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Healthy Eating in Spring, According to Ayurveda

Healthy Eating in Spring, According to Ayurveda

With springtime in full bloom, Mother Nature is alive with birds singing and honey bees foraging. The warmth and sunlight has melted the winter snow, spreading cold water far and wide.

As nature lights up with activity, animals release toxins they’ve accumulated over the colder months. Humans move in the same direction. A time of renewal and cleansing, we often feel inspired to purge the excess and create new space — whether that’s in our home environments, or in our bodies.

The Flighty Nature of Spring

Spring weather can be fickle with changing warm-and-chilly days and the rise of pollen in the air. Our bodies are sensing these shifts as our strength wanes slightly, our digestion capacity changes, and we become a bit more active. This adjustment period can lead to common springtime annoyances like allergies, watery eyes, and sinus infections.

Lucky for us, we live in an extraordinary time — we can harness the benefits of both western and ancient science approaches to keeping well. The holistic science of Ayurveda teaches us that we can be free of spring allergies and irritations when we align our eating and behaviors to reflect the spring season.

The Cliff Notes on Ayurveda 

The sister science of yoga, Ayurveda is a system of mind-body medicine that originated in India over 5,000 years ago. Ayurveda views the human body as an arrangement of the five elements that make up all living things – earth, water, fire, air, and ether. We are healthy when these elemental forces are in balance.

Our interconnected relationship to nature is at the heart of Ayurveda. When a shift happens in nature, we respond. The simplest example is when nature shuts down at night, we feel a tiredness that motivates us to sleep. When the sun rises, we feel more energized and awake.

The Original Self Care

The Ayurvedic system teaches us that self care is not a luxury, but a fundamental way of living, rooted in self-awareness and practice. Ayurveda honors our instinct to eat, move and live differently depending on each season.

waterfall in the mountainside

The Season of Water and Earth 

During spring, the elements of water and earth come to the forefront, while the others take a backseat. The flow of water and the steadiness of earth create a foundation for new life to flourish. Affectionately referred to as “mud season”, we sow the seeds that we will grow and foster in the summer months.

In Sanskrit, the energy of spring is known as Kapha. “Ka” translates to water and “pha” means to flourish. As we adjust to the season, the influence of kapha in our bodies can impact everything in our daily lives from energy levels to sleep quality; from body weight to moods.

Getting outside, enjoying sunlight, and boosting our daily exercise during the spring helps us burn toxins from the body and adjust to the new season.

Digestive Changes from Winter to Spring

While winter is an ideal time for nourishing comfort foods, spring is the season for drier and lighter meals. The digestive fire has lost some strength in spring, meaning it has less capacity to break down the hardy soups and heavy desserts we enjoyed in fall and winter.

Ayurveda emphasizes the importance of kindling the digestive fire with warm food and drinks to counteract the kapha coldness impacting the body. Sipping on warm lemon water or ginger tea is a wonderful way to keep the digestive fire strong.

Honoring your Sense of Taste

A fundamental principle of eating in Ayurveda is delighting your taste buds, instead of counting calories. This balanced approach to eating supports harmony in the elements, which leads to healthy organs, hormone levels, weight, immunity and much more. 

Spring is the time to replace heavy, oily, sour and sweet foods with more pungent, bitter, astringent, dry and light foods. 

Foods with a bitter taste

Foods with a pungent taste

Foods with a astringent taste

Kale, chard, collards, dandelion, bitter gourd, broccoli rabe, turmeric, fenugreek, curry leaf

Arugula, leek, radish, turnip, scallion, ginger, black pepper, cumin, bay leaf, mustard, hing, rosemary, basil

Beans, lentils, spinach, watercress, parsley, winter squashes, pumpkin, artichoke, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, millet, amaranth, barley, quinoa, buckwheat

Cleanse with Flavor

When you hear the word “cleanse” or “detox” feelings of deprivation and dullness may come to mind. On the contrary, Ayurveda advises that you cleanse your body in spring with heightened flavor!

A very simple way to bring the bitter, pungent, and astringent tastes into your diet is to drink a spring detox tea to rid the body of the accumulated kapha and relieve imbalances like allergies, colds and coughs.

spring tea

Spring Detox Tea

  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 tsp fresh grated ginger
  • 1 tsp fresh turmeric or turmeric root powder
  • 1 tsp honey (or natural sweetener of your choice)
  • 1/8 tsp crushed black pepper
  • 2 tsp lemon/lime juice (optional)

Sip on the tea about 30 minutes before lunch or dinner

Turmeric and ginger, both highly rich in antioxidants work synergistically to strengthen the digestive fire and increase metabolism. The combination of ginger-turmeric works like a high-powered scraper that chips away the residue and toxic build-up of winter.

Eating in Spring

Now is the time for spring greens, fresh juices, salads, and local garden veggies. Instead of sautéing foods, we can steam or bake so that they’re a little lighter and drier. This is also the season to reduce creamy foods like cheese, yogurt, and sour cream. If you eat animal protein, consume smaller quantities and emphasize plant-based meals. 

Ways to Eat Lighter 

Eating lighter (and slower) helps us digest and assimilate the nutrients we are consuming. Here are some tips to eating lighter:

  • Eat green. Create a plate that resembles a green spring landscape.
  • Favor small legumes, like red lentils and mung beans.
  • Reduce meat, wheat, dairy, and sugar, which are all difficult to digest.
  • When choosing grains, swap out heavy wheat and oatmeal for lighter options like millet, quinoa, amaranth and barley.
  • Use oils in smaller amounts, and stick with olive oil or flaxseed oil. 
  • Add lots of spices to your dishes, including black pepper, turmeric, ginger, garlic, cumin, coriander, cinnamon and fennel.

In Season for Spring

veggie icon

fruit icon

Asparagus, artichoke, bell pepper, beets, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, chard, dandelion greens, green beans, garlic, kale, lettuce, leeks, onions, spinach, sprouts
Apples, blueberries, apricots, cherries, cranberries, lemon, limes, peaches, pomegranates, prunes, raspberries, strawberries

Honor the Season 

At the heart of Ayurveda is balance. When you embrace the season and the chapter you're experiencing in your own life, your food choices may feel more clear. As a holistic approach to health, Ayurveda does not solely focus on food. Honor your rest time, tend to your relationships and make time for whatever brings you joy.

 Maybe saving the bees brings you joy!  Celebrate spring by signing up for the wait list to get your own Everbee, the first bee feeder proven to help save the bees.