Summer is the season of clear blue skies (okay, most of the time), white fabric, and lush green trees and plants. Exactly the colors that serve us most during hot weather because of their cooling effect. It’s one of the many beautiful examples of how nature serves us all year round.
The same goes for the foods that grow in every season that help us gracefully adjust and maintain balance. For summer that means adding more bittersweet, cooling, moist, and heavy foods to your diet. But before you rush off to the fridge or the ice cream shop next door (I know, you almost had the best excuse ever): cooling yourself does not mean you need to bathe yourself in cold showers and ice-cold drinks or foods. ‘You don’t have to eat cold to be cool’ is a great reminder from the Poo Diary so we keep our digestion working properly.
Here are some simple tips to keep your Pitta in check:
Don’t skip meals (but seriously)
Everyone around you will be so grateful. ‘You don’t want Pitta to start bitching’ echoes in the Ayurvedic hallways, which can easily happen when there’s no food around when the belly is rumbling. The fire needs to be fed in time, especially in Pitta season and if you’re Pitta dominant, so don’t wait until you are famished to eat. Make sure you eat 3 meals a day and make lunch heavy and nourishing enough to stretch until dinner so you don’t need to snack in between. Have breakfast at 8 am, lunch (biggest meal) at noon, and dinner at 18:30 so there’s enough time to digest before going to bed.
Green is the theme
All year you’ve been told to stay away from the crispy salads and raw foods but summer is the time of year you can actually put that ‘rule’ on hold and enjoy all the green leafy veggies, green salads, green soups, and green smoothies. It helps to cool and calm your body and emotions (the ‘I release control’ mantra might be your best summer jam ;-)) Other greens like chlorophyll and wheatgrass also cool the fire and help support the liver, the organ where Pitta builds up easily. Though summer gives us the digestive strength for raw foods, for those with delicate digestion it’s better to cook greens until they are soft (hard to chew means hard to digest!) and eaten at lunch rather than at dinner.
No wonder there’s such an abundance of fresh fruits around as they are full of the bittersweet taste that carries cooling qualities. The juices from plump peaches and perky pears that run down your fingers beautifully symbolize the sweet essence of summer. Other fruits to favor are also the more cooling ones such as pomegranates, sweet berries, plums, grapes, and melons. Also, all unrefined sweeteners like maple syrup or dates (except honey and molasses) are cooling and can be enjoyed in moderation.
Keep on drinking
And by that, we don’t mean Piña Coladas with a cute umbrella. Sip heaps of water alternated with other refreshing drinks that help cool down body and mind like aloe vera juice, pomegranate juice, coconut water, nettle tea, and mint tea. You can even combine them to make tasty lemonades like pomegranate with some fresh mint. Bring a thermos with you to make sure you stay hydrated throughout the day. And it may sound contradictory but ice-cold drinks (ice cubes) are best avoided, especially if you have weak digestion, as they disturb the digestive fire. Drinks consumed at room or body temperature are digested better and more easily.
Use cooling herbs, spices, and oils
As tempting as it can be to snack on spiced corn from the barbecue and share tangy one-bite appetizers during a picnic, it’s best to minimize sour, salty, and pungent foods during the hot summer months, as these tastes will only heat you up more. Your safest bet is to soak in the salty ocean for that matter.
Instead, sprinkle your food with all the green, fresh, and cooling herbs like cilantro, basil, mint, lemon balm, rose, lemongrass, coconut, dill, fennel, cardamom, coriander, wheatgrass, and chlorophyll. And don’t forget to switch to cooling oils such as hemp seed oil (not for cooking, but put on your food when ready to eat), olive oil, sunflower oil, or coconut oil on food or for cooking.