The food you eat can have a much larger impact than you think on how cool you stay this summer.
In Ayurvedic principles, eating certain foods that balance “Pitta” (our inner fire) is very important in maintaining temperature regulation both physically and emotionally. After all having a hot temper is not something any of us want!
Generally, to keep pitta in balance, we should favor sweet, bitter and astringent foods and choose wet foods over dry foods. Here are some tips on how Ayurvedic foods can help you keep your cool this summer.
Sweet foods are important as they encourage moisture in the body, which of course quells fire. Adding more sweet foods does not mean add honey or sugar to everything, or only eat processed sugars, it means consuming more naturally sweet foods.
Choose some of the following sweet foods to begin balancing out all this summer heat:
- Butter and ghee
Fully Ripened Fruits are also a great source of healthy sweets for your body in hot weather. Get down to your local farmers market and seek out some of these ripe goodies:
Pitta-pacifying vegetables are bitter in flavor. Bitter flavors are great to quell heat because they have drying properties. They cool us off by drying any cloying sweat or dampness from accumulated moisture. Some options include:
- Green Beans
- Leafy vegetables like collard, dandelion and kale
Astringent foods are preventative. They are drying just like bitter foods, but in a deeper way — they actually help to stop the spread of overacting Pitta rather than just quell any heat. Here a just a few to test out:
- Legumes of any kind but specifically kidney beans, mung beans, peas, adzuki, chick peas and lentils.
You can spice things up a little using pitta-pacifying herbs on many of the above ingredients. Test out these cooking spices:
- Dill (Sprinkle over beans for an added kick.)
- Fennel (This goes wonderfully cooked into those zucchinis.)
- Mint (Add some shredded fresh mint and a squeeze of lime to your watermelon —yum!)
- Cinnamon (Pop it on your pear slices.)
- Cardamom (Add this to your rice as it cooks for added flavor.)
- Coriander (Sizzle this into your green bean with a little hot coconut oil or add to your split pea soup.)
Stick to using coconut or sunflower oil in hot weather to stay on top of your Pitta tendencies.
Foods to Avoid
To create the full Ayurvedic-style balance in your Pitta-pacifying diet, you will want to stay away from salt, pepper, vinegar and garlic as much as possible, all of which encourage heat in the body.
Even though these ingredients are astringent in nature, their warming abilities are much stronger.
Minimize vegetables with heating properties such as tomatoes, hot peppers, radishes, onions and spinach, and reduce salty foods as much as possible as they can dehydrate you.
Definitely stay away from hot spices such as dried ginger, cayenne and mustard seed, and reduce your intake of sour foods like citrus, yogurt, buttermilk and sour cream as they will warm you up.
Controlling Your Portions
Lastly, portion control is vital. Your breakfast should be the biggest meal; size it to get you through the day with plenty of healthy energy. Dinner should be the smallest meal and should be stacked with extra cooling foods (like those mung beans) for while you sleep.