Mother Nature is organized. She moves in cycles that flow effortlessly and organically into one another. Ayurveda describes the rhythm of the universe as a continuous process of creation, preservation and destruction. The seasons reflect this. Spring is a time of rebirth, germination, fertility and re-awakening.
Summer is a time of heavy production, as seen in the long hours we can work and play and the bounty of the orchards and fields when they grow heavy with the fruits of their labor. With winter light and heat are reduced, nature goes dormant, animals hibernate and vegetation dies.
Spring is upon us. We’ve come out of the dryness, cold and darkness of the long winter into a time when light returns. Precipitation has saturated the earth and the return of the sun allows seeds to germinate, trees to bud and plants to awaken and begin their process of growth, production and dormancy.
From an Ayurvedic perspective, spring is a time to cleanse and reduce. The heavy foods that were necessary to keep the body grounded and insulated during the winter usually result in extra weight, a high content of mucous in the body and a taxed liver. While it’s natural to gain weight during winter, if the advent of the spring doesn’t include spring foods or a cleanse, the weight stays with us, the liver becomes toxic, excess mucous interferes with digestion and clogs channels that should flow (like respiratory channels and the GI tract) and year after year, we show the wear and tear of living out of alignment with nature’s cycles. The body becomes de-conditioned and a ripe host for disease.
If you don’t have the time to cleanse, making a conscious effort to eat the harvest of the spring season will go a long way. The spring harvest is inherently cleansing. Chlorophyll rich leafy greens and sprouts, light berries — all blood and liver cleansing in action. Very different from the deeply nourishing harvests of late summer that include dense root vegetables such as yams, potatoes, squash or fatty and nutrient dense nuts. The spring garden is light and reducing and, when consumed, allows the body to lighten up quite naturally. Knowing what to eat and integrating that into your daily spring diet allows your body to get much of what it needs to maintain balance. Let’s go over the qualities of spring: As spring sets in and the days grow longer, the light of the sun becomes more intense. It’s heat melts frozen moisture rich soil producing… fertile mud. The same thing is happening to your body. Stored fat is released into the blood stream, imparting a sense of dullness and sluggishness. If you continue to eat heavy rich foods, weight gain increases and your engine doesn’t fire up for the new season.
While cleansing is the best way to reset the body, burn fat stores and clear the liver, it doesn’t always fit into the schedule and demands of today’s modern world. Making the effort to consume the foods that naturally grow in the springtime will gently and consistently cleanse and reduce the body.
Find out what your regional seasonal harvest is, and then tuck in. Here in abundant Northern California, the harvest includes: Apricots, Artichokes, Arugula, Asparagus, Beets, Cardoons, Carrots, Chard and other leafy greens, Cherries, Fava beans, Fennel, Fiddleheads, Garlic, Grapefruit, Green onions/Scallions, Kiwi, Kumquats, Leeks, Lemons, Lettuce, Mint, Morels, Nettles, Navel Oranges, Parsley, Pea Greens, Peas, Radishes, Rhubarb, Spinach, Spring onions, Strawberries, Sweet Onions and Turnips.
Because spring is still a cold season, take your foods warm, cooked and well spiced. This will bring some extra “fire” into the body and optimize digestion that has become sluggish over the winter. Eat warm soups and stews. Lightly wilt salad greens by passing them over heat for 2 – 3 minutes with a dash of olive, sesame or sunflower oil and a bit of black pepper. Spring is a good time to reduce your intake of sweets and dairy, which aggravate a system heavy with mucous and fat. It’s normal for the appetite to decrease during this time quite naturally. If this is your experience, honor it. There’s a body wisdom at work that has a functional intelligence. Adding spices to your diet, such as cinnamon and cardamom to morning porridge or black pepper to soups and stews or drinking ginger tea will lend fire to your digestive capacity and increase metabolism at a time when it needs a little extra oomph.
VitalLiving will give tips and tricks to dial your spring diet over the next few weeks. Check back with us for recipes and Ayurvedic secrets that will optimize your health and give you a new perspective on how to achieve it. What you do every day is what you are every day. Know what’s right for you and make good choices!
“When diet is wrong, medicine is of no use. When diet is right, medicine is of no need.”