Summer Ayurveda Food Tips

Published by Annie Barrett: 
June 16, 2022

A fundamental principle of Ayurveda is that our habits, routines, and dietary choices should align with the seasons.

Ayurveda views the physical body, along with everything in the Universe, as being made up of the five primary elements; earth, water, fire, air, and ether or empty space. These elements are expressed in the physical body as qualities of stability/support (earth), feeling/fluidity (water), heat and metabolism (fire), respiration and circulation (air), and space and lightness (ether). 

Characteristics of Summer

The characteristics of summer are heat, long days of bright sun, and sharp intensity. These are all attributes of pitta, which is why summer is considered a pitta season. And, even though some climates are also humid this time of year, the cumulative effect of intense heat is to dry things out, so summer is also considered dry.

On a more subtle level, summer is a time of expansion and mobility and so it’s a great time for holidays and vacations that help us step out of our sometimes contractive ordinary routines and move into the realm of expansion and possibility.  

While there is plenty to enjoy in summer including warmer weather, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing. To help create balance, consider one of the classic Ayurvedic sutras that says, “like increases like and opposites balance.” This wisdom can be extremely helpful when considering your diet and activities in every season.

Stay Cool, Calm and Hydrated!

Summer Food tips:

  • Flavors: As you move into summer, eat more foods that are sweet, bitter and astringent. Eat less foods that are pungent (spicy), sour and salty.
  • Liquids: Drink lots of liquids. Avoid iced drinks and instead enjoy drinks that are cool, room temperature or warm. Water and herbal teas are great choices. Good choices are: mint, chamomile, dandelion, cumin, coriander, and fennel.
  • Fruits: Enjoy sweet and astringent in season fruits like apples, berries, grapes, peaches, etc. Eat less sour or citrus fruits. These are best enjoyed in other seasons.
  • Vegetables: Enjoy all types of vegetables especially sweet and bitter in season vegetables like greens of all types, cucumbers, celery, zucchini, peas. Go easy on the sour and pungent vegetables like tomatoes and peppers especially if you have a  pitta constitution.
  • Grains: Enjoy whole grains. Good choices for summer are basmati rice, wild rice and quinoa. Wheat is fine if you can tolerate it well.
  • Dairy: If you can tolerate dairy, ghee, fresh cow’s milk and goat’s milk can be suitable for summer. Yogurt is fine. Ice cream is best enjoyed and tolerated on a hot day. When it heats up, go easy on the more cultured dairy as it can be heating.
  • Animal protein: If you eat animal protein, be moderate in the summer. Go for the lighter meats (poultry and fish) and limit red meat. Heavier meats are better for fall and winter.
  • Spices: Enjoy cooling spices and herbs like cilantro, mint, dill, fennel. Limit the warming and pungent spices like chiles and cayenne.
  • Legumes: Legumes are astringent and are a great source of protein for the summer season. Soak legumes and enjoy them well cooked.
  • Nuts and seeds: Many nuts are heating, but almonds are good choices and most seeds are also fine. Soaking seeds is better for digestion.
  • Coffee and alcohol: It’s best to limit coffee in the summer months as it is heating to the body. The same goes for alcohol.