With spring right around the corner, there are a few precautions we can take to ensure a healthy and symptom-free spring and summer. You may have noticed the birds are back, scouting out where on your home they will lease nest space. The crocus, which is nature’s cue to start spring, is just a few weeks away and the squirrels are running out of nuts, anxiously waiting for the first greens to sprout so they can finally eat a salad. Nature seems to have everything under control when it comes to adjusting for each seasonal change, while we don’t seem to do much. Maybe we take a sweater off or put one on, but in nature, survival depends on living in harmony with these cycles.
After a long, cold and dry winter, our bodies accumulate dryness and cold, which is why many of us dream about Hawaii and the Caribbean this time of year. Nature did, however, provide nuts and grains for us to eat all winter to help combat the cold and dry weather, but many of us just ate the same as always, not recognizing that in nature, the seasons dictate what foods we should eat, not the RDA.
With spring coming, so do the rains – the snow melts and it gets muddy. The earth naturally holds onto more water in the spring, making congestion a problem for many. This is why we call spring “allergy season.” If the earth is holding on to more water, then so shall we. The best part is that nature provides the perfect antidote to the accumulation of water and congestion. The only food nature is making available this time of year is light green vegetables, a few berries, and some bitter roots, and that is about it. These foods are mucus-free, fat-free, and aimed at cleansing the body of all the excess fats we ate all winter. Interestingly, the microbes in nature and in our foods make springtime shifts as well too, supporting our connection to the natural cycles as we eat seasonal, springtime foods. (1-7)
Again, spring provides the perfect relief from the heaviness of winter. The Ayurvedic list of foods, however, is drawn from foods grown all over the world and gives us the freedom to eat certain grains and fruits which are not harvested locally but still have the mucus-free properties we need in the spring. For example, grains that are harvested in the fall to be eaten in the winter can also be eaten in the spring, if properly selected. Corn, millet, and buckwheat are okay because they have no gluten and reduce Kapha (our springtime congestive energy). Fruits, which are typically eaten in the summer, can also be beneficial in the spring if they are light and dry. For example, dried fruits like figs, prunes and apricots are light like apples and pears. In the spring, you want to avoid heavier foods like dairy, nuts, red meats, and shellfish. Most vegetables are good and so are beans, which are not as good in the winter, but very balancing in the spring.
Spring is weight-loss season in Ayurveda. It is a fat-free and mucus-free diet used by all the weight-loss gurus like Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers. The difference is that Weight Watchers wants us to stay on this diet for the rest of our lives, which no one can do. Ayurveda changes with the seasons; we eat the Kapha-balancing diet only in the spring and change with each season. When you go with the flow of nature, you will see it’s effortless — and yes, this is true for all body types.
When the seasons change, it is the natural time to cleanse the body. The Native Americans always did their vision quests and fasted in the spring. It was a natural time to purify themselves from all the heavy winter meats, nuts and grains. There are many Ayurvedic approaches to seasonal cleansing. For optimum health, do not let the seasons change without some sort of cleansing effort. Here are some suggestions, in addition to eating what nature has harvested:
- Sign up for our FREE monthly seasonal eating guide, The 3-Season Diet Challenge.
- Do the 4-Day Short Home Cleanse or the 2-week Colorado Cleanse.
- Haskell, David George. The Forest Unseen: A Year’s Watch in Nature. Penguin Books: 2012.