Are you feeling a shift in your food cravings lately? Perhaps your usual standby foods are feeling too heavy, salty, or spicy.
If you want to feel more excited by your summer plate, may I suggest some alternatives to what you are eating, balancing the heat and allowing your body to cool down? Summer is Pitta season, comprised primarily of fire with some water. We all know that summer is hot, but how that heat affects you can be pacified if you know how to balance the external heat with internal cooling. The general guidelines here are to focus on the opposite qualities from environment. Simply put, if it's hot, cool it down. Here is a guide to help you navigate this season with ease. Pitta Food Guidelines (Summer) Tastes to favor: Sweet, Bitter, Astringent Summer, (generally mid June - mid September) is ripe with fresh food choices. Many of these foods are naturally light and cooling. As the summer progresses the digestive fire (agni) weakens. It’s a great time to give your digestive system a break. Eat less fat and have lightly cooked, blended, or occasional juices of mostly vegetables and some juicy fruits. Choose foods that satisfy you and align with your individual needs. Here are basic foods to favor, (eat these most of the time this summer): Fruit: Apples (sweet not sour), avocado, berries, cherries, coconut, grapes, limes, mangoes, melons (watermelon, honeydew, cantaloupe, etc), pears, pineapple, plums, pomegranates, prunes.
Vegetables: Artichokes, arugula, asparagus, beet greens, bok choy, broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chard, collard greens, cucumber, dandelion greens, endive, green beans, kale, lettuce, microgreens, mizuna, okra, potatoes, watercress, zucchini. Grains: Barley, farro, quinoa, rice (white basmati), wheat.
Legumes: Adzuki beans, black beans, chickpeas, mung beans, split peas. Nuts/Seeds: Almonds, pine nuts, pistachios, sunflower seeds.
Dairy: Feta or goat cheese in moderation. Dairy alternatives are best in summer (oat, coconut, etc).
Animal Protein: Fish, chicken, turkey, shrimp.
Oils: Coconut, flaxseed, ghee, hemp seed, olive oil, sunflower.
Sweeteners: Coconut, palm sugar, jaggery, maple syrup, monk fruit, sucanat.
Spices: Mint, cilantro, coriander, dill, fennel, rose, cardamom, lemon balm, lavender, sage, tulsi (holy basil)
Additionally, summer is a time to decrease or eliminate coffee and alcohol which are both extremely heating and inflammatory to the body, not to mention the mind (think rocket fuel). I know it seems ridiculous to those of you who love your summer mohitos and beer on the beach, but if you are serious about feeling great and increasing your longevity, you might want to give this a try. There are many non-pitta aggravating alternatives too, like juice and seltzer water, or see a special drink recipe.
Over the course of the summer, the digestive fire (agni) weakens, meaning you won't be able to easily digest really dense foods. Favor vegetables and fruits as much as possible all summer long and you will feel better and better. If the summer heat makes you feel inflamed, irritable, gives you loose stools, or makes you want to sleep all the time, give some of these food choices a try! Get creative in your kitchen, and invite your friends to make up recipes with you and see what you learn. You can start by just trying it out for a day or two a week and seeing how you feel. Running your own experiments gives you the best evidence for ongoing health benefits.