Picture this scenario – “You are out running errands on a sultry, summer afternoon; would you prefer a piping hot beverage or a cold glass of lemonade to keep you refreshed?”
It's a no-brainer that you would choose the latter. For all these reasons and many more our body reacts to the immediate environment and changing seasons in different ways.
According to the teachings of Ayurveda, our bodies don’t exist in exception to nature but in harmony with the natural environment which we are an integral part of.
In the modern world where instant foods and ready-to-cook meals with glossy packaging vie for attention at the local supermarket, local and seasonal produce is easily forgotten.
The consequences are far-reaching on one’s health and well-being which sadly gets compromised in the long run.
Eating Ayurvedically, in coordination with each season is the perfect recipe for a clear mind, a healthy body and a vibrant spirit.
In our earlier blog, we shared an in-depth understanding of the doshas, how each of us possesses a dominant dosha and why it's important to balance an individual's dosha.
Likewise, each season is also defined by doshas & it's useful if we follow Ritucharyas which literally translates to seasonal (Ritu) guidelines (regime or discipline) to balance the doshas and keep the body & mind fit.
Seasons from Ayurveda Perspective
Let's set the perspective first by introducing you to the Ayurvedic year which consists of six seasons:
Shishira (winter), Vasanta ( spring) & Grishma (summer) in Uttarayana (northern solstice) and Varsha (monsoon), Sharad (autumn) and Hemanta (late autumn) in Dakshinayana (southern solstice).
It's important to note that these seasonal changes are subjective & most relevant to the Indian subcontinent.
A crisp snapshot of each season will equip you with the fundamental guidelines on what to eat, what to avoid & when to eat.
Shishira Ritu (Winter)
The cold settles in for a few months, lasting from mid-January until mid-March.
This cold season brings with it an increase in heavy Kapha energies, which means your Agni (fire) needs to burn even brighter to keep things balanced.
This season is best for warming spices, sweet, sour, fatty, salted & fermented foods.
Diary products, root vegetables, apples, grapes, rice, wheat & beans are also recommended without overindulging of course. It's best to avoid cold & astringent foods.
Sweets may be consumed in moderation.
Vasantha Ritu (Spring)
This is a transitional season & is dominated by earth and air energies, leading into the warmer months.
Vasantha Ritu starts from mid-March until Mid May. Kapha energy begins to scatter which extinguishes the Agni(fire) and can cause body discomfort.
This phase is extremely sensitive for our body, so eating easy-to-digest, bitter & astringent foods is essential. Avoid cold, heavy, sour and sweet dishes.
Gut-friendly foods like barley and nourishing spices like coriander, cumin, fennel & turmeric are suggested.
Grishma Ritu (Summer Season)
Grishma Ritu lasts from Mid-May to Mid-July, with the digestive fire being the lowest during this season.
Fire and air energies dominate this season, drying and increasing Pitta and Vata energies within the body.
During this time of the year favour light, cold, mineral-rich food. Fresh herbs, fruit juices & light foods are ideal.
Avoid pungent, warm & sour foods. Indulge in fresh farm fruits & water-rich vegetables like celery, cucumber & green leafy vegetables.
Varsha Ritucharya (Rainy Season)
It starts from mid-July to mid-September. The weather is damp & rainy season, with earth and fire energies at the forefront.
Your digestive fire is heavily reduced during this season, so it’s time to get that fire roaring again.
Salty, sour, and oily foods are most suited for this time. Begin the season by avoiding heavy foods and slowly graduate to warm freshly prepared meals & thin soups.
Immunity-boosting, pantry staples like lemon and ginger help enhance immunity and aid in smooth digestion.
Sharath Ritu (Warm & Dry Season)
Commences from Mid September until Mid November. This is the final spell of warmth and dryness post the monsoons.
Your digestive fire is regained during this season. Water & fire are the two dominant energies during this transitional phase. It's the perfect time to calm the Pitta dosha.
This time, it's about making an easy transition into the winter months. Prep your digestive system by eating light, cold, astringent and bitter foods.
Avoid fat and salt-rich diets. Ingredients to be included in your daily meals for this season are rice, green leafy vegetables, root vegetables, berries, plums, pineapples & dairy products.
Hemantha Ritu (Winter)
It starts during Mid-November and lasts until Mid January. The digestive fire is the strongest during this phase.
Water & Earth are the two dominant energies which help in grounding your Pitta. Wholesome ingredients & warm foods are best enjoyed during this time.
Sweet, sour and salty foods help keep the Agni going strong.
Fermented foods, pumpkin, spinach, carrots and vegetables like potatoes, and beetroots are available in plenty. Dates and diaries can also be consumed during this season.
The beauty of mother nature truly lies in her simplicity, abundance and variety she offers us with every changing season.
Use your creativity to celebrate the best seasonal abundance of fruits, vegetables, grain, spices & herbs while including them in your daily diet & supporting your neighbourhood farming community by going local every season.