SPRINGTIME KAPHA BALANCING || Eating for the season | ayurveda

The change of the seasons affects many of us; lethargy, brain haze, sickness and just generally feeling out of sorts. Changing your diet to match the season can drastically improve all areas of health by adding the microbes to our digestive tract -- the gut, or micro biome -- that support our immunity to the microbes of the given season. For instance, seasonal allergy sufferers will find improved immunity to spring pollen by consuming the flowering fruits of the season, such as apples, pears and cherries. 

In the Vedic diet, we look to the seasons to guide our food choices so that we are getting the optimal nutrition that will support the functions of the body necessary to deal with the elements of the season. The respective diets are based on a 3-season system, winter/fall, spring and summer or Vatta, Kapha and Pitta, the 3 Ayurvedic doshas. In Ayurvedic medicine "doshas" are the 3 energies that flow through and govern all physical things. This area of the topic deserves more delicate articulation and expansion upon, but that will have to come later.

For now all you need to understand in order to begin eating for spring, is that to balance the nature of your bodies energy with the season, you are going to eat foods that will give you the energies opposite to the energies of the season. Fall and winter are bulked together as the same season in terms of diet because in a natural food cycle the foods from fall are stored and eaten through the winter. During the cold seasons we eat foods to keep us warm, and to insulate our bodies, our peripheral-nervous and lymphatic systems and our brain tissues with fatty acids from nuts and oils as the body goes into hibernation mode and performs repairing and restorative processes to our immune system. In the spring we eat cleansing foods like tart fruits, leafy greens and bitter vegetables that will transition our bodies from cold temperatures to hot temperatures by aiding us in losing the insulating fat stores we needed in the winter and cleansing our bodies of the byproduct hormones and toxins stored in those fatty tissues. In the summer we consume high carb fruits and vegetables for readily useable energy to keep our bodies cool and light. 

So, with that overview, we can begin to understand why the Vedic system deals with nutrition in terms of yearly requirements rather than daily recommended values. It is nearly impossible to get all the nutrition you need in one day, but with this approach, we can fill our bodies with the nutrition they need during the seasons when our bodies are best suited for assimilating those nutrients.

Now we can discuss the practices and identifications you can use to balance your body during the springtime. 

  1. Choose organic and non-GMO whenever possible. This is just aways a good idea when looking after your body, but in spring it is particularly useful while your body is cleaning itself. 
  2. Start up you digestion in the morning a few hours before consuming any food. You can do this with warm water and lemon, ginger or apple cedar vinegar or all three. This will help you begin to burn fat and circulate lymph.
  3. Try to avoid highly sweet, fatty and salty foods. These foods are swelling and water retaining foods, the characteristics of Kapha, and are aggravating, not balancing.
  4. To help you avoid sweets, take a tablespoon of a natural sweetener such as maple syrup, molasses or raw honey (for non-vegans or honey vegans)
  5. The taste profiles to lean toward are PUNGENT, SPICY, BITTER and ASTRINGENT. If a food is 2 of these 4 tastes, it's a Kapha balancing food. 
  6. Exercise early in the day to rev up metabolism.
  7. Perform Netti (nasal irrigation with saline water) to clear your nasal passages, and follow with Nasya (swirling warm sesame oil or specialized oil inside the nostrils and inhaling deeply).
  8. Breathe deeply and energetically. Breath through your nose whenever possible.

Below is a grocery list to guide you in what foods you should eat. By no means do you need to eat all of these. It is best to simply choose the foods off of the list that you are already fond of and would eat normally, and eat more of them.

Happy balancing everyone xx

Fruits

apples | pears | strawberries | blueberries | raspberries| pomegranates | cherries| grapefruits | lemons | limes | papayas | all dried fruits | apple sauce | apricots | prunes | cranberries | dried figs | grapes (green) | raisins | bitter melon

avoid: avocado, olives, bananas, coconut, cantaloupe, dates, green grapes, kiwi, melons, mangoes, oranges, sweet melons, plums, pineapple

Vegetables

broccoli | cauliflower | carrots | beets | asparagus | bell peppers | cabbage | kale | collard greens | swiss chard | spinach | endive | radishes | celery | lettuce | green beans | brussels sprouts | artichokes | turnips | potatoes (baked) | onion | mushrooms | garlic | ginger peas | watercress | parsley | cilantro | corn | dandelion | fennel | seaweed | chillies (dried) | mustard greens | turnips | chicory | okra | sprouts | eggplant | arugula

avoid: sweet potatoes, cucumbers, tomatoes, summer squash, parsnips

Grains

dry oats | basmati rice | brown rice, long grain | rye | millet | amaranth | barely | buckwheat | quinoa | wild rice | couscous | spelt | sprouted wheat bread | muesli | tapioca | wheat bran

avoid: yeasted bread, wheat, white rice, pasta, cooked oats

Legumes

black beans | lentils | garbanzo | adzuki | mung | fava | lima | white beans | navy beans | soy milk  tempeh | split peas

avoid: tofu, soy beans, miso, kidney beans, 

Milks

rice milk | soy milk | almond milk

avoid all dairy

Nuts and Seeds

pumpkin | sunflower | flax | chia | poppy seeds 

avoid all others

Spices

allspice | anise | basil | bay leaf | black pepper | caraway | cardamom | cinnamon | coriander | cloves | cumin | dill | fennel | fenugreek | garlic | ginger | marjoram | mint | mustard seed | nutmeg oregano | paprika | peppermint | parsley | rosemary | saffron | spearmint | tarragon | thyme | turmeric | vanilla | za'atar

reduce salt intake whenever possible

Oils

almond | corn | flax | mustard | sunflower | safflower

avoid: coconut, olive, avocado, walnut, sesame

Meats, Poultry and Fish

None is best! Not just speaking as a vegan here. Animal fat is notorious for clogging arteries and lymphatic vents and slowing down digestion. While we are trying to cleanse our bodies, staying away from meat is the best thing you can do for you body. However if you must, opt for lean white meats and poultry, and freshwater fishes.