The conflict is real. There's beer and barbecues. But also beaches and bare bodies. Plus, keeping your paws off your kid's/ kid brother's ice cream cone when it's 90 degrees out is just so gosh darn hard. We get it. And so does Ayurveda. Fortunately this 5000-year system of medicine had already done the thinking around the perfect summer diet so we didn't have to (especially helpful when our brains find it hard to operate in the heat, or on Friday afternoons!).
Here's how to eat, what to eat and what to avoid, courtesy of Ayurveda and UMA experts.
First, Ayurveda recommends really listening to your body when considering your diet. The taste of food, its heaviness or lightness, its intrinsic heat- or coolness-producing, oiliness or dryness, its liquid or solid qualities are all considerations when thinking about how you want to eat optimally every season. Being thoughtful about what your body yearns for across those qualities is the first step to mastering this listening process. Seriously, take a minute to think about that. It may require breaking out of your routine mid-morning fruit or mid-afternoon green tea habit - but trust us, it's worthwhile. Another routine to break out of? The idea that you must eat or drink at a certain time every day. Counter to a lot of prevailing thinking? Yes. But counter-intuitive? Probably not. Listening to our bodies truly means to not eat unless we feel hungry, and to not drink unless we are thirsty. Shouldn't your body know best when it requires sustenance?
Second, consider quality and seasonality. The quality, including the freshness of food, should be a key determining factor. A fresh meal can feel more fulfilling while also making our bodies feel more energetic (sorry, Ayurveda is not that hot on microwaving leftovers or frozen meals). So, whenever possible, meals should be freshly prepared - and using seasonal ingredients. A key Ayurvedic belief is that plants optimally thrive in certain seasons, and are at their nutritional best when consumed during those seasons.
Third, consider eating hygiene. This one is the hardest for us personally, but try just eating when you're eating. No phones, no computers, no catching up on Game of Thrones. Just your food and your thoughts. Ayurveda guides that the amount of food consumed at a meal should be equivalent to two handfuls of food. While avoiding large consumption of liquids during a meal, sips of water between bites is recommended. Fruit juices or sodas should be avoided with meals. When you finish your meal, your stomach should roughly feel like it's a third full of food, a third of water and a third of air. Another Ayurvedic tip? Avoid foods that are considered 'incompatible' when eaten together because they are believed to cause poor absorption and clogging, and can lead to toxin generation in the gut. So avoid the following combinations: fish and milk, meat and milk, yogurt and beef. Also, most melons should be eaten alone.
Finally, on to summer foods! Summer particularly is the time that Pitta of the tridoshas dominates. To mollify the aggressive pitta of the summer, start by avoiding hot, spicy or pungent foods (these typically aggravate pitta). Within fruits, avoid sour fruits such as green grapes, sour plums, and grapefruit. Do eat sweet fruits like apples, avocados, dark grapes, and sweet pineapples. For vegetables, load up on asparagus, broccoli, cucumbers, and green peppers while trying to avoid beets, carrots, and eggplants. Among grains and animal foods, gravitate towards barley, basmati or white rice, wheat, white meat like chicken or turkey, and egg whites. Try avoiding corn, millet, dry oats, beef, lamb, egg yolks, and seafood.
Tell us how it goes, you sexy summer goddess you!