Summertime means lots of heat. And oftentimes, lots of heat means discomfort – both outside of our bodies and within.
In the ancient practice of ayurvedic medicine, summer is known as Pitta season – a fiery period characterized by the qualities of heat, lightness, sharpness, acidity, intensity, and oil. During this season, it’s common for people to suffer from Pitta-induced physical imbalances, like inflammation, irritation, and infection; as well as mental issues like anger, jealousy, and agitation.
What I find so fascinating about this practice is that it actually provides ways in which we can calm both our bodies and our minds from within – and it all starts with food.
During the summer, it’s best to consume foods that are bitter, sweet, cooling, and astringent in nature, as these work to balance out the hot, oily, sharpness of the Pitta season.
Here’s a quick snapshot of some foods you can eat to help calm that fire within!
Vegetables: Bitter, dark, leafy greens (with the exception of spinach) are at the top of the list, along with cucumbers, asparagus, zucchini, and celery. Avoid spinach, onions, tomatoes, and hot peppers.
Fruits: Go for sweet fruits, like dates, raisins, coconuts, sweet apples, and melons. Avocados are also excellent for calming Pitta. Avoid the more sour fruits, like grapefruits and berries.
Grains: White rice, quinoa, barley, oats, and wheat should be chosen over rye, millet, and corn.
Legumes: Mung beans and kidney beans are some of the best during Pitta season. Just make sure to soak them extra-long before cooking so that they’ll be easily digestible.
Spices: Go for spices that cool and soothe, like coriander, dill, cilantro, fennel, and cardamom. Avoid hot spices like cayenne pepper, and only use salt sparingly, if at all.
Oils: Olive, coconut, and sunflower oils are the best during Pitta season – ghee is great, too. Stay away from sesame, corn, and almond oils, which are more heating.
If you find you’re especially susceptible to imbalances during Pitta season (I certainly am), there are plenty of additional ways to balance yourself. Think calm and cool. If you’re hanging out outside, choose a shady spot over a sunny one. Listen to soothing, calming music instead of loud, upbeat jams. And I can’t stress enough how excellent coconut oil is for calming Pitta. Massage it into your skin to cool yourself down every day – you can even rub some into your scalp (and then cover with a shower cap) before bed to help soothe a fiery, racing mind. It’s also best to avoid alcohol and caffeine as much as possible – these make Pitta go wild!