How to detox, lose weight, alleviate allergies, hay fever, sinus congestion, colds, flu, and other common spring conditions with healthy diet and lifestyle? Ayurveda, the ancient holistic system of medicine, gives detailed recommendations for adjusting our diet and lifestyle to the spring season. By following the Kapha pacifying diet we can cleanse, support and heal our bodies, and truly blossom from within.
Spring season takes place from mid march - to late may. It is the season the majority of us most look forward to as it marks the transition from dark, cold, foggy winter into warmer, sunnier and brighter part of the year. And just like nature does, we too awake from the winter hibernation and a new cycle begins. Will it be an enjoyable one or not, depends how well did we take care of ourselves during winter time.
Ayurveda defines health as a dynamic state of equilibrium where a person has to adjust its diet and lifestyle to the season, environment and personal needs. Most of the time our instincts are driving our diet and life choices, but when we become separate from nature, especially in these modern times, we become confused and driven by the imbalance in our body. If we disregard our natural needs to be attuned with nature, our body will slowly slip into an imbalance and we will soon sense first symptoms as our body’s attempt to draw our attention to mistakes we’ve been making.
If we were following an appropriate diet and supportive lifestyle during the winter season, the transition to spring season brings enthusiasm, happiness and lightness. Our instincts are clear and sharp, and we align ourselves with nature without much effort. We crave more fresh fruits and vegetables, wild, bitter greens such as dandelions, and heavy meals don’t feel so inviting anymore. We are attracted outdoors and there is this sudden need to clean our home, open the windows and let fresh air bring in a new energy.
However, if we indulged in too many heavy, fatty foods, desserts, where the main physical activity included shifting tv channels during winter time, we have fallen into an imbalance and spring now brings a whole host of uncomfortable symptoms, such as colds, running nose, sinus congestion, hay fever, allergies… Instead of looking for the cause in blossoming nature, it is important to listen to what our body is telling us, and help it heal by adopting a diet that is appropriate for this season.
So what foods should you favour this time of year?
Imagine your grandparents, and what their choice would be. I’m quite sure they didn’t need any spring guideline or a list of foods to consume. They ate what nature was providing, what was fresh and seasonal. So you should too.
give preference to bitter, pungent, and astringent flavours
fruits: apples, variety of berries, dried fruit, lemons, limes, pears, prunes, raisins,
vegetables: artichoke, arugula, asparagus, beet greens, celery, chard, collard greens, dandelion greens, endive, fennel, garlic, green beans, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, mustard greens, peas, radishes, scallions, spinach, sprouts, turnip greens, watercress, wheat grass
grains: amaranth, barley, buckwheat, corn, granola, millet, oats (dry), polenta, quinoa, rice, rye, spelt, wheat
legumes: all legumes are good, especially mung beans. Minimise soy and soy products.
dairy (if consuming, use in small quantities as they aggravate kapha dosha): cottage cheese, goat’s cheese (unsalted),goat’s milk, yogurt
nuts and seeds: chia, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, small amount of almonds
oils: corn, canola, ghee, mustard, sesame, sunflower and safflower oil
sweeteners: honey, fruit juice concentrates
spices: all spices used in moderation are generally supportive during spring season
So, in general, adopt light, warming diet with variety of seasonal foods. Feast on spring greens, but also include berries, legumes, especially lentils, and grains. Enjoy fresh salad galore daily with light dressings made of olive oil and lemon juice to support liver detox.
As winter gives way to spring we are generally attracted to the outdoor. Spend time in nature as much as possible, soaking the sun and breathing in the mesmerising fragrances of flowering plants and trees.. Stretch your body with yoga, Tai chi, or walk with your friends. Cycle to work if possible or take a walk during lunch break. You will feel fulfilled, inspired and energised to make this new beginning more enjoyable. Happy spring!