rochester, Vermont: Healing Arts Press, 1998.
Lad, Vasant. The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies. New York: Harmony Books, 1998.
Tiwari, Maya. The Path of Practice: A Woman’s Book of Ayurvedic Healing. New York: Random House, 2000.